Salicylic Acid (Topical)

Salicylic Acid is a topical liquid or lotion used for cleaning and for treating a wide range of skin conditions and disorders. This treatment is commonly available without a prescription, although some preparations will require a prescription from a doctor.

Overview

Salicylic Acid is used in the treatment of a wide range of skin disorders. It is used in different dosage forms and strength and is supplied in a range of different manners for use on skin conditions.

The product is available in all of the following forms:

  • Cream
  • Dressing
  • Foam
  • Gel
  • Jelly
  • Liquid
  • Lotion
  • Ointment
  • Pad
  • Paste
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Solution
  • Stick

Available brands of the treatment include the following:

  • Zapzyt
  • Wart-Off Max Strength
  • Virasal
  • Tinamed
  • Ti-Seb
  • Therasoft Anti-Acne
  • Thera-Sal
  • Stri-Dex
  • Seba-Clear
  • Salvax
  • Salkera
  • Salitop
  • Salex
  • Salacyn
  • Salactic Film
  • Salac
  • Sal-Plant Gel
  • Sal-Acid Plaster
  • Propa pH
  • Palmers Skin Success Acne Cleanser
  • P S
  • Oxy Balance
  • Off-Ezy
  • Occlusal-HP
  • Neutrogena
  • Mosco Corn Callus Remover
  • Mg217 Sal-Acid
  • Mediplast
  • Lupicare
  • Keralyt Scalp
  • Keralyt
  • Ionil Plus
  • Ionil
  • Hydrisalic
  • Gordofilm
  • Gets-It CornCallus Remover
  • Fung-O
  • Freezone
  • Durasal
  • Duoplant
  • Duofilm
  • Drytex
  • DHS Sal
  • Dermarest Psoriasis
  • Corn Removing
  • Compound W
  • Betasal
  • Avosil
  • Aliclen
  • Akurza

This treatment is commonly available without a prescription, but a doctor's prescription may be required for certain dosage forms and strengths.

Conditions Treated

  • Acne
  • Calluses
  • Common warts
  • Corns
  • Dandruff
  • Plantar warts
  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp
  • Seborrheic dermatitis of the skin
  • Skin disorders

Type of Medicine

  • Analgesic
  • Bacteriostatic
  • Fungicidal
  • Keratolytic

Side Effects

In addition to the desired effects that can arise from the use of this treatment, other side effects may occur that can be unwanted. In some cases, these may require that the patient seeks medical attention for the treatment and alleviation of these side effects. In other cases, these side effects may not require any medical interaction at all and may abate naturally over time.

If you experience the following, you should contact your doctor immediately for medical advice:

  • An irritation of the skin that was not previously present.
  • Difficulty experienced when breathing
  • Dryness of the skin
  • Faintness or fainting
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Peeling of the skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the lips
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Unusual warmth of skin

Other side effects that would not normally necessitate the seeking of medical attention are listed below. If these side effects are ongoing or become bothersome, however, then you should seek medical advice on how to alleviate them.

  • A mild irritation of the skin that was not previously present
  • Stinging of the skin

It is possible to overdose on this medication. If you believe that you or someone else has overdosed on this medication, you should contact the emergency services immediately.

Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Increased speed or depth of breaths
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of hearing
  • Nausea
  • Rapid breath
  • Ringing in the ears not heard by others
  • Severe and ongoing headaches
  • Severe drowsiness or tiredness
  • Stomach pains
  • Vomiting

Other side effects that have not been listed herein may also occur. If you experience any other side effects then you should contact your doctor in order to seek advice. If, however, you are concerned about your immediate wellbeing, you should seek emergency medical attention.

Dosage

This medication should only be used as directed by a doctor, or in cases where the treatment has been purchased without a prescription, you should follow the instructions on the label. Using these treatments incorrectly can increase the risk of them being absorbed by the body and the patient could suffer from salicylic poisoning. Overdosing is possible with this medication, so you should ensure you follow the dosing instructions closely.

This medication should only ever be used on the skin. It should not be used on the nose, eyes or mouth. If you do get any of this treatment into any orifice, you should wash it out immediately.

If you have purchased this treatment over the counter, you should try it before using it on all of the affected areas. Use a small amount on a small affected area for two to three days. If no unwanted side effects occur, you can begin use as directed on the packaging and in treatment leaflets.

If your doctor has prescribed an airtight wrap to be used with this treatment, you should ensure that you know how you are meant to apply this and how long you should leave it on for. Using wraps will increase the absorption into the body and can increase the risk of poisoning from salicylic acid. You should only use as directed and you should consult your doctor if you have any questions.

You should use these products as follows:

For the use of the cream, ointment or lotion:

  • Cover the affected area and rub in gently until absorbed.

For the use of the gel:

  • Apply wet packs or damp cloth to the affected area for a period of at least five minutes before use
  • Apply the gel covering the affected area and rub in gently until absorbed

For use of the pad:

  • Wipe the pad on to the affected areas
  • Leave the residual medicine on your face after use and do not wipe it off

For the use of the plaster in the treatment or corns, warts or calluses:

  • Read the medication instructions supplied with the treatment before use
  • Do not use this treatment in areas that are irritated or on broken skin
  • Do not use this treatment if you suffer from diabetes or have restricted blood circulation
  • Do not use this medication on warts that appear on the face, on the sexual organs inside the nose or inside the mouth
  • Do not use on moles or birthmarks
  • Thoroughly wash the area that needs treating before use
  • Soak the wart for five minutes and then dry thoroughly
  • Cut the plaster to fit and apply

In the treatment of corns and calluses:

  • Repeat the process once every 48 hours until the corn or callus falls off. Do this for up to 14 days or as directed by your doctor.
  • Soaking for five minutes before application will aid in removal.

In the treatment of warts:

  • Repeat the process once every 48 hours or until the wart falls off.
  • Apply the plaster at night and leave in place for at least eight hours.
  • Remove the plaster in the morning.
  • Can be repeated for up to 12 weeks.

If discomfort from the wart or callus increases during treatment, or if the infection spreads, you should inform your doctor.

For the use of shampoo:

  • Wash the hair and scalp before use with lukewarm water
  • Apply a lather and massage well into the scalp for two to three minutes
  • Rinse
  • Apply once again and then rinse thoroughly
  • Do not wash your hair immediately after use

For the use of the soap:

  • Create a lather and then scrub the affected area using hot water and a facial mitt or sponge
  • In a footbath, you should work up a foam and then soak for 10 to 15 minutes

For use as a topical solution:

  • Use a cotton ball or a pad to apply the treatment to the affected area.
  • Do not rinse treatment off after use.

For the use of topical solutions on warts, calluses, and corns:

  • Read the medical guidance booklet closely.
  • Do not use near open flame or while smoking.
  • Do not use on irritated or broken skin.
  • Do not use if you are diabetic or suffer from poor circulation.
  • Do not use on the growths on the face, genitals or inside the mouth or nose.
  • Do not attempt to remove birthmarks or moles.
  • Avoid inhaling vapors.
  • Wash the affected area thoroughly.
  • Soak the area in warm water for 5 minutes before drying.
  • Apply the medication as a drop to cover each growth.
  • Repeat twice daily for up to 12 days when treating warts.
  • Repeat twice daily for up to 14 days when treating corns and calluses.

If the affected area gets worse or grows during treatment then you should consult your doctor.

Except in cases where it is the hands being treated, you should wash your hands immediately after use.

For treatment with the topical dosage form (cream):

In treating corns and calluses:

  • Adults - Use the 2 to 10% cream as needed. Use the 25 to 60% cream once every 3 to 5 days.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 2 to 10% cream as needed. Use the 25 to 60% cream once every 3 to 5 days.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the dosage form (gel):

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use the 0.5 to 5% gel once a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 0.5 to 5% gel once a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating psoriasis:

  • Adults - Use the 5% gel once a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 5% gel once a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating common warts:

  • Adults - Use the 5 to 26% gel one time a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 5 to 26% gel one time a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the topical dosage form (lotion):

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use the 1 to 2% lotion one to three times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 1 to 2% lotion one to three times a day
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating dandruff and antiseborrhic dermatitis of the scalp:

  • Adults - Use the 1.8 to 2% lotion on the scalp one or two times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 1.8 to 2% lotion on the scalp one or two times a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the topical dosage form (ointment):

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use the 3 to 6% ointment as needed.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 3 to 6% ointment as needed.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis:

  • Adults - Use the 3 to 10% ointment as needed.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 3 to 10% ointment as needed.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating common warts:

  • Adults - Use the 3 to 10% ointment as needed. Use the 25 to 60% ointment one time every 3 to 5 days.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 3 to 10% ointment as needed. Use the 25 to 60% ointment one time every 3 to 5 days.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the pads dosage form:

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use one to three times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use one to three times a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the plaster dosage form:

In treating corns, calluses, common warts, or plantar warts:

  • Adults - Use once a day or once every other day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use once a day or once every other day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the shampoo dosage form:

In treating dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp:

  • Adults - Use on the scalp one or two times a week.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use on the scalp one or two times a week.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the soap dosage form:

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use as needed.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use as needed.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

For treatment with the topical solution dosage form:

In treating acne:

  • Adults - Use the 0.5 to 2% topical solution one to three times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 0.5 to 2% topical solution one to three times a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating common warts and plantar warts:

  • Adults - Use the 5 to 27% topical solution one or two times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 5 to 27% topical solution one or two times a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

In treating corns and calluses:

  • Adults - Use the 12 to 27% topical solution one or two times a day.
  • Children 2 years of age and older - Use the 12 to 27% topical solution one or two times a day.
  • Children younger than 2 years of age - Use is not recommended.

If you miss a dose you should take it as soon as possible. If you miss a dose completely then simply skip the dose and return to your usual schedule. Do not attempt to use a double dose.

Interactions

Certain medicines should not be used in conjunction with one another as they can interact in the body of the patient. In some cases, this will stop one or both or the medications from working properly and in more serious cases this can cause severe unwanted side effects or increase the risk of exposure to certain side effects. You should inform your doctor of all medications that you are taking, including any over the counter medication, herbal remedies and other prescribed medications that you are taking. This is especially important in the following cases:

The use of Salicylic Acid in conjunction with the following medication would not normally be recommended. Your doctor may wish to use an alternative medication to treat you if you are already taking the following:

  • Ketorolac

The use of Salicylic Acid with the following medications would not normally be recommended. If you are prescribed both medications then your doctor may make adjustments to how frequently you take each medication and to the doses of each medication:

  • Xipamide
  • Vortioxetine
  • Vorapaxar
  • Vilazodone
  • Venlafaxine
  • Valdecoxib
  • Trimipramine
  • Trichlormethiazide
  • Triamterene
  • Treprostinil
  • Torsemide
  • Tolmetin
  • Tolfenamic Acid
  • Tirofiban
  • Tinzaparin
  • Ticlopidine
  • Ticagrelor
  • Tiaprofenic Acid
  • Tianeptine
  • Tenoxicam
  • Tacrolimus
  • Sulindac
  • Spironolactone
  • Sibutramine
  • Sertraline
  • Rofecoxib
  • Reviparin
  • Reboxetine
  • Protriptyline
  • Proquazone
  • Propyphenazone
  • Proglumetacin
  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Prasugrel
  • Pralatrexate
  • Polythiazide
  • Piroxicam
  • Piketoprofen
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium
  • Pemetrexed
  • Paroxetine
  • Parnaparin
  • Parecoxib
  • Paramethasone
  • Oxyphenbutazone
  • Oxaprozin
  • Opipramol
  • Nortriptyline
  • Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
  • Nimesulide
  • Niflumic Acid
  • Nepafenac
  • Nefazodone
  • Naproxen
  • Nadroparin
  • Nabumetone
  • Morniflumate
  • Milnacipran
  • Metolazone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Methyclothiazide
  • Methotrexate
  • Meloxicam
  • Melitracen
  • Mefenamic Acid
  • Meclofenamate
  • Meadowsweet
  • Lumiracoxib
  • Loxoprofen
  • Lornoxicam
  • Lofepramine
  • Lithium
  • Levomilnacipran
  • Ketoprofen
  • Indomethacin
  • Indapamide
  • Imipramine
  • Iloprost
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hydroflumethiazide
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Gossypol
  • Ginkgo
  • Furosemide
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluocortolone
  • Flufenamic Acid
  • Floctafenine
  • Feverfew
  • Feprazone
  • Fepradinol
  • Fenoprofen
  • Felbinac
  • Etoricoxib
  • Etofenamate
  • Etodolac
  • Ethacrynic Acid
  • Escitalopram
  • Eptifibatide
  • Epoprostenol
  • Eplerenone
  • Enoxaparin
  • Edoxaban
  • Duloxetine
  • Droxicam
  • Doxepin
  • Dothiepin
  • Dipyrone
  • Dipyridamole
  • Digoxin
  • Diclofenac
  • Dibenzepin
  • Diazoxide
  • Dexketoprofen
  • Dexibuprofen
  • Dexamethasone
  • Desvenlafaxine
  • Desipramine
  • Deflazacort
  • Danaparoid
  • Dalteparin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cyclopenthiazide
  • Cortisone
  • Clopidogrel
  • Clopamide
  • Clonixin
  • Clomipramine
  • Citalopram
  • Cilostazol
  • Chlorthalidone
  • Chlorothiazide
  • Certoparin
  • Celecoxib
  • Cangrelor
  • Bumetanide
  • Bufexamac
  • Budesonide
  • Bromfenac
  • Betamethasone
  • Beta Glucan
  • Benzthiazide
  • Bendroflumethiazide
  • Bemiparin
  • Aspirin
  • Ardeparin
  • Anagrelide
  • Amtolmetin Guacil
  • Amoxapine
  • Amitriptylinoxide
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amineptine
  • Amiloride
  • Acemetacin
  • Aceclofenac
  • Abciximab

Use of Salicylic Acid in conjunction with the following medications can cause an increased risk of exposure or increased severity of certain side effects. Using both medications in conjunction with one another may still be the best treatment for you, but your doctor may wish to adjust the dose used or make changes to the frequency of use of the treatments:

  • Zofenopril
  • Warfarin
  • Valsartan
  • Trandolapril
  • Timolol
  • Temocapril
  • Telmisartan
  • Tamarind
  • Spirapril
  • Sotalol
  • Ramipril
  • Quinapril
  • Propranolol
  • Probenecid
  • Practolol
  • Pindolol
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Phenindione
  • Perindopril
  • Pentopril
  • Penbutolol
  • Oxprenolol
  • Olmesartan
  • Nebivolol
  • Nadolol
  • Moexipril
  • Metoprolol
  • Metipranolol
  • Losartan
  • Lisinopril
  • Levobunolol
  • Labetalol
  • Irbesartan
  • Imidapril
  • Fosinopril
  • Esmolol
  • Eprosartan
  • Enalaprilat
  • Enalapril
  • Dicumarol
  • Delapril
  • Cilazapril
  • Celiprolol
  • Carvedilol
  • Carteolol
  • Captopril
  • Candesartan
  • Bisoprolol
  • Betaxolol
  • Benazepril
  • Azilsartan Medoxomil
  • Azilsartan
  • Atenolol
  • Anisindione
  • Alacepril
  • Acenocoumarol
  • Acebutolol

Other interactions may occur that have not been listed herein. This list has been compiled due to severity of risk, but may not be all-inclusive. You should inform your doctor of all medications and substances that you take.

The presence of other medical conditions can also impact the use of certain medications. In some cases, medical conditions can be worsened by treatment or can prevent certain treatments from working effectively in the treatment of another condition. You should inform your doctor of all medical conditions from which you suffer or from which you have suffered in the past. This is particularly important with the following conditions:

Use with the following conditions can cause severe ulceration on the feet and hands:

  • Blood vessel disease
  • Diabetes

Do not use in patients with the following as the disease may develop into Reye's syndrome:

  • Influenza
  • Varicella (also know as chicken pox)

These conditions can lead to unwanted effects if used for a prolonged period in patients with the following:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Other medical conditions not discussed here can also impact the use of this treatment. You should inform your doctor of all medical conditions from which you suffer before beginning treatment with this medication.

Warnings

Before taking the decision to use this medication, it is important that you consider both the risks of doing so and the factors that may interact with the medication in relation to the benefits of use. You should consider this with your doctor in relation to all of the factors listed herein. Ensure that you have considered the following:

Allergies

It is possible to have allergic reactions to this medication and to other medications too. Before taking this medication you should inform your doctor of any unusual reactions that you have had previously to medications and you should inform them of any other allergies you have had to dyes, preservatives, animals or other substances.

Pediatric

Young children will be at higher risk from the use of Salicylic Acid than adults and will be more likely to suffer an allergic reaction. This treatment should not be used over large areas in children as this will increase the chance of Salicylic Acid poisoning. Nor should this treatment be used with an air-tight covering in children. Use under the age of 2 would not be recommended.

Geriatric

There are no known limitations to use in the elderly population. However, elderly people are more likely to suffer from other medical conditions that may prohibit use.

If your symptoms become worse with use then you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

When you are using this treatment you should not also be using any of the following treatments unless you have been directed to by your doctor:

  • Abrasive soaps
  • Abrasive cleaners
  • Preparations containing alcohol
  • Preparations containing a peeling agent
  • Cosmetics or soap that cause the drying of skin
  • Medicated cosmetics
  • Other topical medications for the skin

Use of these in conjunction with Salicylic Acid will cause severe irritation of the skin.

Salicylic Acid can cause Salicylate toxicity, which is a serious condition. It is more likely to occur in children and in patients with kidney or liver disease. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following conditions:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Hepernea
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Psychic disturbance
  • Tinnitus
  • Vomiting

Over the counter acne medications can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. If you experience the following symptoms of severe allergic reaction then you should seek emergency medical attention immediately:

  • Feeling of faintness
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Swollen eyes, lips or face
  • Swollen tongue or throat tightness
  • Troubled breathing

If you react seriously to a treatment then you should not ever use it again. Seek medical advice on alternative treatments that you could make use of.

Storage

Store medication in a sealed container.

Keep out of the reach of children at all times.

Do not leave treatments where they may be mistakenly used. For example, do not leave the shampoo where it may be mistaken for normal shampoo and used by a friend or family member.

Do not keep outdated medication. This should be properly disposed of.

Summary

Salicylic Acid is a medication that can be used in the treatment of a wide range of skin conditions and disorders. It is available in a wide range of forms and most of these are available to purchase without a prescription. Some forms of this medication, however, will require you to get a prescription from your doctor.

This treatment is available in a range of forms including but not limited to: plasters, creams, pads, shampoos, gels, jellys and lotions. Each form has a different application type and method so you ensure that you read the directions for use carefully before using this treatment.

This medication can cause severe allergic reactions and unwanted side effects. This is more likely to occur in young children and in adults with liver disease or kidney disease, but it could happen to any patient. To reduce the risk of a severe reaction you should apply the treatment to just a small area of the affected skin for a few days as directed on the packaging. Once you have observed that no unwanted reactions are occurring then you can expand the treatment across the affected area.

It is possible to suffer an overdose of Salicylic Acid and be poisoned by the treatment. You should not exceed doses as directed by your doctor or on the packaging of the treatment.

This treatment may be prescribed along with instructions to create an air-tight seal over the treated area. Doing so will increase the level of absorption into the body and make the treatment more effective. This should never be done to children and should not be done unless directed to by a doctor as it will increase the chance of suffering from an overdose of this treatment.

Levels and methods of dosing with this treatment will vary dramatically depending on the condition being treated and the product being used. However, for all uses of this treatment, it is important that you clean the skin and affected area thoroughly before use and then dry the affected area before application. Depending on the treatment, the residue may need to be left on the skin or wiped off after treatments. Always ensure that you wash your hands immediately after use unless the hand is the area being treated.

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Last Reviewed:
January 30, 2018
Last Updated:
April 26, 2018
Content Source: