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Salicylic Acid

What is Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid (phenolic) is the most common beta hydroxy acid. This organic compound is one of the most important “natural hormones” and plays an important role in the life of organisms. The name of the chemical comes from the Latin word “salix”, which means willow. The bark of this plant is very rich in phenolic acid.

Salicylic Acid

For the first time, salicylic acid was obtained by the Italian scientist Rafael Piria, he asked first “what is salicylic acid”. Subsequently, the German chemist Kolbe proposed the simplest way to synthesize it, which pharmacists use to this day, using special laboratory equipment and instruments. Salicylic acid is colorless crystals that dissolve well in diethyl ether, ethanol, other organic (polar) solvents, and slightly dissolve in water, carbon disulfide.

What is Salicylic Acid Topical Used For?

After the first solution of this drug was obtained in the 19th century, its properties, as well as an answer to what is the salicylic acid question, did not change. Far from immediately, it found its application in cosmetology, so the substance was originally:

  • keratolytic;
  • strong antiseptic;

What does salicylic acid do? Topical salicylic acid is an antibacterial, antimicrobial drug that can be used as an external disinfectant. With the help of aspirin, wounds, dermatological diseases, cosmetic defects are treated. The preparation is able to penetrate deeply into the pores of the skin, stimulating blood circulation. The keratolytic properties of the drug include the exfoliation effect, which manifests itself due to the drying of the upper skin layers. The medication has the following cosmetic effects, i.e, it:

  • hides acne spots;
  • regulates the secretion of sebum;
  • whitens and dries the face;
  • discolors blackheads;
  • kills germs that provoke the appearance of acne, pustules.

Salicylic acid is part of many anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents that are produced to solve problems with facial skin. The main task of this element is to disinfect the surface of the tissue, penetrate deeply into it, and destroy bacteria. It should be borne in mind that not only harmful but also beneficial microorganisms die. Drying of the skin occurs and the production of sebum is reduced. Already formed pimples are disinfected and they go out through the ducts to the surface.

Salicylic Acid 12%

Salicylic Acid Most Common Uses

Due to its antiseptic properties, this chemical reagent is widely used in medicine, pharmacology, cosmetology, food industry, and other fields. What does salicylic acid do? The most widely salicylic acid uses are present in:

  1. Medicine. As early as 2,500 years ago, salicylic acid was used as a pain reliever (aspirin). Currently, it is the basis for the production of many drugs with antipyretic, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiseptic effects. An important property of this chemical reagent is the ability to break down keratins, which leads to the removal of dead skin cells, as well as stimulation of their renewal. Thanks to this property, salicylic acid helps to heal many skin diseases. For this purpose, in pharmacology, it is used in the production of antiseptic ointments, plasters, powders, pastes, and alcohol solutions. As a distracting, irritating, and anti-inflammatory agent, salicylic acid is effectively applied in the treatment of diseases such as:
    • infectious (inflammatory) processes of the mucous membrane or skin;
    • psoriasis, pityriasis Versicolor seborrhea with hair loss;
    • burns, eczema, ichthyosis, dermatitis.
  2. Cosmetology. Salicylic acid uses are present in cosmetology to remove acne, warts, and blackheads. The keratolytic (softening, dissolving, rejecting) effect that this chemical compound has causes clogged hair follicles to open. The oxidizing properties of this chemical reduce the oiliness of the skin, stimulate the exfoliation of dead cells, activate the skin renewal process, improve the texture and tone of the skin, smooth fine wrinkles, and allow moisturizers and masks to be absorbed better into the skin.
  3. Food industry. Due to the antiseptic effect, many housewives use salicylic acid when preserving food, in order to avoid the fermentation process of fruit and berry juices, mashed potatoes; in the confectionery and bakery industry – to prevent the growth of yeast fungi.


Salicylic acid is intended for application in people with increased sebum secretion. How does salicylic acid work? The product has antibacterial properties, relieves inflammation, and dries problem areas. For the face, it is better to use a 1% acid solution to prevent the aggressive effect of the chemical on the skin. If the preparation is too concentrated, it can lead to overdrying of the skin and intense production of sebum, which leads to new blockages, and therefore the new appearance of acne.

What does a salicylic acid preparation do? Salicylic acid is a versatile remedy that is effective for:

  • suppressing the secretion of sebum, exterminating of the oily gleam of the face;
  • disinfection of hands when treating the face, combating bacteria provocateurs of acne and redness;
  • drying acne;
  • bleaching age spots after unsuccessfully squeezed acne;
  • eliminate irritation.

Acid penetrates deep into the layers of the skin, healing inflammation from the inside, and removes the contents of the pores. A solution or ointment has a cosmetic property to even out the complexion and to lighten wound sites.

Dermatological Disorders

The salicylic ointment is a remedy for external use, it is not intended for ingestion and application to mucous membranes. The major functioning ingredient is salicylic acid. The amount of the main component may be different, this parameter is indicated on the label in percentages.

The use of salicylic ointment is advisable for various skin problems (dermatological disorders), including:

  • atopic dermatitis;
  • eczema;
  • psoriasis;
  • seborrheic dermatitis;
  • acne;
  • psoriasis;
  • corns, warts, and hyperkeratosis.

What is the Most Important Information I Should Know About Salicylic Acid Topical?

What is salicylic acid? Salicylic acid is the most common ingredient in cosmetics for problem skin. There are several important facts about this drug that needs to be known to those who plan to use it. Here, they are:

  1. Salicylic acid exfoliates the epidermis, purifies pores, and obliterates dead skin cells.
  2. The maximum allowable content of salicylic acid in a beautifying remedy should be no more than 2%. However, there are clinical studies showing that products with such a high concentration cause skin irritation in 1 in 4 consumers.
  3. Salicylic acid has a weak antibacterial effect.
  4. In cosmetics with salicylic acid and natural ingredients of the plant origin can be perfectly combined, for example, extracts of herbs and medicinal plants. It is better to choose those products that consist of operating ingredients of plant origin. The action of salicylic acid alone is not enough to fight acne, for example.
  5. The combined use of various cosmetic products with salicylic acid provides a faster effect and an integrated approach to the care of problem skin without irritating it at all.

NOTE! Try to use products from the same line for problem skincare. In this case, you will see results much faster.

Side Effects

The salicylic acid uncontrolled uses in unlimited quantities can lead to the formation of allergic rashes.

In addition, the following side effects of salicylic acid can be observed:

  • redness, peeling of the skin;
  • increased dryness of the epidermis;
  • the appearance of cracks, followed by suppuration;
  • burns;
  • the appearance of spots and scars.

With the prolonged treatment, the drug may be absorbed into the general circulation and the development of side effects characteristic of salicylates: tinnitus, dizziness, epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, acidosis, rapid breathing, etc.

The application of salicylic acid products should be carried out strictly following the instructions of a specialist.

How to Take Salicylic Acid Topical?

The salicylic acid topical products are permitted if there are:

  • oily skin;
  • acne;
  • no allergies.

The mechanism of action of this gel is that it dries out, kills bacteria, and regulates the sebaceous glands. But, this does not mean that you can use salicylic acid cream without special rules and abuse it. It is advisable to start cleansing your face with a 1% solution. It is permissible to use the product twice a day. After the accumulation of salicylic acid occurs – usually a couple of days – the result will be visible. It is worth remembering that prolonged use of acid leads to addiction to the body. Then you need to take a break and then start over.

What is salicylic acid? Salicylic acid is a unique remedy that can be used to treat various skin diseases, so, there are also a lot of ways to take salicylic acid topical. It is applied both in pure form to wipe the problematic dermis, and as a component in various products. On its basis, you can make a tonic, cream, mask, etc. The most effective recipes for products made on the basis of salicylic acid topical are described below.

Acne Treatment

Salicylic acid is sold in the pharmacy in a diluted, ready-to-use form. In order to start using the product, you just need to dip a cotton pad or cotton swab in acid, and then apply the product to your face. If there are a lot of inflammatory processes on the face, then the preparation should be distributed over the entire skin surface in a thin layer – for this, solutions with a low content of the product (1-2%) are used.

Facial Peeling for Age Spots and Wrinkles

Effective cleansing of the pores of the face can be carried out utilizing exfoliating salicylic acid. In this case, the process will be carried out according to the following scheme:

  • soften the skin with special tonic;
  • degrease integuments using lotion;
  • treat the skin of the face with salicylic acid, which should be neutralized with warm running water after the tingling sensation has appeared;
  • apply a moisturizer to the dermis.

Homemade Cream Recipe

What is a salicylic acid lube?A homemade cream can be made by mixing the following ingredients:

  • 30 gr. petroleum jelly;
  • 7 gr. castor oil;
  • 35 gr. zinc oxide;
  • 5 ml. salicylic acid;
  • 25 gr. rice starch.

Correct Salicylic Acid Uses

Here are some tips for those who don’t know how to cleanse their face with salicylic acid gel for acne.

  • Before you wipe your face with this drug, you need to remove your makeup. After that wash it down with warm water.
  • Wipe the skin with a towel.
  • Take a cotton swab and moisten it in salicylic acid.
  • If a drug is used to combat acne, then smear the affected skin with a moistened stick.
  • If there is a lot of acne, a 1% solution is used to wipe problem areas.
  • If during application there is a sensation of discomfort for the skin (burning, tingling), it is necessary to wash off the product with warm water.

Salicylic ointments can also be used to combat acne. They are applied only to areas with acne; healthy skin cannot be lubricated. In this case, a 2% ointment is used. After applying the ointment, a bandage is applied to the pimple for 2-3 minutes. Such procedures should be carried out from 5 days to 2 weeks.

Dosage Considerations

The remedy should be used exclusively topically. The patient needs to treat the affected surface with a solution/cream/gel 2-3 times a day.

The maximum daily dose for adults is 2 g of salicylic acid (20 ml of 1% and 10 ml of 2% solution/serum); for children over 1-year-old – 0.2 g of salicylic acid (2 ml of 1% and 1 ml of 2% solution). The course of treatment is no more than 1 week.

If after treatment there is no improvement or the symptoms worsen, or new symptoms appear, you should consult your doctor. Use the products only according to the indications, the method of administration, and the doses indicated in the instructions for use of the preparation.

Who Should Avoid Using Salicylic Acid?

The most significant reason not to start therapy with salicylic acid is the presence of individual drug intolerance. The fact is that such exposure can lead to an allergic reaction.

The use of acid is highly discouraged in case of renal failure and in children under 3 years of age. It is necessary to understand that the body of each person is individual. Even if there are no contraindications mentioned above, it is not worth denying the possible appearance of negative phenomena anyway.

The skin can be very sensitive from person to person. In this case, even the “lightest” acid solution can produce unfavorable reactions. Therefore, before implementing the treatment, one must consult with a qualified specialist. Though, typically, salicylic acid remedies don’t provoke burns or worsen the condition of the skin. But, despite this, such a possibility should not be ruled out, at least, because the skin can be hypersensitive.

Before Taking This Medicine…

How does a salicylic acid product work? It is important to remember that salicylic acid for some people can be an extremely dangerous drug that requires certain precautions to take before its usage. So, before starting therapy with this remedy, make sure you are familiar with these tips:

  • You should refuse to use salicylic acid solutions, the concentration of which is higher than two percent.
  • It is not worth using acid above 5% at all, since there is a high probability that you will not achieve the desired result, but, on the contrary, get serious burns of the skin surface or simply dry it out.
  • It is not recommended to apply the product to areas where there are moles, warts, or birthmarks to omit severe consequences.


The use of salicylic acid is contraindicated in patients with diabetes mellitus because it aggravates the negative consequences of the use of hypoglycemic agents. When interacting with zinc oxide, there is a good possibility of the formation of insoluble zinc salicylate. Due to this circumstance, these two substances are not used simultaneously.


Cases of salicylic acid overdose are extremely rare but do occur. The latter can manifest itself in the form of an allergic rash or itching. To neutralize negative manifestations, salicylic acid should be washed off the surface with ordinary warm water. Succeeding that, one obligatory must consult a doctor about the advisability of further treatment. In cases where the patient accidentally drank salicylic acid, gastrointestinal flushing is required. A patient ought to call an ambulance immediately.

Missed Dose

If a person misses a dose of salicylic acid, they should use the medicine as soon as possible. Although if the period of time is already too long, you should wait for the planned use of the means.


The drug should not be kept in too cold or damp places, this excludes its storage in the bathroom or in the refrigerator. You should also carefully monitor the state of the acid as such; a change in the smell or color of the contents of the bottle is unacceptable. After opening, the bottle is stored for no more than one month.

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