Salicylic Acid

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?


In the fight against acne, sometimes it's not enough just to keep your face clean. After all, acne is primarily caused by the excess oil production that's stimulated by fluctuating androgen hormones, so that stubborn zit might have nothing to do with how clean and moisturized your face is. When you've got a crop of acne that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, it's time to pull out the big guns by enlisting salicylic acid in your battle against acne.

You may recognize salicylic acid as one of the most popular ingredients in blemish treatments and face washes. But what exactly is salicylic acid, and what role does in play in the fight against blemishes and acne?

Salicylic acid is most commonly found in topical medications, as applying this derivative of beta hydroxyl acid promotes the proper shedding of the cells of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). Since dead skin cells can clog up the pores of newly emerging skin, this contributes to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads and other annoying forms of acne that can seemingly crop up overnight. Salicylic acid speeds up the skin shedding process, thus inhibiting or preventing clogging.

The acid can also help break down existing whiteheads and blackheads, allowing you to see and feel clearer skin in a short amount of time. One of the best features of salicylic acid is also one of the less well-known. As salicylic acid helps to promote the removal of the epidermis and exfoliate the new emerging skin, this means that the appearance of acne scars will fade more quickly than if you didn't use it.

Users may experience a stinging sensation upon applying medication with salicylic acid directly to the face. Since this acid can be irritating on sensitive skin, it's best not to apply it to the undereye area or use it too frequently if your skin is easily irritated. Common products that contain salicylic acid include topical spot treatments, face wash and skincare pads. Like with most acne medications, you shouldn't use salicylic acid in conjunction with another medicine unless otherwise directed by a doctor or a physician.

Although side effects are generally mild and usually appear in the form of skin irritation and sensitivity, it's best to consult your doctor or physician before using a topical treatment with salicylic acid, as some people do have allergies to products containing this acid.

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