Acne treatment Acne treatment

What Is Salicylic Acid for Acne?

What Is Salicylic Acid for Acne? What Is Salicylic Acid for Acne?


Doctors prescribe medications containing salicylic acid to treat acne and prevent the formation of pimples. Acne occurs when dead skin cells, dirt and oil clog the pores. This allows bacteria to build up and cause inflammation that leads to acne blemishes. Discuss salicylic acid with your doctor to determine if it would improve your acne.


Salicylic acid has several topical forms for treating acne. These forms include adhesive pads, cream and lotion. Your doctor will determine which form is best for your acne.


Salicylic acid helps to unclog the pores by causing mild shedding of the surface of the skin, according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois. Regular use keeps the pores unclogged and prevents the buildup of acne-causing bacteria.


Some people should use extra caution when using salicylic acid for acne treatment. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease or poor circulation. She may recommend an alternative acne treatment with fewer risks.


Apply the salicylic acid to your skin exactly as directed by your doctor. Since salicylic acid dries out the skin, avoid using products that also cause dryness. Products to avoid include astringents, abrasive cleansers, cosmetics, drying soaps, products that contain alcohol and other topical skin medications, according to Columbia University. Do not use this medication on irritated, dry, broken, chapped, windburned or sunburned skin. Avoid using salicylic acid on open wounds.

Side Effects

Salicylic acid causes several side effects on the treated area of the skin. These side effects include burning, dryness, itching, stinging, peeling, irritation and redness. If these side effects bother you, discuss them with your doctor. He might recommend a different type of acne treatment or change the amount of salicylic acid you use each day.

Pregnancy Safety

Doctors do not know if salicylic acid affects the developing fetus. If you get pregnant while taking this medication, tell your doctor immediately. If you plan to become pregnant, tell your doctor while discussing your acne treatment options. This drug may pass into your breast milk, so do not breastfeed a baby without consulting a medical professional.

Complementary Care

Taking good care of your skin improves the effectiveness of salicylic acid and prevents breakouts. Wash your skin twice daily and pat it dry with a clean towel. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom, preparing food or spending time in public. This prevents the spread of bacteria that clog the pores and cause breakouts.

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