I’m sure you’ve heard of salicylic acid, and I’m even more certain that you’re probably aware that it can be used on your skin. The chemical gets its name from the Latin term for willow trees, salix, because it was first made from a complex carbohydrate found in willow bark. Salicylic acid is one of the most important treatments for those with acne and oily skin. The problem with most acne products that list salicylic acid as an ingredient are that they do not contain the right concentration of salicylic acid at the right pH.
- Salicylic acid is an exfoliant ingredient that is chemically similar to aspirin. Like aspirin, salicylic acid can remove redness and inflammation as it opens pores.
- Whether salicylic acid successfully exfoliates the skin depends on the concentration and pH of the product. Exfoliant products that are too alkaline will not work.
- Anyone who intends to use salicylic acid should do so under the care of a dermatologists.
Safely Using Salicylic Acid?
Salicylic acid is the only beta-hydroxy acid used in skin care. This product is used to treat mild to moderate acne, and it may be used in combination with other acne treatments. Applying a mild solution of salicylic acid directly to the skin yields many of the benefits of scrubbing, without the risk of rupturing pores or breaking tiny blood vessels. Salicylic acid treatment, however, has many benefits that simple scrubbing does not. Gently removing dead skin does more than just open pores. Salicylic acid increases cell turnover. This makes the skin grow faster. It also increases collagen production, filling in indentations in the skin, increasing elasticity. It removes discoloration from the skin, although it is often too strong for use on dark skin.
How to safely use salicylic acid
Follow all directions on the product package. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor, dermatologist or pharmacist.
Before using this product for the first time, check if you are allergic to it. To check, put a small amount on one or two small areas of acne for three days. If you have an allergic reaction, stop using this product immediately and get medical help right away. If you don't have an allergic reaction, you can use the product.
If you are using a cream, lotion, solution, or gel, apply a thin amount of the medication to the areas of your skin affected by acne, usually 1 to 2 times a day or as directed by your doctor. Before applying each dose, gently wash the affected area with a mild cleanser, then pat dry. Apply a small amount of medicine to the affected area and rub in gently. If using the pads, wash the affected skin with a mild cleanser, then pat dry. Wipe the pad gently onto the skin to apply the medication, usually 1 to 3 times a day or as directed by your doctor. Wash hands after use.
If using cleansers containing salicylic acid, wet the affected area. Gently rub the cleanser into the skin for 10 to 20 seconds. Do not scrub the skin. Work into a full lather and rinse thoroughly, and then pat dry. If too much drying occurs, you may need to rinse the cleanser off sooner or use it less often. Consult your doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist for further details.