Benzoyl Peroxide

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide (chemical formula: C₁₄H₁₀O₄), also known as dibenzoyl peroxide, is a white, granular, crystalline solid. It is tasteless with a faint odour of benzaldehyde. It is slightly soluble in water, alcohols and vegetable oils and highly soluble in almost all organic solvents. Benzoyl peroxide may explode upon exposure to heat, shock or friction.  

What is Benzoyl Peroxide used for?

Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used in topical acne treatments, with many over the counter and prescription products containing the chemical as the active ingredient. 

As a peroxide, it is also an effective bleaching agent used in the bleaching of flours, fats, oils, teeth and fabrics (and ingredient in some stain removers). 

Benzoyl peroxide is effective in fighting acne causing bacteria
Benzoyl peroxide is effective in fighting acne causing bacteria

Benzoyl Peroxide Hazards

The routes of exposure for benzoyl peroxide include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of benzoyl peroxide may produce respiratory irritation and cause asthma-like symptoms. Other symptoms may include; tearing, salivation, lethargy, decreased respiration rate, difficulty breathing, weakness, tremors, headache and feelings of intoxication. Those with already compromised respiratory function (conditions such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis), may suffer further disability upon inhalation. Those with prior kidney or circulatory/nervous system damage are also more susceptible to further risk.

Ingestion of benzoyl peroxide may cause; gastrointestinal tract discomfort, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, intoxication, cyanosis (turn your skin blue) and central nervous system depression.  

Skin contact with the chemical may cause inflammation and irritation of the skin, but is overall not thought to cause harmful health effects. However, open cuts or wounds can lead to the chemical entering the bloodstream which may cause harmful health effects as a result. 

Direct eye exposure to the chemical may cause irritation, while repeated or prolonged exposure can lead to inflammation characterised by temporary redness, vision impairment and other transient eye damage. 

Benzoyl Peroxide Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Other measures are usually unnecessary.  

If swallowed, immediately give the patient a glass of water. First aid is generally not required, but if in doubt, seek medical attention.

If skin exposure occurs, immediately remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and cleanse the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Seek medical attention if irritation persists. 

If benzoyl peroxide makes contact with the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with a solution of 2% sodium carbonate or 5% sodium ascorbate, followed by a flushing of fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Seek medical attention without delay.

Benzoyl Peroxide Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical. There must always be adequate ventilation to ensure the removal of any airborne particles (install local exhaust if necessary).

The PPE recommended when handling benzoyl peroxide includes; chemical goggles, full face shields, PVC gloves (not cotton or leather gloves), dust respirators, PVC aprons/protective suits and safety footwear/gumboots.

Benzoyl peroxide can be harmful when handled improperly, so it is important you consult your SDS before any handling takes place. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sales@chemwatch.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions.