Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Does Salicylic Acid Help Acne

Side Effects And Toxicity

Salicylic Acid For Acne : How Does It Work? What Does It Do? Does It Work?

Researchers consider topical salicylic acid to be a relatively safe and well-tolerated product at over-the-counter strengths. Side effects are usually infrequent, mild, and temporary. When side effects occur, they usually occur early in treatment and then subside within a few weeks. These side effects include:

  • Discomfort at the application site
  • Redness
  • Skin peeling
  • Itching

However, higher-percentage salicylic acid causes more severe side effects. According to a 2003 article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, “At concentrations of 2% or greater, salicylic acid is likely to cause some degree of local skin peeling and discomfort.”2 In the real world, this means higher-percentage chemical peels that use salicylic acid are likely to sting when they are applied and you can expect your skin to noticeably peel in the days following the peel.

Caution: When used for a prolonged period of time or over large areas of skin, salicylic acid can be absorbed into the body and produce systemic side effects. Possible systemic side effects include:

  • Temporary damage to the inner ear.
  • Salicylate toxicity, which can be serious, with symptoms such as increased breathing rate, ringing in the ears or loss of hearing, generalized weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and metabolic abnormalities such as elevated liver function tests.2,10,11

How Does Salicylic Acid Help With Acne

Salicylic acid, while only moderately improving acne, remains a popular anti-acne ingredient in over-the-counter skin treatments and makeup because it fights acne with multiple “weapons.” Salicylic acid:

  • Exfoliates: By removing skin cells called corneocytes from the skin surface and from inside pores, salicylic acid unclogs pores and breaks up clogged pores , helping the skin to heal after a breakout.
  • Reduces sebum: Salicylic acid reduces the amount of skin oil, called sebum, inside pores, helping to prevent the flourishing of acne bacteria that feeds on sebum.
  • Is anti-inflammatory: Salicylic acid reduces inflammation , which is part and parcel of acne.
  • Helps kill pain: Salicylic acid is a mild anesthetic and may help to reduce discomfort caused by acne breakouts.
  • Demonstrates antimicrobial activity: Salicylic acid can kill some bacteria and might possibly be able to prevent the growth of acne bacteria in skin pores.
  • Improves absorption of medications into the skin: Salicylic acid helps other ingredients in topical treatments to penetrate the skin, making them more effective.1,2

However, scientists do not know exactly how salicylic acid accomplishes all of this. That is to say, the exact mechanism by which salicylic acid fights acne is still unknown.

Salicylic acid works best on oily skin

Is Salicylic Acid Safe To Use For Acne Treatment

Salicylic acid is extremely safe for acne treatment when used in the right concentrations and combined with the right ingredients. Some dryness and mild peeling are possibleand totally normalwhen starting an acne treatment with salicylic acid. This effect is temporary, and the skin will usually adjust to the treatment within a couple of weeks. To prevent over-drying of the skin, it best to avoid using additional toner and other astringents products while using salicylic acid.

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Salicylic Acid What It Is How It Works And Its Benefits On Skin

David Caballero

Acne is a multifactorial skin health condition, and its main triggers are still elusive. However, we do know that when the skin pores become blocked by oil overproduction and dead skin cells, the skin is likely to become inflamed and irritated.

Factors such as stress, diet, and hormonal changes can all influence the severity and frequency of your breakouts. But, even more importantly, it is your skin microbiome or the colony of billions of bacteria and microbes that live on your skin that have the greatest impact.

Indeed, when treating acne, we all tend to address its symptoms, such as pimples and redness, rather than its causes. Medical solutions such as Salicylic Acid and antibiotics have been seen to help reduce acne breakouts. But they can also disrupt the skin microbiome and weaken your skins defences. Here is what you need to know about using Salicylic Acid for your skin and how a healthy microbiome can enhance its benefits.

What Is Benzoyl Peroxide

What does salicylic acid do for acne?

Benzoyl peroxide is non-prescription drug that works to destroy acne-causing bacteria in your pores. BPO works primarily as an exfoliating agent by increasing the turnover of the skin and removes the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells from the pores. It comes in 2.5%, 5%, and 10% concentrations that are to be used for those suffering from moderate to severe acne.

“Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful ingredient that is effective against all kinds of acne lesions . It is bactericidal, meaning it kills bacteria, rather than simply slowing down their growth. It also works very quickly, improving acne as early as five days after starting treatment. It’s a great first line treatment for acne, but it’s also helpful to use in combination with antibiotics. In fact, benzoyl peroxide has the ability to prevent antibiotic resistance!”

“One thing to watch out for with benzoyl peroxide is that it can bleach dark fabrics. Be sure to apply the benzoyl peroxide after you pull that navy sweater over your face! It can also cause drying, peeling, and redness if it’s not delivered in the right amount, surrounded by the right mix of ingredients,” says Dr. Bowe.

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Notes And Precautions Before Using Salicylic Acid Based Acne Treatments

Salicylic acid is generally a safe compound when applied at proper concentrations for the treatment of acne. However, one thing that you might notice with salicylic acid based acne products is the fact that sometimes, they may leave your skin a bit dry. So it should go without saying that you should avoid any harsh cleansers and astringents while using salicylic acid based products.

It is very important to make sure that you have a balanced acne regimen, especially if you are using salicylic acid-based products. Make sure that you are regularly moisturizing your skin and using soothing products while using a salicylic acid-based treatment. Also, make sure that you are not applying salicylic acid to extensive areas of your skin, stick to the areas that have pimples on them. If your skin is broken, swollen, red or infected, avoid using salicylic acid based products.

The Frequency Of Using Salicylic Acid

The frequency may also differ as per the formulation. You may use an OTC product as directed by the manufacturer or a doctor. Hereâs what you can do:

  • SA creams for corns and calluses: Use once every 3-5 days.
  • SA gels for acne: Use once a day.
  • SA gel for warts: Apply once a day.
  • SA lotions for acne: Use 1-2 times a day.
  • SA soaps for acne: Use as needed.

Salicylic acid is extremely potent and if used excessively, it may cause side effects. Letâs take a look.

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How Do Salicylic Acid Cleansers Work

Cleansers containing salicylic acid are the best option for people who have acne. The salicylic acid will work unclogging the pores and prepare the skin for acne treatment cream to better penetrate the skin. In contrast to harsher acne cleansers, a salicylic acid cleanser is mild, non-irritating, and suitable for even the most sensitive skin when used in the right concentration. For the best results, cleansers with salicylic acid should be massaged gently into the entire face , creating a nice lather for around 20-seconds, then rinsed off with tepid water.

Utilizing Salicylic Acid While Pregnant And Breastfeeding

Salicylic Acid | What it is & How it Treats Your Acne

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists notes that topical salicylic acid is safe to utilize while pregnant. Also check microneedling aftercare.

Nevertheless, you ought to read to your doctor if youre thinking about utilizing salicylic acid and are pregnant or breastfeeding so you can get guidance particular to your circumstance, specifically in regard to other medications youre taking and medical conditions you may have.

A 2018 reportTrusted Source on the use of salicylic acid during breastfeeding kept in mind that while salicylic acid is unlikely to be taken in into breast milk, you ought to not apply it to any locations of your body that may enter contact with an infants skin or mouth.

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Cerave Sa Smoothing Cleanser

One of our favourite skincare products of all time, this cleanser is formulated with salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and three ceramides to gently exfoliate your skin. It has a gel-like consistency, so massages easily into damp skin. While it does a good job of removing stubborn makeup in the process, we preferred to use it as a second cleanse in the evening.

CeraVe gives its smoothing abilities first billing, but where it really changed our life was with our acne. While we do still get the odd spot here or there, this made the biggest dent in our spots of any other product we tried. It also smoothed out rough skin on our nose and if youve ever suffered from keratosis pilaris on your arms, it offers a quick and easy fix to that irritating texture.

A lot of salicylic products are drying if used on the entire face, but this has never left us looking anything but glowing and hydrated. It also leaves your moisture barrier intact. And if we havent sung its praises enough, its budget-friendly and lasts a shockingly long time .

How Long Does It Take To Work

The amount of time necessary for acne treatment with salicylic acid to produce noticeable results will vary depending on a number of factors. These include the severity of the acne, the treatment method and whether treatments are carried out at home or in a professional setting.

Studies have shown that a cleanser formulated with this acid, when used twice daily, dramatically reduces the quantity and severity of acne symptoms within four weeks.

Professionally administered chemical peels can produce long-lasting and dramatic results after only a single procedure. However, these procedures may require up to four weeks of downtime depending on the strength of the peel.

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Why Even Worry About Salicylic Acid And Sun Exposure

As we all know, excessive sun exposure can in itself be harmful to the skin. It can cause premature skin aging and, in some cases, can result in serious consequences, such as skin cancer.

Concerns about salicylic acid and sun exposure are based on the fact that alpha hydroxy acids, which are closely related to salicylic acid, do make the skin more sensitive to the sun. A compelling amount of evidence shows that AHAs can increase sun damage in skin cells.

For instance, research indicates that using AHAs for four weeks can increase skin redness caused by the sun by 18% and can double the sun damage to skin cells. In other words, your skin may be more sensitive to the sun and may burn more easily while you use AHAs.3

Because of this, the FDA recommends that manufacturers label products containing AHAs with this statement:

  • “Sunburn Alert: This product contains alpha hydroxy acid which can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and especially the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards.”3

However, salicylic acid is probably much less sensitizing than AHAs. So, while there is good reason to take precautions in the sun while using AHAs, you can likely rest easy when it comes to salicylic acid. Still, it is better to stay on the safe side and wear sunscreen when using topical products with salicylic acid while we wait for more research evidence to come in.

What Are The Benefits Of Salicylic Acid For Acne


Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, meaning it penetrates the oil gland to decrease sebum production and shrinks pores. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pimples by minimizing swelling and redness.It has an affinity for the oil gland and an antibacterial effect against cutibacterium acnes, a bacteria well known to have a role in the development of acne says Abdulla. Salicylic acid also has keratolytic , allowing it to loosen and dissolve dead skin cells to treat and prevent clogged pores and acne.

Salicylic recap

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How Does Salicylic Acid Help Treat Acne

Salicylic acid is easily absorbed by the skin and exhibits three different properties that can help treat acne:

  • Preventing clogged pores: It dissolves a protein that is present in the skin called keratin. This helps loosen skin cells so that they can be shed more easily, which keeps to prevent clogged pores.2,3
  • Clearing already-clogged pores: It clears clogged pores by penetrating into the pore and dissolving skin oil and dead skin cells, which helps loosen debris that is clogging a pore.4
  • Reducing inflammation: It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness and soreness that is characteristic of acne.4
  • While results are not dramatic, studies show that salicylic acid works consistently better than placebo, with almost everyone experiencing at least some improvement in acne symptoms.

    Expand to read details of studies

    A 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology tested a three-step acne regimen on 24 adult women with acne. The three steps in the regimen were:

    1. A cleanser

    2. A 2% over-the-counter salicylic acid cream

    3. A gel containing sodium copper chlorophyllin complex

    Salicylic Acid Side Effects

    Salicylic acid is safe and effective for most people. However, like with many other ingredients in acne treatments and other skincare products, it can cause certain side effects. Potential side effects of salicylic acid include:

    • Skin irritation, including red and/or dry skin

    • Soreness and stinging in the area where the salicylic acid is applied

    Although rare, salicylic acid products can potentially cause more severe side effects. You should contact your healthcare provider immediately if you feel dizzy, confused, nauseous, tired, overly weak, or if you develop a headache, hearing loss or fast breathing after using salicylic acid.

    Finally, seek emergency medical help immediately if you develop hives, itching, itchiness in your throat, feelings of faintness, difficulty breathing or swelling that affects your eyes, lips, tongue or face after using salicylic acid.

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    How Does Salicylic Acid Deal With Acne

    When your hair roots get plugged with dead skin cells & oil, blackheads and , whiteheads , and pimples typically appear.

    Salicylic acid permeates into your skin and works to liquify the dead skin cells obstructing your pores. It can take scant weeks of use for you to see its complete impact. Check with your skin doctor if you arent seeing outcomes after 6 weeks.

    Salicylic Acid Is An Excellent Exfoliant

    How to Use Salicylic Acid (BHA) for DRY, Acne Skin

    Salicylic acid can break down dead skin cells and is a great exfoliator. It is a keratolytic drug that produces softer outer layers of skin. Salicylic acid carries out a ‘hemolytic’ action. By doing so, the cells on the skin’s outer layers break apart after loosening. While suffering from acne, skin cells do not behave normally. Instead, they clog pores by sticking together by having an unhealthy skin cell cycle, creating blackheads. Salicylic acid removes the dead skin cells by loosening them. This dissolves blackheads and acne.

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    Using Salicylic Acid For Acne

    Salicylic acid treats acne in a few different ways. Because it is an anti-inflammatory, it can help reduce swelling caused by certain types of acne like papules and pustules.

    As an exfoliator, salicylic acid sloughs away the outermost layer of skin . This helps remove the dead skin cells that can lead to pore blockages and acne.

    Research also suggests that salicylic acid has antibacterial properties, which may help to prevent acne that is infected and inflamed.

    How To Use It

    The recommended concentration of a salicylic acid product varies from person to person and should be discussed with your dermatologist, and the same applies to how often you use a salicylic acid treatment. In general, Marmur says to use salicylic acid in moderation until you know your skin can tolerate it. Start off applying it every few days, and take note of how your skin reacts after each application. “The key is to listen to your skin,” Mudgil advises. “If it’s getting irritated, you’ll need to take a day or two off and perhaps be a bit more vigilant with moisturizing.” As far as the amount used, Marmur stresses the importance of following the direction of your doctor. “Dont do more or less, and dont use it for longer than recommended,” Marmur says. “Apply just enough salicylic acid to cover the affected area and rub it into the skin gently.”

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    Is Salicylic Acid Good For All Skin Types

    While salicylic acid products are an excellent choice for fighting blackheads, they may not be appropriate for all skin types. Because salicylic acid dries out the skin and decreases sebum production, it can cause already dry skin to peel and become irritated.

    If you experience excessive dryness after using salicylic acid, you may want to consider a blackhead treatment especially formulated for dry skin, such as one containing glycolic acid.

    If you have sensitive skin, you can still use salicylic acid as part of your skin care routine, but you may want to limit your usage to just once or twice per week, depending on how well you tolerate it.

    Precautions To Be Aware Of Before Using Salicylic Acid

    Does Salicylic Acid Make Your Skin More Sensitive to the ...

    Even though salicylic acid is available in OTC preparations you can pick up at your local grocery store, you should talk with your doctor before using it. Considerations to discuss include:

    • Allergies. Let your doctor know if youve experienced allergic reactions to salicylic acid or other topical medications before.
    • Use in children. Children may be at more risk of skin irritation because their skin absorbs salicylic acid at a higher rate than adults. Salicylic acid should not be used for children under the age of 2.
    • Drug interactions. Certain medications do not interact well with salicylic acid. Let your doctor know what medications youre currently taking.

    You should also tell a doctor if you have any of the following medical conditions, as these may affect their decision to prescribe salicylic acid:

    • increase in breathing depth

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