Bleached towels? Your acne treatment is likely the problem.


Bleached towels? Your acne treatment is likely the problem.

Well-known chemical Benzoyl Peroxide is the most commonly used acne-fighting ingredient. It is an oxidizing agent and when strong oxidizers come in contact with colored fabrics, a change in color or “bleaching” is a possibility. We often hear our patients complain about this little known ‘side effect’ of their topical acne treatments.

Dr. Paru Chaudhari

Published Jul 18, 2019

Benzoyl Peroxide can be found in many over-the-counter and prescription medications. Because it’s easily and quickly manufactured and relatively inexpensive, many different products enlist it as their key ingredient using amounts anywhere from 2.5% to 10%.

“Benzoyl peroxide is a “peroxide,” and like most peroxides, it is also a bleaching agent”

Although it’s mechanism of action is not completely known, it has been shown to be comedolytic (open up pores) and also fight the acne-causing bacteria Cutibacterium Acnes (Formerly called Propionibacterium Acnes). In addition, it has been shown to reduce sebaceous gland oil production. Outside of skin care, benzoyl peroxide has a long history of use in the food industry as a bleaching agent added for flour, whey, and milk for cheese making. As an oxidizing agent, benzoyl peroxide can "bleach" colored fabrics upon contact. Our patients often complain about orange stains on their brand new towels, not knowing it was a result of the benzoyl peroxide cream they were using.

As practicing dermatologists, there are many times that we do recommend benzoyl peroxide as an effective acne treatment. It is most effective for our patients who have mild acne, and also those patients with thick oily skin who can tolerate its’ drying and irritating side effects.


“We created KitavaMD without using benzoyl peroxide”

For our patients who already suffer from skin irritation, however, benzoyl peroxide is not an ideal agent for treatment. We specifically created KitavaMD without benzoyl peroxide in order to offer a solution to our patients who were experiencing skin irritation from benzoyl peroxide or were frustrated by the bleaching side effect. We use ingredients that are found in nature such as willow bark extract, tea tree oil, niacinamide, green tea extract, vitamin c and licorice extract. These ingredients when used together offer similar benefits to benzoyl peroxide such as a reduction in acne causing bacteria on the skin, reduced sebum and less clogged pores but without the irritating side effect!


Dr. Paru Chaudhari, a co-founder of natural skincare brand KitavaMD, is a practicing Board-Certified Dermatologist with a focus on inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea. She spent several years in private practice in New York City where she also served as an Instructor in Clinical Dermatology at Columbia University. She has been published in several peer-reviewed Dermatology journals and books. Dr. Chaudhari lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Medical Disclaimer: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, and is for educational purposes only. Recommendations should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. KitavaMD does not provide medical advice, nor is this blog intended to create a doctor-patient relationship