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Precautions and Warnings With Erythromycin/Benzoyl Peroxide

There are many precautions to be aware of before using erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide, including warnings about who should not use this acne medication and possible side effects that may occur. For example, you may not be able to use this medication if you have eczema or a sunburn. Other safety concerns also apply to people with certain allergies and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Using Erythromycin/Benzoyl Peroxide?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide (Benzamycin®) if you have:
  • Eczema
  • A sunburn, windburn, or otherwise irritated skin
  • A sensitivity to the sun or if you go out in the sun often
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Erythromycin/Benzoyl Peroxide Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of before using this medicine include:
  • Erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide is for topical use only, which means it should only be applied to the skin. Take care to not get it in your eyes, mouth, or nose, as it can be irritating.
  • Like other antibiotics, erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide use may increase the risk for developing a secondary skin infection, such as a fungal or yeast infection. Stop using erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide and contact your healthcare provider if you notice signs of a skin or nail infection, such as a red, scaly, itchy rash or discolored, painful, or swollen nails.
  • Do not use other topical products on the same area, unless your healthcare provider says otherwise. Doing so may irritate your skin. Also, do not use abrasive cloths, sponges, or cleansers. If you experience severe skin irritation, stop using the medication and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Applying more than a thin layer, or using the gel more often than prescribed, will not lead to faster or better results. Instead, it may cause more skin irritation, redness, and dryness.
  • This medication is flammable. Do not use it near an open flame.
  • Do not apply the gel to skin that is cut, scraped, sunburned, or has eczema.
  • If your skin becomes too dry while using this medication, try using a nonmedicated moisturizer.
  • Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun while using erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide. Try to avoid prolonged or excessive sun exposure, including artificial sun (sunlamps and tanning beds). Also, use a PABA-free sunscreen and wear protective clothing, such as a hat, when you do go out in the sun. Your healthcare provider can recommend an appropriate sunscreen for you.
  • When you use erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide, you may experience some temporary or minor skin irritation, such as redness, burning, stinging, dryness, or itching. This is normal and not usually a cause for concern. Contact your healthcare provider, however, if these side effects are severe, get worse with repeated use, or are otherwise bothersome.
  • All antibiotics, including erythromycin (one of the active ingredients of erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide), may cause a potentially serious problem known as pseudomembranous colitis. This problem occurs when the antibiotic alters the normal bacteria in the body, allowing undesirable bacteria to overgrow. Pseudomembranous colitis is unlikely to occur with topical antibiotic use (such as erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide use). However, it is important to tell your healthcare provider about any bloody or watery diarrhea, as these may be signs of a serious reaction.
  • Erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide is a pregnancy Category C medication, which means it may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medicine during pregnancy (see Benzamycin and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known if erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, talk to your healthcare provider about using this drug (see Benzamycin and Breastfeeding).

Erythromycin/Benzoyl Peroxide Information

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