The use of certain acne products containing the active ingredients benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can cause rare but serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions or severe irritation according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 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.

“There is currently no mention of the possibility of these very severe allergic reactions on the product labels,” says Mona Khurana, M.D., a medical officer at FDA. “It’s important that consumers know about them, and that they know what to do if they occur.”

Consumers can find out if an OTC topical acne product contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid by looking at the Active Ingredient(s) section of the Drug Facts label on the product package.

Products of concern are marketed under different brand names such as Proactiv, Neutrogena, MaxClarity, Oxy, Ambi, Aveeno, and Clean & Clear. They are available as gels, lotions, face washes, solutions, cleansing pads, toners and face scrubs.

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