I excerpt from p 2 of 4, but p 4 of 4 reviews the entire article by Debra Jaliman, MD on Apr 17 2014.

Usually, topical antibiotics aren't recommended alone as an acne treatment, as they can increase the risk for antibiotic resistance in skin bacteria. However, using benzoyl peroxide with a topical antibiotic may reduce the chances of developing antibiotic resistance.

[Source:] Substances that kill acne bacteria by inflammation, such as benzoyl peroxide, oil of cloves, and chlorhexidine gluconate. Bacteria don’t develop resistance to these treatments, but they don’t kill as many bacteria, either.

If topical antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance, why can't compounds like benzyl peroxide? I ask in general about other bactericide, not just benzyl peroxide.


1 Answer 1


Antibiotics ARE compounds, and they kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria by specific mechanisms. Each class of antibiotics has specific mechanism of actions. Given enough exposure to these antibiotics compounds, bacteria can develop specific molecular mechanism to nullify their effect, and hence antibiotics resistance. Antibiotics resistance will eventually develop with enough exposure to drive the organism's evolution . Whereas there are combination therapy, there are multi-drug resistance; whereas there are wonder drug, there are super bug.

General disinfectant compounds such as benzoyl peroxide or sodium dodecyl sulfate (in soap and detergent) have no specific molecular target that would differentiate host and intruders and hence can harm bacteria as much as the host cells. They are safe to use only because you have skin to prevent their intake. Since there is no molecular target to mutate to develop resistance, the resistance to general disinfectant will simply take a very long time.

That is to say, who could ensure bacteria cannot develop resistance to benzoyl peroxide? Resistance to phenyl derivative has long been reported [1], and bacterial catalase can easily break down the damaging effect of peroxide.

[1] Heinz Berger and Orville Wyss. J of Bacteriology (1953) vol. 65 p.103


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