Salicylic acid is often used in products that are prescribed for acne. It is also anti-inflammatory and bactericidal in nature. This write-up provides information on its mechanism of action and the adverse effects associated with its use.
Salicylic acid is a crystalline organic acid that is obtained from the bark of the willow tree. Dermatologists generally recommend it for treating common skin problems such as warts, acne, psoriasis, corns, and calluses. It is often used in face washes, soaps, face masks, and peels for acne-prone skin. Though it is quite beneficial, certain untoward effects could arise if it is either applied in a wrong manner or used in a highly concentrated form.
How Does it Work
This colorless beta hydroxy acid works as a very potent exfoliant. This is the reason why most dermatologists recommend it for acne control. Acne is primarily caused due to skin pores getting clogged with dead skin cells and sebum. This beta hydroxy acid helps in shedding off dead skin cells, which in turn helps prevent future acne outbreaks. It also prevents blackheads and whiteheads from appearing on the skin. Since the dead skin and debris get sloughed off due to the action of peels, creams, or lotions that contain this acid, it creates room for healthy skin to surface. When used in a higher concentration, it helps in removing hard skin in the form of corns, calluses, or warts. Dermatologists generally recommend its use for the removal of warts. This organic acid is also used for making anti-dandruff shampoos. Though its use can prove beneficial for those affected by the aforementioned skin ailments, certain adverse effects might be experienced, if one doesn’t apply it as per the directions.
Though most of the topical acne drugs that contain salicylic acid are well-tolerated, if one doesn’t apply it properly, it might cause some adverse skin reactions. The following side effects are likely to be felt, if it is applied on infected, broken, or irritated skin:
➞ Burning sensation
➞ Caution must be exercised by those who are topically applying the product on the face. In some cases, it could cause dryness, redness, peeling of the skin, and burning sensation.
➞ At times, an adverse reaction might occur if one is topically applying salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide formulations at the same time.
➞ Adverse effects might also be experienced if the medicated product includes a very high concentration of this beta hydroxy acid. You must make sure that you apply it only the parts of the skin that are affected by the skin condition.
➞ Medicated creams or lotions containing this acid must not be applied on healthy skin. Since this beta hydroxy acid can cause other chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin, it must be used sparingly and that too as per the directions.
➞ If taken orally, this acid can enter the bloodstream. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must refrain from taking it orally or applying it on large areas of the skin, as there’s lack of scientific data on its effect on pregnant women. It is believed that its use might increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects in the newborn. Pregnant women must therefore consult the doctor and follow their advice.
➞ Side effects could also be experienced, if one is also using an alcohol-based skin care product with creams, lotions, or other medicated products that contain this beta hydroxy acid.
➞ Some people might also develop an allergic reaction to this beta hydroxy acid. This could manifest in the form of severe skin irritation, shortness of breath, facial swelling, or swelling in the throat. Such people must never use products that contain this acid.
Though salicylic acid is definitely very useful in treating common skin problems, one might experience untoward effects if it is not used as per the directions. If you have been experiencing any of these side effects, you must discontinue its use and consult a dermatologist immediately.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.