Salicylic Acid - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Salicylic Acid: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It is also known as a ‘face acid’ as it is an excellent treatment for acne, pigmentation, psoriasis, and dandruff. It is also used for getting rid of calluses, skin warts, and corns on the feet.
Salicylic acid acts by exfoliating the skin and helping to keep the pores of the skin clear. Thus, it reduces acne and blackheads. All of this makes it the chosen ingredient in a variety of OTC skin products.

What are the uses of salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a peeling agent that causes the shedding of the outer layer of the skin. It is one of the best agents for treating acne and preventing future breakouts.
This ‘face acid’ can penetrate the skin to purge the pores of dead skin cells. It helps in exfoliating skin and getting rid of wrinkles, scars, pigmentation, and brownish age spots. This is truer especially for products with higher concentrations of salicylic acid.

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What are the side effects of salicylic acid?

Common side effects of salicylic acid are peeling of the skin, itching, stinging, and change in color of the skin. These are nothing to be worried about.

However, serious side effects are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and severe stomach pain
  • Severe headache
  • Thinking problems
  • Severe dryness or burning of the skin
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat

Cease the application and call the doctor immediately if you experience these.

What is Salicylic Acid

Uses of Salicylic Acid

Side effects of Salicylic Acid


Frequently Asked Questions about Salicylic Acid

1. Is salicylic acid good for the face?

Salicylic acid is the biggest enemy of acne. It can help clear a pimple overnight. It also helps prevent pimples and skin blemishes in people prone to acne by penetrating the pores and unclogging them naturally. It promotes exfoliation of the outer layer of the skin and is a great anti-inflammatory agent.

2. What does salicylic acid do?

Salicylic acid 'deep penetrates' the skin and can unclog skin pores to dissolve blackheads and whiteheads effectively. It is commonly used to remove the outer layer of the skin as it helps the epidermis to slough off more readily. It also prevents pores from clogging up and facilitates cell growth.

3. Can I use salicylic acid daily?

Salicylic acid is not suitable for you if you have dry, scaly skin. It can make the skin drier and more irritated at the beginning of the treatment. Start by applying this medication less often at first, and then scale up gradually. Following the product usage advice and talking to your doctor are recommended.

4. Is salicylic acid soluble in water?

Salicylic acid is not readily soluble in water at room temperature. It needs to be converted to salicylate if you want it to dissolve completely in water. Its solubility is also dependent on the pH of the solvent. It dissolves very well in water at a pH level of 3. Its solubility can be raised by using ethanol and glycols.

5. Can I use salicylic acid and niacinamide together?

Yes. These are two skin-friendly ingredients that work well together. Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 and a powerful hyperpigmentation treatment agent. It blocks the transport of melanin from the pigment-producing cells to the skin cells. With niacinamide's help, salicylic acid can access the oil glands and reduce sebum production for better acne prevention.

6. Does salicylic acid cause purging?

Yes. Salicylic acid contains active ingredients that increase the skin cell turnover rate, causing your skin to peel and flake. This is called purging. The heightened cell turnover rate leads to increased cell formation. Hence, more dead skin cells are shed faster than normal and this leads to the unclogging of skin pores.

7. Which food contains salicylic acid?

Fruits containing salicylic acid are:

  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Dates
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwis
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Prunes
  • Raspberries
Vegetables like cauliflower, alfalfa, mushrooms, broad beans, radishes, peppers, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, and eggplant are also good sources of salicylic acid. Tomato sauce, vinegar, and soy sauce are also rich in salicylic acid.

8. Can you use salicylic acid when pregnant?

Yes, you can safely apply salicylic acid once or twice a day even when pregnant. Do be aware that seemingly innocuous products like skin cleansers and toners commonly include salicylic acid. So do dandruff shampoos, acne creams, and lotions. This ingredient should not be more than 2% in any product that you use.

9. Why is salicylic acid bad?

While the acid itself isn't bad, higher concentrations can be. Salicylic acid chemical peels can have higher concentrations of this acid. Side effects like hives, burning and stinging of the skin, peeling, dryness, etc. are thus more common. Typically, topical formulations using salicylic acid for treating acne are safe if you follow the instructions.

10. How long does it take for salicylic acid to work?

It can take weeks and sometimes even longer before you notice the full benefits of a salicylic acid formulation. Your condition can get worse within the first few days of treatment, as your skin may purge in reaction to the active ingredient. Therefore, follow all dosage directions to avoid mishaps.



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      Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.