Topical Acne Products Can Be Dangerous According to the FDA, So Maybe Put Down that Scrub

Most teenagers in the history of modern conveniences have experienced a period of time where their acne cleanser of choice was as dear to them as their beloved childhood teddy bear. I was one of those infinitely hateable people who had, like, two pimples during my teens — don't worry, I had plenty of my own issues — but I knew enough people who used Clean & Clear scrubs nightly to understand that breakouts were something you battled with fervor. That was a simpler time, before the FDA's recent warning that topical acne products can cause rare but dangerous side effects.

Between 1969 through January 28, 2013 the FDA has received 131 reports from customers and manufacturers of allergic reactions associated with products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. This includes some very well-known brands, such as Proactiv, Neutrogena, MaxClarity, Oxy, Ambi, Aveeno, and Clean & Clear. About 42% of these reactions occurred within minutes to 24 hours of use, so if you've used these products and had no side effects you may be in the clear, at least until you switch products. No deaths were reported, but 44% of the incidents resulted in hospitalization. Yikes!

According to the FDA report, the real problem is that none of these products mention the possibility of severe allergic reaction on the label. Consumers should be warned of the potential side-effects the way they are with over-the-counter medications.

The acne products the FDA is warning about are sold over-the-counter (OTC) and applied to the skin (topical). Their serious allergic reactions differ from the less harmful irritations already included in the product Drug Facts labels, which include burning, dryness, itching, peeling, redness, and slight swelling where the product is applied.

You don't need to throw out your supply of Neutrogena cleansing face masks just yet, but exercise caution when purchasing any acne treatments you haven't tried before.

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