Is It Dangerous To Use 20% Salicylic Acid/Chemical Peel to Get Rid of Blackheads on a Body and Face?

I would like to try this peel and I saw that it's possible to buy it without prescription. Is it dangerous to use without consulting a dermatologist?

Doctor Answers 4

Blackheads and Salicylic Acid

Usually the salicylic acid is not dangerous.  However, I would recommend using it under a physician’s supervision so that they can monitor it.  As for blackheads, they usually need to be extracted for best results.

Palm Springs Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Sal peel for acne

I would definitely recommend that you first see a dermatologist to get on topical and/or oral meds to control your acne.  Sal peels are great to expedite the process of cleaning out your skin, and can help prevent new pimples from forming, but you should not rely on them solely as your acne regimen.  Your homecare regimen is very importany in maintaining the results of the peels.   After you see your dermatologist you can talk to an aesthetician who has experience with peels (make certain they are comfortable doing them with your skin type) to help control your oil production and clear up your skin a little faster.  Good luck!

Joseph Serota, MD
Aurora Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

You should see a dermatologist

Dermatologists are skin care specialists - and no one is as well trained to diagnose and treat skin disorders.  There are many factors to consider when treating superficial acne - I suggest you consult an experienced cosmetic dermatologist and make an appointment for an evaulation of your acne.  Your insurance should cover it - but best to call first and ask them if there will be a problem, since insurance coverage is determined by your policy.  I would prefer you see a physician first and get an expert opinion as to what your skin needs - then ask them if your skin would do well with the peel you're interested in using.  Good luck!

Laura E. Skellchock, MD (in memoriam)
Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Salicylic acid peels

In general, salicylic acid peels (SA) are safe for most skin types. They are usually administered by a dermatologist or an esthetician. Both of whom have licenses to do superficial chemical peels. Wit SA peels, the percentage and the number of passes can effect the results as well as side effects such as pain, excess peeling. Although I have not seen scarring from a 20% or even 30% SA peel it is a theoretical risk if done improperly.  The best thing to do is to have someone experienced do your peels for you although this will be a more costly approach then home treatments. .  Home peels can be unregulated and risky due to the inconsistent quality control of over the counter products. Getting your treatement through a dermatologist's office is the only way to ensure that you receive a high quality, medical grade, tested and controlled consistent product.  If you choose to do it on your own it would be best to educate yourself like an esthetician before taking on such procedures since they had to go through testing and  licensing to be able to perform these procedures consistently and safely.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.