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Salicylic acid topical

Generic Name: salicylic acid topical (SAL i SIL ik AS id TOP ik al)
Brand Name: Acnevir, Bensal HP, CeraVe SA Renewing, Compound W, DermalZone, Dermarest Psoriasis Skin Treatment, Dr Scholl's Clear Away Wart Remover, Dr Scholl's Corn Removers, Freezone Corn Remover, Keralyt, Mediplast, Oxy Face Scrub, Scalpicin Scalp Relief, Stri-Dex, Wart Remover, ...show all 147 brand names

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Aug 9, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is salicylic acid topical?

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (peeling agent). Salicylic acid causes shedding of the outer layer of skin.

Salicylic acid topical (for the skin) is used in the treatment of acne, dandruff, seborrhea, or psoriasis, and to remove corns, calluses, and warts.

There are many brands and forms of salicylic acid available. Not all brands are listed on this leaflet.

Salicylic acid topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Salicylic acid topical can cause a rare but serious allergic reaction or severe skin irritation. Stop using salicylic acid topical and get emergency medical help if you have: hives, itching; difficult breathing, feeling light-headed; or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use salicylic acid topical if you are allergic to it.

Do not use this medicine on a child or teenager who has a fever, flu symptoms, or chickenpox. Salicylates applied to the skin and absorbed into the bloodstream can cause Reye's syndrome, a serious and sometimes fatal condition in children.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if this medicine is safe to use if you have:

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • diabetes; or

  • blood circulation problems.

Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

How should I use salicylic acid topical?

Salicylic acid topical is available in many different forms, such as liquid, gel, lotion, cream, ointment, foam, soap, shampoo, cloth pads, and skin patches. Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor.

Salicylic acid topical can cause a rare but serious allergic reaction or severe skin irritation. Before you start using salicylic acid topical, you may choose to apply a "test dose" to see if you have a reaction. Apply a very small amount of the medicine to 1 or 2 small acne areas every day for 3 days in a row. If there is no reaction, begin using the full prescribed amount on the 4th day.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

You may need to shake the medicine before use. Follow all directions on the product label.

It may take up to several days before your symptoms improve. Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.

Do not use salicylic acid topical to treat any skin condition that has not been checked by your doctor.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep the foam canister away from open flame or high heat. The canister may explode if it gets too hot. Do not puncture or burn an empty aerosol canister.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of salicylic acid is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using salicylic acid topical?

Do not use on open wounds or on sunburned, windburned, dry, or irritated skin. Rinse with water if salicylic acid topical gets in your eyes or mouth.

This medicine may be flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Wash the medicine off your hands before handling a hair styling appliance (such as a curling or straightening iron). High heat could cause the medicine to ignite and burn your skin.

Do not smoke until the gel has completely dried on your skin.

Avoid using other medications on the areas you treat with salicylic acid topical unless your doctor tells you to.

Salicylic acid topical side effects

Salicylic acid topical can cause a rare but serious allergic reaction or severe skin irritation. These reactions may occur just a few minutes after you apply the medicine, or within a day or longer afterward.

Stop using this medicine and get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, itching; difficult breathing, feeling light-headed; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Also stop using salicylic acid topical and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe headache, ringing in your ears, problems with hearing, thinking problems;

  • severe stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • shortness of breath; or

  • severe burning, dryness, or irritation of the skin.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Salicylic acid topical dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Acne:

Salicylic acid topical 1% pad:
Cleanse affected area. Apply 2 to 3 times daily. If dryness occurs, reduce to every other or once a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatological Disorders:

Salicylic acid topical 16.7% liquid:
Wash and dry area thoroughly. Apply enough to cover each wart 1 to 2 times daily.

Salicylic acid 3% topical soap:
Apply to affect areas at least twice weekly. Leave lather on scalp or skin for two minutes then rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Salicylic acid topical 6% cream:
Apply to affected area once daily. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area at night. Wash off in morning.

Salicylic acid topical 6% lotion:
Apply to affected area once daily. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area at night. Wash off in morning.

Salicylic acid topical 6% foam:
Apply to affected area once daily at bedtime. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area after application. Wash off in morning.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acne:

Salicylic acid topical 1% pad:
12 years or older: Cleanse affected area. Apply 2 to 3 times daily. If dryness occurs, reduce to every other or once a day.

What other drugs will affect salicylic acid topical?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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