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Acne Products Get FDA Warning

By on July 1, 2014

Some popular acne creams, including products from Proactiv, Neutrogena, Aveeno and Clean & Clear, have been linked with potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to consumers, saying in rare instances over-the-counter acne treatments can cause life-threatening symptoms, including tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing.

It’s not just creams that can be potentially toxic, but gels, lotions, face washes, and many other acne treatment products.

The main active ingredients in these acne treatments are benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, but the FDA isn’t sure if these are what cause the reactions or if it is some combination of secondary ingredients.

No one has died from an adverse reaction to over-the-counter acne treatments, but in its 44 years of existence, the FDA has fielded 131 reports of allergic reactions. Some 44 percent of these incidents ended with hospitalization.

“FDA is continuing to monitor and evaluate this safety issue, and will work with manufacturers regarding any future label changes that would address the risk of severe hypersensitivity reactions,” according to the alert.

RECOMMENDATION: Before using an OTC topical acne drug product for the first time, apply a small amount to one or two small affected areas for 3 days to make sure you don’t develop any hypersensitivity symptoms. If no discomfort occurs, follow the directions on the Drug Facts label.