Acne is a skin disorder that needs special attention, and we can control it by taking proper action. One of the most common and effective ways of treating acne is by using salicylic acid. Salicylic acid acne treatment is found to work for many people and is relatively cheap. However, it may not work for others and fortunately, there are other options that the acne sufferer can take.
Salicylic acid is one of best over the counter acne treatment products out there. It can clear most mild to moderate type of acne and with continued use, actually prevents future outbreaks. Just like any other chemical agent, it has some side effects that make some people stop using it. But these side effects may be lessened or eliminated with proper skin care.
What it is
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid which is chemically related to aspirin and the alpha hydoxy acids (AHAs) commonly found in many exfoliants and skin products. It is derived from the willow tree and is used for many skin conditions. Aside from acne it is used for warts, calluses, corns, and psoriasis. As an OTC product it is effective for milder cases of acne, i.e. non-inflamed blackheads and whiteheads. It can be found in various cleansers, lotions, creams, toners, and treatment pads.
Some of the well-known products that use salicylic acid as its active ingredient are:
- Clearasil products
- Dermalogica Medicated Clearing Gel
- Murad Acne Body Wash (2%)
- Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash (1%)
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
- Noxzema Anti-Acne Gel
- Noxzema Anti-Acne Pads
- Oxy products
- Palmer's Skin Success Acne Cleanser
- Phisoderm Clear Confidence Acne Body Wash
- SkinCeuticals Acne Care System
- Stridex products
How it works
One of the factors leading to acne is abnormal shedding of the skin that leads to blocked oil glands. Oil or sebum builds up and bacteria on the skin multiply, causing the familiar pimples. Salicylic acid works by stimulating the shedding of the top layer of the skin and keeping the pores open so sebum does not build up, preventing acne formation.
How to use it
Salicylic acid is available in a concentration of 0.5% to 2%. People with sensitive skin do best with a 1% (or less) salicylic acid solution, whereas people with more severe acne will probably need a 2% salicylic acid solution. Once a day application is usually enough to clear the skin. Unless advised otherwise by your doctor, it is advised not to use other topical treatments when using salicylic acid. This is because your skin will likely get too dry and irritated, and you will reduce its effectiveness.
To get full benefits, apply it all over the face and not only on the affected areas. Doing so will prevent breakouts as salicylic acid prevents clogged pores and clears micro comedones (whiteheads and blackheads). Continued use of salicylic acid is recommended to help prevent future breakouts. As soon as you stop using it, you could see acne return.
Typical side effects include skin irritation, burning, itching peeling, dryness, and flaking. All of these side effects can be controlled through the use of an oil-free moisturizer. If side effects become severe you should stop use immediately and consult a dermatologist.
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective treatments available for mild cases of acne. But as we can see, each acne product does not work the same for everyone. So it is with salicylic acid; many people will benefit from it and see their acne improve, but there will be those whose acne will get worse using the same product. Fortunately there are other options available like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. That is why it is important to see a dermatologist regularly so he or she can monitor your progress accordingly.