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FDA Warns of Adverse Reactions from OTC Acne Treatments

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Common OTC Acne Treatments Can Cause Severe Allergic Reactions

Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide are the two of the most common acne treatments on the market, and have been for approximately the past 40 years.  If you’ve been through your teenage years and suffered from some bit of acne, you’ve likely used one or two of the many over-the-counter acne treatments containing these two ingredients.  However, what you might not know is that since 1969, the FDA says it has received 131 reports of allergic reactions from these products.  Granted, that’s not that many over the course of 40 years, but the severity of the reactions caught my attention.

Throat Tightness and Shortness of Breath Listed as Adverse Reactions by Acne Treatment Users

Sold under the brand names of Oxy, Clean & Clear, Proactiv, and Neutrogena, just to name a few, acne medications are available in creams, face washes, solutions, and cleansing pads and about half a dozen other forms.  What all of these OTC acne treatments have in common are there active ingredients: Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide.  The FDA says that it has received reports of adverse reactions from their use including throat tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, low blood pressure, fainting, and collapse.  Less severe reactions included itchy faces or bodies, swollen eyes and swollen lips.  Although none of the reported users who experienced adverse reactions died, some were hospitalized.

FDA Warns Consumers to Be Aware of Possible Adverse Reactions of OTC Acne Treatments

Currently, there is no warning on product packaging for the possible adverse reactions associated with acne treatments containing Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide.  The FDA issued a statement yesterday that consumers should be aware of the possible risks associated with these products and what to do if they are faced with this type of situation.  FDA experts say that consumers should first test a small amount of the product for three days before applying it to many areas of their face or body.  If they have no reaction after those three days, then it’s probably safe to apply it as needed.  It is important to immediately stop use and seek medical attention if you experience swelling of the face, eyes, lip or tongue or feel faint.

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