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Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, N.C., and a Dermatology Times Editorial Advisor and co-medical editor.
Facial care advice for patients with acneWhile both benzoyl peroxide acne preparations and vitamin C products carry benefits in acne treatment, it’s wise to recall the characteristics of each element in advising patients on caring for their skin. Vitamin C is rapidly oxidized with exposure to air. Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant. This is how Dr. Draelos suggests these products be used.
Remember that vitamin C is rapidly oxidized with exposure to air. Imagine how much more quickly vitamin C would oxidize in the presence of an oxidant, such as benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is used in acne preparations because it generates oxygen radicals allowing it to function as an antibacterial. It is a pro-oxidant, which is interesting, as some dermatologists have expressed concern that it may also facilitate aging! Vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide should not be placed on the face at the same time. It does not matter whether the benzoyl peroxide is from an OTC acne product or a prescription therapy that contains benzoyl peroxide in combination with clindamycin or adapalene. All pro-oxidants should be applied separately from the vitamin C serum. It might be worthwhile to advise patients to apply their benzoyl peroxide containing acne treatments in the morning and their vitamin C containing antiaging products at night. Since vitamin C is light sensitive, it further makes sense to use bedtime as the optimal application time.
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