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Does Benzoyl Peroxide Fade Dark Spots?

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic that is commonly used to treat acne and other skin conditions. It is also used as a bleach for fabrics, hair, and food.

What does Benzoyl Peroxide do to your Face?

Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria, which can eliminate the cause of acne on your face. It also dries out your skin and could cause your skin to flake or peel.

When Should you use Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide helps eliminate acne and prevent it from developing by reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin.1 The most effective time to use benzoyl peroxide for preventing dark spots on your skin is to use it before or during an acne breakout. This helps stop acne from developing and helps it heal faster without the scarring or hyperpigmentation that causes dark spots.

Benzoyl peroxide may also help dark spots fade faster by making your skin shed dead cells faster, but no research proves this effect.

How Long does Benzoyl Peroxide Take to Work?

It can take up to 4 weeks to start seeing the results of using benzoyl peroxide to treat your skin.

What are Benzoyl Peroxide’s Side Effects?

The most common side effect of benzoyl peroxide is dry or peeling skin and itchy, irritated skin after use. It can also lead to reddened skin that skins or burns when touched. Your skin will adjust to using benzoyl peroxide over time, and side effects are usually at their worst over the first few weeks of using the treatment. Starting with a low dosage can help to minimize side effects during this period.

Its side effects are caused mainly by drying out your skin. Using an oil-free moisturizer can help rehydrate your skin without blocking your pores.

Can I use Benzoyl Peroxide if I Have Sensitive Skin?

Benzoyl peroxide is generally a safe skin treatment. However, it is also a harsh chemical that can dry and irritate your skin, especially if you use it too often or leave it on for too long.

Do you Have to Wash off Benzoyl Peroxide?

Yes, you should leave a benzoyl peroxide wash or gel on your skin for at most 1 or 2 minutes. Most benzoyl peroxide products have a concentration of 5%.2 If you are using a product with a higher concentration, you should leave it on for less time than that. The product packaging should advise on the correct amount of time to wait before washing off the solution. If you have sensitive skin or are using benzoyl peroxide for the first time, it can be a good idea to start with less time than that to test how your skin reacts to the chemical.

Can Benzoyl Peroxide Remove Dark Spots?

Although it is a chemical that can bleach cloth, hair, and food, benzoyl peroxide does not lighten your skin tone. However, it can address some of the things that cause dark spots on your skin. As a result, whether or not benzoyl peroxide can help you to reduce the appearance of dark spots on your skin depends on what is causing your skin to develop dark spots in the first place.

These can include:

Acne Breakouts

Darkened spots on your skin can be an early sign of an acne breakout. This type of dark spot is caused by your body’s reaction to the bacteria trapped in your pores, increasing the flow of blood, lymph, melanin, collagen, and other chemicals to help tackle the problem. This response causes your skin to darken. Applying benzoyl peroxide to the area can help kill the bacteria, reduce your skin’s oiliness and unclog your pores. As a result, the dark spots will not get worse over time and will begin to heal and fade sooner.

Acne Scarring

Acne can leave wounds in your skin. If these wounds take longer to heal, which might happen if they become infected, then the growth of new skin cells in the affected area could change the texture and thickness of your skin. It can also increase the amount of melanin in your skin in the areas where acne scarring occurs.

Both of these conditions can create darker areas in your skin tone. These darker areas will usually fade away within six months to a year, although deeper color changes can take more than a year to disappear.3

Benzoyl peroxide will not make this type of dark spot go away. However, it can help prevent them from occurring when used proactively. If your skin is prone to acne, you can apply benzoyl peroxide regularly to keep skin bacteria down and reduce the oiliness of your skin. It can also help acne heal faster and reduce infection chances by serving as an antiseptic. As a result, it can help prevent the wounding and scarring caused by acne that can result in dark spots on your skin.

Sun Damage

Some people can develop dark spots on their skin after exposure to the sun or using tanning beds. These appear most often on parts of the body that get the most exposure to the sun, such as the face, arms, and hands. Benzoyl peroxide will not help address this type of dark spot.


Benzoyl peroxide also will not help with dark spots caused by melasma. Melasma is a skin condition that causes small patches of discolored skin, which is commonly seen in pregnant women.


Diabetes can lead to several skin conditions that cause darkened or discolored spots of skin. This type of dark spot also cannot be treated with benzoyl peroxide.

Other Remedies

Benzoyl can be used to treat a range of skin conditions that can lead to dark spots on your skin. However, it does not directly lighten the appearance of dark spots and does not help treat every cause of them.

There are other remedies to address dark spots, however:

Laser treatment

Different types of laser treatments are available for reducing various skin blemishes and dark spots. The high-intensity light reduces the amount of melanin in your skin in a precisely targeted area, which can be used to break up and fade dark spots.


Microdermabrasion involves using a special device with an abrasive surface to remove the outer layer of the skin carefully. This treatment encourages the growth of new collagen, which reduce the appearance of some types of dark spot.

Chemical peels

A chemical peel involves applying a solution to the skin that exfoliates the surface, helping to encourage the growth of new skin. This process can gradually fade dark spots on the skin in some cases.


Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves applying liquid nitrogen to the dark spots on your skin. This freezes them and damages the skin cells. The skin can heal as a lighter tone afterward, depending on the cause of the dark spot.

Prescription skin-lightening cream

Prescription skin-lightening cream acts as a form of bleach that lightens the skin. It can take several months to have a noticeable effect on the appearance of dark spots.

The active ingredient in most prescription skin-lightening creams is hydroquinone. This chemical stops your skin from producing more melanin. Stopping your skin from producing more melanin has the effect that your skin will lighten over time until you stop using the cream. Prescription products usually have a concentration of up to 4%. 4

Over-the-counter creams

Over-the-counter skin creams to lighten skin are not as strong as prescription medications, but they may also work. The FDA has approved hydroquinone products of up to 2% to be sold as over-the-counter products.

Other over-the-counter creams and serums contain various ingredients, such as retinol or alpha hydroxy acid. These can speed up the exfoliation of the skin and encourage the development of new skin growth.


Benzoyl peroxide is a widely used treatment for many skin problems, including dark spots, acne, and scarring. It is ineffective at treating all kinds of dark spots; however, only those caused by hyperpigmentation due to melanin overproduction. Other safe methods can also be used to treat different types of skin blemishes.

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