Acne treatment Acne treatment

Salicylic Acid & Acne

Salicylic Acid & Acne


Acne is the result of clogged pores. Pores are mostly concentrated on your face, chest and back. Your pores allow an oily substance called sebum to be released onto your skin. Therefore, when your pores become blocked, sebum is unable to be released. Bacteria combines with sebum and skin cells under the skin causing inflammation and acne pimples. Salicylic acid, which is a peeling agent, can be used to treat and prevent acne.


When applied to the skin, salicylic acid unclogs blocked pores and reduces redness and swelling. Products with salicylic acid can be purchased over the counter, although applications with stronger strengths require a prescription from you doctor. Salicylic acid treatments come in a variety of forms including liquids, creams, gels, lotions and ointment. Pads and wipes with salicylic acid are also sold for more convenient use. It can be applied to your skin several times a day if necessary.


Salicylic acid is used in many acne prevention and treatment products because of its effectiveness. Over-the-counter products typically contain up to 2% of salicylic acid. In the December 2007 issue of "Dermatologic Surgery," Dr. Katherine Flanagan and colleagues compared the effectiveness of chemical peels, containing either 30 percent glycolic acid or 30 percent salicylic acid, for the treatment of mild to moderate facial acne in 20 patients. Although both chemical peels were equally effective after 2 weeks, only patients treated with salicylic acid had sustained effectiveness 2 months after treatment had ceased. There were also fewer side effects associated with the salicylic acid chemical peels.


There are many over-the-counter products for the treatment of acne that you might try before consulting a doctor. If these products are ineffective and you consult a doctor, be sure to inform him of the products you are using on your skin. This will give him a better idea of the severity of your condition and assist him in providing you with the best treatment. Also, let your doctor know what other products you apply to your skin. According to, using abrasive soaps or products that contain alcohol or benzyol peroxide in combination with salicylic acid can irritate your skin.

Side Effects

Acne treatments with salicylic acid should be used as indicated on the product or as prescribed by your doctor. Salicylic acid may irritate your skin and result in dry skin, redness, itching or burning. However, a reduction in use may prevent these side effects. Consult with your doctor if you experience negative side effects to determine if you should reduce or cease treatment. Other more serious side effects include allergic reactions that involve difficulty breathing, closing of throat or facial swelling.

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