Is There Any Way to Prevent Post Glycolic Peel Breakouts?

I did my first glycolic peel a week ago and broke out from it. Pimples are still here after a week. I did a 2nd one tonight and feel the pimples coming to the surface. I know this is part of the purging process, but is there anything I can do to lessen the effects? I treated the areas that are about to break out with zeno. I realize it's risky with compromised skin, but I'm desperate. I used a 20% soln for 90 secs. Is it safe to dilute it and leave it on overnight? (using peel for cystic acne)

Doctor Answers 3

Use Tretinoin Cream to Improve Outcomes with Glycolic Acid Peels

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I always have patients begin topical tretinoin cream (Retin-A, etc.) at least 2-4 weeks prior to beginning Glycolic Acid Peels.  This prepares the skin for an acid environment and helps to improve exfoliation of the outer layers of skin.  The only proviso is that I ask patients not to use this for a night or two just prior to the peel, since this can increase peeling or burning of the skin after the peel. Use of concurrent tretinoin cream with Glycolic Acid peels definitely decreases the likelihood of post-peel breakouts.

Sheldon V. Pollack, MD, FRCPC

Toronto Cosmetic Skin Surgery Centre, Inc.

Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

Breakouts from a Glycolic Peel

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Using tretinoin cream for at least one month prior to your peel will usually give you a more effective, even peel with greater penetration. Tretinoin cream is prescription only and can be purchased on line at Also, I find that salicylic acid peels such as the new Obagi Radiance Blue Peel are much more effective as an acne treatment than glycolic acid peels.

Peels & Breakouts

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The peel is probably just bringing toxins to the surface.  I do not recommend diluting it and leaving it on overnight.  When doing peels it can appear worse before it gets better, so hang in there.  You can use the zeno to lessen the breakouts and help the skin heal.

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.