Should you use hydrogen peroxide on your skin?

Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning products and antiseptics. At low concentrations of up to 10%, it is used as a skin disinfectant and bleach. It works by releasing oxygen. This causes blistering, which helps remove dead skin cells.

Hydrogen peroxide has been used to treat:

  • Wound
  • acne
  • hyperpigmentationor dark spots on the skin

Using hydrogen peroxide carries risks, including skin irritation and impaired wound healing. That’s why doctors don’t recommend using it to cleanse or bleach the skin. Hydrogen peroxide can also be toxic when swallowed or inhaled.

This article looks at some of the past uses of hydrogen peroxide and why it’s no longer recommended for use on the skin. It also looked at some alternatives to hydrogen peroxide.

What is hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is water with extra oxygen molecules. As it loses extra oxygen molecules, it acts as a disinfectant and bleach. This process also releases free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that attack pathogens or bacteria.

Different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are more or less effective. The concentration of medical grade hydrogen peroxide is 3%. This means the bottle contains 3% hydrogen peroxide and 97% water.

Higher concentrations can be used but may be toxic if swallowed or inhaled. For example, hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of 35% is highly toxic. Most household cleaners that contain hydrogen peroxide are available in concentrations of 3% to 9%.

Low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are generally safe for cleaning surfaces. Higher concentrations are very irritating to the eyes, skin and intestines. If inhaled or swallowed, they can cause:

  • combustion
  • blister
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • Vomit
  • bleeding


Hydrogen peroxide comes in different concentrations. Higher concentrations may be toxic and may irritate eyes and skin.

Common uses on the skin

Hydrogen peroxide quickly kills bacteria and bleaches surfaces. In the past, it has been used to treat common skin problems such as:

  • acne
  • Wound
  • black dot

Today, it is no longer recommended to use it on the skin. This is because of its potential side effects and toxicity risks.


Pimples form when dirt and bacteria clog pores. Hydrogen peroxide can kill acne-causing bacteria, but the risks outweigh the benefits. Hydrogen peroxide is irritating and irritating to the skin. It can cause inflammation and worsen acne symptoms.

Hydrogen peroxide is also soluble in water. This means it doesn’t last long on the skin and doesn’t continue to work throughout the day.


Hydrogen peroxide was once used for cuts and scrapes due to its ability to fight bacteria. It does clean and disinfect the surfaces it touches. While this may sound helpful in keeping the wound clean, it may do more harm than good.

Research shows that hydrogen peroxide can cause:

  • skin blistering
  • Wound worsening
  • increased risk of infection

It may also interfere with the body’s natural wound healing. This is because it irritates the skin and kills cells that promote healing.

skin whitening

Hydrogen peroxide is used as a bleaching agent. This means it can help lighten dark areas of the skin, such as those caused by:

  • sunburn
  • Ageing
  • scar
  • drug
  • hormonal changes

However, it can also cause irritation and skin breakdown.


In the past, hydrogen peroxide has been used to treat acne, wounds, and dark spots on the skin. Because it can be irritating and may slow healing, doctors no longer recommend it for these purposes.

possible side effects

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that can cause serious side effects. The higher the concentration, the more severe the side effects. Using high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide on the skin may cause blistering and burning. Even 3% medical grade can cause skin irritation.

When you swallow hydrogen peroxide, oxygen bubbles form in your stomach. Low concentrations may not pose serious health risks, but you may experience foaming or spit in your mouth. Because hydrogen peroxide is irritating, it can also cause sore mouth and upset stomach.

If you ingest higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, seek emergency medical care right away. Hydrogen peroxide can cause:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • burn to the esophagus
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • Dizziness

Life-threatening side effects such as convulsions, fluid buildup in the lungs, and shock are also possible.

It is also dangerous to inhale high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Symptoms may start with eye and nose irritation and progress to:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • bleeding in the lungs

To avoid these risks, never keep high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide indoors. If you keep a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide for cleaning purposes, keep it on a high shelf away from children. Make sure it is clearly marked.

When to Call Poison Control

If splashing hydrogen peroxide causes eye irritation, follow these steps:

  • Flush eyes with water for up to 20 minutes
  • Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222

If you or your child accidentally ingest or inhale hydrogen peroxide of any concentration, get medical help or call a poison control center.

Alternatives to Hydrogen Peroxide

Fortunately, there are safer and more effective alternatives to hydrogen peroxide.


Talk to your dermatologist about safe options for treating acne.Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid Both have been shown to improve acne symptoms without significant skin irritation. Unlike hydrogen peroxide, benzoyl peroxide forms a film on the skin and stays on for hours after application.

acne treatment options


Wash small cuts and scrapes with mild soap and water. Pat dry with a clean towel, apply antibacterial gel, and cover with a Band-Aid. For larger or more serious wounds, seek medical attention. You may need to have your doctor clean and stitch the wound.

First aid treatment of puncture wounds

skin whitening

Dark spots and age spots are often associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Sunscreen can prevent dark spots from getting worse. It also prevents new ones from forming.

To lighten dark spots you already have, look for over-the-counter products that contain one of the following:

  • Retinol
  • Vitamin C
  • 2% Hydroquinone
  • Azelaic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Kojic acid

These ingredients can reduce the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is what causes the darkened appearance. Seek help from your dermatologist for any skin pigmentation issues.

What is a skin lightening cream?


Hydrogen peroxide is not as effective or safe as many other treatments for acne, wounds, and dark spots.

Better uses for hydrogen peroxide

Although it shouldn’t be used on the skin, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent disinfectant. It can be used on common surfaces such as:

  • counter
  • door handle
  • garbage can
  • chopping board

It can also be used to wash produce.

Because it acts as a bleach, hydrogen peroxide can remove stains and whiten tile grout. Be sure to store it in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children.


Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, but not on the skin. This is because it can cause irritation and may make wounds heal more slowly. It can also be harmful if swallowed or inhaled.

Leave hydrogen peroxide at home for household cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. Avoid using it for wound care or to treat skin conditions.

VigorTip words

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical agent. It is an effective disinfectant and bleach, but should not be used on the skin. Seek alternative treatments for acne, wound cleaning, and hyperpigmentation.

If you are concerned that you may have swallowed or inhaled hydrogen peroxide, call a poison control center or seek emergency care right away.