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September 1974

Bleaching by Benzoyl Peroxide

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Arch Dermatol. 1974;110(3):465. doi:10.1001/archderm.1974.01630090091035

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To the Editor.—  I wish to bring to the attention of the readership another complication involving a benzoyl peroxide-containing topical acne preparation.

Report of a Case  A 19-year-old student sought aid for acne of the face, which had begun in areas covered by a black beard. Panoxyl 5 (5% benzoyl peroxide) was prescribed and used once daily in the beard area. Four weeks later the patient returned, satisfied with the anti-acne effect but noting that his beard had lightened in color considerably to a patchy orange.

Comment  Since benzoyl peroxide contains the same peroxide side group as is found in the common bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide, the bleaching of the beard might have been predictable. While some dermatologists in our community were aware of the potential bleaching effect, many were not. The 1974 Physicians Desk Reference lists only staining of clothes as a complication of benzoyl peroxide, and neither Goodman

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