Sallicylic acid peels?

My 17 year old son has quite bad acne and is on antibiotics and Azalea Acid 15%. I have started using a 10% sallicylic acid peel once a week, starting at one minute and then adding a minute on each week. Is this a good idea? He has tried other medications, but they have not helped.

Doctor Answers (2)

Beta Hydroxy Acid (salicylic acid) Peels Work Well For Acne Treatment & Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

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Salicylic acid peels (aka beta hydroxyacid peels to distinguish them from alpha hydroxyacid peels, like glycolic acid) can play a very useful role, in combination with topical and oral therapies, for treating acne vulgaris. Unlike other superficial peeling agents, including the alpha hydroxyacids, salicylic acid possesses the distinct advantage of being lipid-soluble, meaning that it can penetrate down the oil gland pores where the acne process gets started and progresses.

I have been using salicylic acid peels successfully, in the form of in-office treatments, in maximal concentrations (as opposed to low strength home peels) for many years with gratifying results in concert with topical anti-acne medications, such as retinoids, azelaic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. Typically a series of four treatment sessions, spaced at two to four week intervals is needed to achieve optimal results.

Since post-inlammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), the blotchy and aesthetically troubling skin staining that follows as the aftermath to active acne lesions, plays such a significant role in the whole acne evolution, salicylic acid, which can help to fade these stains, can additionally play a significant role in reducing the degree of post-clearing dyspigmentation and its duration, which, if left to spontaneously resolve, may last for many weeks to month.

I have found that OTC salicylic acid preparations, which contain very low percentages (typically about 2%) can be helpful, as well, in acne treatment, but cannot compare in speed of response and overall efficacy to the in-office, high potency versions.

Consultation with a board certified dermatologist is the best way to create an anti-acne treatment regimen that is tailored to specific needs.


New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Exfoliating peels for acne in Los Angeles

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Our office recommends a specific exfoliating and non exfoliating peel for acne. Home treatments do not afford the same degree of efficacy.

Raffy Karamanoukian MD FACS

Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

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