Chemical Peels - Too Risky for Sensitive Skin?

I have freckles and very sensitive skin. I have been doing peels for a year. Will these peels damage sensitive skin?

Doctor Answers 4

Sensitive skin types may receive chemical peel treatments safely.

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Sensitive skin types may receive chemical peel treatments safely. However, it is important to choose a peel that is appropriate for each individual’s skin type. Performing a more aggressive peel on a sensitive skin patient could be disastrous, especially if the patient has not built up a tolerance for chemical exfoliation.

For a patient who has very sensitive skin, I would start with a very light peel with acids that have larger molecules and are known to be less irritating. Mandelic and lactic acids are a few examples of such acids. Furthermore, for a patient who is tends to be reactive to skin care products and has a history of allergic reactions, I would highly suggest or require a patch test 24 hours prior to the actual procedure. If there was no abnormal reaction, we would at least know that there is no allergy present that could cause adverse effects.

Again, the most important consideration in peeling sensitive skin is appropriate peel selection and starting off slow. With the right protocol, sensitive skin can actually benefit from chemical peels and become more resilient over time. With a long term treatment plan, stronger peels may also be used, as the sensitivity is under control.

Chemical Peels for Sensitive Skin

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Having sensitive skin does not preclude you from getting chemical peels.  There chemical peel lines that are especially formulated for patients with very sensitive skin.  I would recommend that you under the care of a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon and that you do not go to your local salon to have these procedures performed.  If you do have an issue you want the best of care.

Lisa Kates, MD
Annapolis Dermatologist

Go for lighter chemical peels and you should be OK

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Sensitive skin is OK for lighter chemical peels. These can decrease freckling and improve texture to a minor degree. As long as you take it easy, you should do well.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Peels do not usually damage sensitive skin.

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People with sensitive skin, however, often only tolerate very light chemical peels.  I do not recommend deeper chemical peels for sensitive skin because they are not as well tolerated, and redness tends to persist for a prolonged period of time.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

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.