Salicylic acid belongs to the same class of drugs as aspirin (salicylates). When used topically for skin treatments, it works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin and dissolving the substance that causes the skin cells to stick together. This makes it easier to shed the skin cells.
Salicylic acid belongs to a group of medicines known as keratolytics. It is often used in combination with other ingredients in peels and topical skin treatments to improve skin tone and texture, and to treat acne.
How does salicylic acid work?
Salicylic acid works by softening keratin, a protein that forms part of the skin structure. This helps to loosen dry scaly skin making it easier to remove. When salicylic acid is used in combination with other medicines it takes off the upper layer of skin allowing the additional medicines to penetrate more effectively.
In acne, salicylic acid helps slow down shedding of the cells inside the follicles, preventing clogging, as well as helping to break down blackheads and whiteheads.
Salicylic acid helps correct the abnormal desquamation process that occurs in acne-prone skin. It works as an exfoliant, promoting the sloughing away of dead skin cells.
Salicylic acid can penetrate the follicle, encouraging the shedding of dead skin cells to keep the pores clear of cellular debris. In this way, it reduces the number of pore blockages and breakouts on the skin.
How is Salicylic acid used to help my skin?
As with most topical treatment medications, salicylic acid must be applied over the entire face or affected body area. Using the product only as a spot treatment on visible breakouts is ineffective.
At Cosmetic Doctor, Dr. Lisa Fay uses several products with a high concentration of salicylic acid to improve patients’ skin – for instance, it’s one of the primary ingredients in Obagi Blue Peel Radiance, and she also uses it for patients with acne and acne scarring.
When it’s applied over the entire affected area, it can prevent pore blockages and help clear microcomedones (tiny blemishes too small yet to see.)
Continuous use of a salicylic acid product is necessary to obtain and maintain positive results. If you stop using your treatment product, the pores will again clog with excess oil and dead cells, and acne can return, so regular treatments are needed for maintenance.
To make an appointment and receive a comprehensive skin assessment to determine a treatment plan, call Cosmetic Doctor in Dublin on 01 685 3100 or visit our Acne Treatments page.