FAQs Salicylic Acid Peels

What will salicylic acid peels do for my skin?

Salicylic Acid is part of the family of beta-hydroxy acids, known as BHAs, which has been shown to have antibacterial and large spectrum antifungal effects. You should see a reduction in the appearance of blemishes, whiteheads, blackheads, and other acne lesions. In addition, the peel unblocks pores and exfoliates the treated skin.

How is the peel performed?

After cleansing, we apply the salicylic solution (beta-hydroxy acid). A sensation of mild burning, stinging, and/or itching may occur during this several minute period. You will be monitored carefully during the entire process. A protective moisturizer and sunscreen is then applied, taking less than 20 minutes for the entire process.

How many peels will I need?

Because salicylic peels are superficial, and thus safer than other types of chemical peels, improvement is gradual. We recommend a series of 4, with a minimum of 10 days apart. Once desired results are achieved, some patients find a series of peels every 3-4 months helps to maintain beneficial effects. Unfortunately, salicylic peels are not covered by insurance.

Do I need to use any special products?

Because salicylic acid may dry the skin, we recommend an oil- free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Glycolic creams, and Retin A/Renova creams if used, must be stopped 2 days prior to each peel. At all times, SPF 30 or greater sunscreen (preferably containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) should be worn outdoors to maintain improvement, and avoid sunburn and discoloration.

What are the risks?

Most people respond to a salicylic acid peel with only mild redness lasting several days. Adverse reactions such as peeling, scabbing, infection, recurrence of cold sores, and sensitivity to wind and sun are uncommon but possible. Rarely, areas of persistent darkening or lightening of the skin may occur, but this risk can be minimized by careful sun protection after the peel. We do not perform salicylic peels on patients who have used the acne medicine Accutane during the prior 6 months or are taking an oral medication that may interact with Salicylic Acid (for example anticoagulant therapy).