How Can I Reverse the Damaged from Salicylic Peel?

I have been using salicylic acid 20% for 2 weeks. I have oily, sensitive skin. 2 days ago, I had a reaction: part of my skin turned red and brownish. I stopped using it, but now it has been 5 days and the red area is not fading. I am afraid it might stay like this. Is this possible? What can I do to reverse the damage?

Doctor Answers 3

Do not panic, yet!

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It is very common for the area peeled to get darker before it lightens the area. Please avoid direct sun exposure and wear sunscreen to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. A good protocol is to pretreat the area with skin lighteners PRIOR to peeling to reduce PIH, but I would not call it PIH until it lasts longer than 10 days. Your dermatologist can treat PIH early, so be sure to get a follow up in 7-14 days post peel. FYI, in general, I prefer global to spot peeling for acne and its residual discolorations.

New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Hyperpigmentation after a peel

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you will need to see your dermatologist to help lighten this skin. It looks like you have postinflammatory hyperpigmentation due to sun exposure while in the healing process of your peel. You will likely need bleaching agents and must stay out of the sun.

Twenty percent salicylic acid is too strong for everyday.

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If you are using a peel pad that is twenty percent salicylic acid, that is too strong for everyday use.  See your dermatologiist who can prescribe you a topical medication to help with healing and stay out the sun completely until this problem is resolved.

Patricia Farris, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon

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.