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Chemical Peels for Acne

Chemical Peels for Acne
Chemical peels are acids that can be applied to the face around once in two weeks. Their application removes dead skin cells, reduces clogged pores, eventually shrinking the breakout of acne. They are available in different strengths, and the treatment should be ideally performed by a professional.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Acne is a common skin problem where clogged skin pores get inflamed due to bacterial infection. For some people, it is a serious condition and cannot be treated with over-the-counter medicines or home remedies. In such cases, one can use chemical peels for treating acne. This is a safe and effective acne solution which makes the skin clean, clear, and healthy.

What are Chemical Peels?

It is nothing but a chemical-based acidic solution. When it is applied on the facial skin, it works like an exfoliating agent. The upper layer of the skin disintegrates from the underlying surface and is peeled off. As a result, a fresh, healthy, and unaffected skin is revealed. This process is also known as chemexfoliation or derma peeling and is equally effective on acne as well as on the ugly scars left behind by old acne. Based on the level of penetration into the skin, peels are categorized into three different types. They are as follows:

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) Peels: They are also known as superficial peels and are a very mild or light form of peel. They help get rid of dead skin cells that tend to clog up the skin pores and cause acne. They not only make your skin acne-free, but also improve the skin condition by promoting the growth of new skin cells.

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) Peels: They are considered as medium-depth peels that penetrate into the skin and destroy the underlying bacteria that causes acne. Thus, the root cause of acne is eliminated and frequent acne eruptions are prevented. They also fill up large skin pores left behind by previous acne outbreaks.

Phenol Peels: They are made up of strong chemicals and can penetrate deep into the skin. As they have a bleaching effect on the skin, they may cause skin burns. For this reason, this treatment is not suitable for all. A number of factors, like severity of acne, skin type, level of skin oil, skin pigmentation, etc., are taken into account before deciding on whether one should undergo this treatment or not.


In general, a mild to moderate peel is considered as the best option for treating acne. You can purchase over-the-counter mild chemical peel products and use it at home. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer and follow the same while using the peel at home. You can apply it on areas where there are acne breakouts. If you have acne all over the face, then apply it everywhere. After the treatment, the skin heals up quite fast as it does not have any harsh effect on the skin. When you get acne outbreaks quite often, you can repeat the procedure after a gap of every 6 weeks for best results.

For a medium peel, you have to visit a spa or salon. A skin test is conducted in a small area to check if the peel suits your skin, after which you can go ahead with the treatment. One single session of this treatment may take around 30 - 45 minutes. Depending on the skin condition, you may require more than one session for complete eradication of acne. The healing time for the skin after treatment is about a week or two. During this time, you have to follow certain guidelines provided by the professionals on skin care.

For a deep peeling procedure, a certified dermatologist should be consulted. He first conducts physical examination of the acne condition, studies the medical history, and discusses what you can expect from the treatment. When the acne condition is still active and severe, he may not recommend a deep peel treatment. It is more suitable for superficial acne. In this procedure, acid solution is applied and allowed to soak into the deeper layers of the skin. Then the acid is neutralized, and the face is cleaned up. It is a safe procedure, but one may experience pain and stinging sensation on the treated skin in the first few hours. These side effects are not serious and can be controlled with suitable medicines. Pain-relieving medicines are given to control this pain. As the recovery time is long in this treatment, doctors often prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

The cost largely depends on the type of peel being used. An over-the-counter mild peel cost is not more than $30. Spas and salons charge around $100 for medium peel treatments. Deep chemical peeling conducted by a dermatologist is the most expensive one, and will cost you thousands of dollars.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical professional.