CPR First Aid

Why Acne Treatments May Burn your Skin?

Why Acne Treatments May Burn your Skin

Some of the known acne treatments in Perth are benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil. These were effective in treating mild to moderate acne breakouts in some people. Some even say that these treatments helped in preventing acne from reoccurring. However, in some people with acne, these treatments burned their skin. How could this possibly be? How will the burn be treated? What acne treatments can other people use instead? Let’s find out the possible answers and explanations below.

Benzoyl Peroxide as an Acne Treatment

Benzoyl Peroxide is said to be a proven acne treatment that has been used for quite some time now. It is an active ingredient in many of the available over-the-counter acne treatments in pharmacies in Perth. At the same time, it is a common compound in prescribed acne medications by dermatologists. The results from using it may vary from person to person, one of them may be burning the skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide, a proven acne treatment, is widely used in over-the-counter and prescribed medications for acne.

Why the Skin Burns if Benzoyl Peroxide is Used as an Acne Treatment?

According to Very Well Health, it is normal for Benzoyl Peroxide to burn the skin when you apply it, especially in the 1st week. It may even cause the skin to sting, feel itchy, and even look red. These may occur seconds to hours after the application and may last for a few minutes only. The burning, stinging, and itching sensations are some of the side effects of using this acne treatment. However, if these occur longer than expected and seem to be severe, it may indicate an allergy to Benzoyl Peroxide.

Allergy to Benzoyl Peroxide as an Acne Treatment

If the following symptoms occur, it may mean you are allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide:

  • Hives.
  • Itching.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Swelling.

If any of these occur, discontinued use of Benzoyl Peroxide as an acne treatment is advised.

Tea Tree Oil as an Acne Treatment

Healthline has compiled a few studies on the efficacy of tea tree oil as an acne treatment. In some of these, it has been found that the tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which may help in treating and improving acne. However, usage of it can cause irritation which may be identified with symptoms like burning.

Why the Skin Burns if Tea Tree Oil is Used as an Acne Treatment

Using tea tree oil as an acne treatment also causes side effects, and one of them is irritation. This may occur if the tea tree oil is not diluted properly and is used in higher concentrations. Acne applied with tea tree oil may be irritated if it feels to be burning and/or show the other symptoms:

  • Redness.
  • Dryness.
  • Scaliness.
  • Stinging.

Since these are symptoms of a common side effect, they may be felt for a short time only. Unless you develop an allergic reaction to tea tree oil called allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergy to Tea Tree Oil as an Acne Treatment

Allergic contact dermatitis may occur after using either a fresh tea tree oil or an improperly stored one. If this allergic reaction develops, there may be an appearance of a skin rash which is:

  • Red.
  • Swelling.
  • Itching.

If these occur, it may be ideal to stop using tea tree oil as an acne treatment. Especially since these acne treatments may trigger other allergic reactions that may be severe.

Allergic Reactions to Acne Treatments

The above acne treatments may cause side effects and allergic reactions. Some of these may be mild as mentioned above, and in some people, they may be severe. It may be anaphylaxis or angioedema which are serious and life-threatening allergic reactions.

Acne Treatments may Cause Anaphylaxis

Mayo Clinic and Healthline mention that both Benzoyl Peroxide and Tea Tree Oil may cause anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction.

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

Below are the symptoms of Anaphylaxis as mentioned in this Anaphylaxis/Allergic Reaction article:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Flushed or pale skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swollen tongue or throat that may lead to wheezing or difficulty in breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

These may occur minutes to hours after using Benzoyl Peroxide or Tea Tree Oil as acne treatments.

How does Anaphylaxis work?

When anaphylaxis occurs, the immune system releases a flood of chemicals that causes a person to be in shock which will cause:

  • Blood pressure drops suddenly.
  • Airways to be narrow.
  • Breathing to be blocked.

If it is not treated with first aid immediately, this allergic reaction to acne treatments may lead to further complications.

Complications of Anaphylaxis

Healthline lists the following complications that may occur as an effect of Anaphylaxis:

The above complications and the Anaphylaxis itself may be treated with their respective medical treatments. Such may only be available in hospitals wherein a patient must be transported first. Transferring a patient and even waiting for emergency help may take time and may be crucial in someone’s chance of survival. Therefore, the application of the proper first aid practices is advised to help stabilise a patient.

Response for Anaphylaxis

The first aid response to this allergic reaction that may occur after using the above acne treatments is outlined in this Anaphylaxis/Allergic Reaction article. It involves an Epinephrine Injection which may be properly done after enrolling in a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005.

Acne Treatments may Cause Angioedema

As per Mayo Clinic, using a topical cream that has Benzoyl Peroxide may lead to another serious allergic reaction called angioedema.

Mayo Clinic warns: Benzoyl Peroxide in creams can cause angioedema, a serious allergic reaction.

Symptoms of Angioedema

Penn Medicine describes Angioedema as swelling. Its symptoms may look like that of hives, but it is under the skin. Other symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Welts and/or swelling on the surface of the skin.
  • Painful and/or itchy welts.

These welts are also known as hives (urticaria) and may turn pale and swell if irritated.

How does Angioedema work?

Allergy states that the swelling under the skin in Angioedema is an effect of the small blood vessels leaking fluid into the tissues.

Response for Angioedema

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Angioedema but the swellings may be prevented with medications.

Treatment for Burn caused by Acne Treatments

As mentioned above, acne may be burned as a side effect of using Benzoyl Peroxide and/or Tea Tree Oil as treatments. It may occur especially right after the application of either of these. The burning sensation may disappear on its own after a short time without the need for a burn first aid treatment. Such first aid response is available to burns at all degrees.

Why Are Such Treatments Used for Acne?

As mentioned above, both Benzoyl Peroxide and Tea Tree Oil have side effects including burning. It may even trigger allergies and lead to severe allergic reactions that may be dangerous to a user. It is why doing a patch test is highly recommended before applying them to all the acne spots. The results may show you are allergic to them and if not, they may be safe to use which may be effective due to the following reasons.

Both Benzoyl Peroxide and Tea Tree Oil can cause burning and allergies, with potential for severe reactions. A patch test is crucial before full application.

Why Benzoyl Peroxide is Used as an Acne Treatment?

Benzoyl Peroxide is used as an acne treatment because:

  • It attacks the bacteria on the skin.
  • It helps to unclog pores.
  • It removes dead skin that will prevent blockages.
  • It helps in preventing new acne spots.

This acne treatment may also come in a form of over-the-counter gel, cleanser, and cream and is considered affordable.

Using Benzoyl Peroxide as an Acne Treatment

The burning sensation as a side effect may only occur on the first few days of using Benzoyl Peroxide. If it is mild and disappears, continued usage of Benzoyl Peroxide may be done by:

  • Applying a moisturizer right after putting on a benzoyl peroxide cleanser in the next 2-3 weeks. This is done while the skin is damp to help with the dryness and flaking.
  • Continue using benzoyl peroxide for another 3 weeks wherein there may be an improvement of the acne.
  • On weeks 8-10, continued usage of benzoyl peroxide is suggested. Ideally, this timeline will show improvement in the skin with acne starting to clear which leaves dark spots. These are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which may go away after some time. There may still be new acne, but it may be smaller, less noticeable, and less frequent.

The 12th week and afterwards may be the time when the acne is manageable and under control. If this is the case, then benzoyl peroxide may be a good acne treatment for you. Otherwise, seek professional help from a dermatologist.

Why Tea Tree Oil is Used as an Acne Treatment?

Tea Tree Oil is another common acne treatment for it:

  • Reduces redness.
  • Helps in swelling.
  • Lessens inflammation.
  • Prevents and decreases the appearance of acne scars.
  • Leaves a smooth and clear skin.

This acne treatment is distilled from the leaves plant Melaleuca alternifolia, a native in Australia.

Using Tea Tree Oil as an Acne Treatment

If the side effect (burning sensation) is mild and tolerable, then it may be used continuously by:

  • Diluting 3 drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil.
  • Washing the area with a gentle cleanser for acne-prone skin, and pat it dry.
  • Gently apply diluted tea tree oil by dabbing it on the acne with cotton.
  • Allow it to dry.
  • Follow up with a moisturizer.

These steps may be repeated twice daily in the morning and at night. See if there is an improvement in every succeeding week of using it. If there is none, it may be best to seek prescribed acne treatment from a dermatologist.

Alternative Acne Treatments

Unfortunately, the burning sensation as a side effect of the above-mentioned acne treatments may be painful and/or uncomfortable. In addition, there is also a risk of severe allergic reactions. If these are a concern, then it may be good to consider the below alternative acne treatments. Take note that doing a patch test and/or seeking advice from a dermatologist is still recommended.

Aloe Vera Gel as Acne Treatment

Aloe vera has natural remedies for the skin according to this article. One is improving the discolouration in acne scars. So, even though it may not be used in treating the acne itself, it may still be a good alternative for improving how acne looks.

Retinoids as Acne Treatment

Web MD mentions that a retinoid may help in moderate to severe acne by:

  • Unclogs pores which help other medications and gel to work.
  • Prevents dead cells from clogging pores which reduces acne breakouts.
  • May reduce acne scars from forming.

This acne treatment may come in a form of cream, gel, or lotion that may be available over the counter.

Salicylic Acid as Acne Treatment

Salicylic Acid is said to be a known acne treatment as it:

  • Exfoliates the skin.
  • Keeps pores clear.
  • Prevents future breakouts.

It may be available over the counter and/or through a prescribed acne treatment.

Azelaic Acid as Acne Treatment

This acid may also be an effective acne treatment as it:

  • Kills bacteria that infect pores.
  • Decreases production of keratin (a substance that may cause acne to develop).

These help in reducing the swelling in the acne.

Antibiotics as Acne Treatment

Antibiotics work in treating acne by:

  • Killing excess bacteria.
  • Reduce redness.
  • Reduce inflammation.

It may be taken together with another acne treatment as prescribed by a dermatologist.


Acne treatments such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Tea Tree Oil may burn your skin as a side effect. It may last for a few seconds which may occur either after the application or hours later. If it is mild, tolerable, and goes away on its own, then continued usage of these acne treatments may be done. Improvements may occur with the acne clearing weeks to months after the first application.

However, using these acne treatments may trigger allergies and lead to possible severe allergic reactions. Such may be anaphylaxis or angioedema which may be life-threatening especially if first aid response is not applied. For these reasons, it is advised to do a patch test and/or consult a dermatologist for a safe and effective acne treatment that may work for you.



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