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What are the side effect of salicylic acid?

5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics
4 doctors agree

In brief: Dry irritated skin

Salicylic acid is an over-the-counter acne medication.
It can cause excess dryness and some scaliness of the skin, but these side effects can be lessened with an oil-free moisturizer. It can also cause irritated skin, which improves if the salicylic acid is used less frequently. Salicylic acid is less irritating than benzoyl peroxide but is likely less effective than benzoyl peroxide against acne.

In brief: Dry irritated skin

Salicylic acid is an over-the-counter acne medication.
It can cause excess dryness and some scaliness of the skin, but these side effects can be lessened with an oil-free moisturizer. It can also cause irritated skin, which improves if the salicylic acid is used less frequently. Salicylic acid is less irritating than benzoyl peroxide but is likely less effective than benzoyl peroxide against acne.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Dr. Robert Kwok
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