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How Effective is Salicylic Acid for Acne?

Salicylic acid is often recommended as a treatment for acne and other skin conditions. But just how useful is it? Read on to know more...
Aastha Dogra
Blackheads, pimples, pustules―these are the various forms in which acne appears on the skin. It is unsightly, discomforting, and can cause a lot of pain to the one experiencing it. A poor diet, hormonal imbalance, oily skin, stress, improper hygiene, and most importantly, puberty, are the main culprits behind acne. As it is so common, the market is flooded with over-the-counter ointments and medication to treat it.
Salicylic acid is a very common ingredient in various creams, gels, lotions, face washes, face cleansers, skin toners, medicated pads, and other skin products. It is an organic, beta-hydroxy acid, derived from the bark of the willow tree. In skincare products, this acid is available in concentrations ranging from 0.5% to 2%.
The effectiveness of this chemical lasts only as long as you continue its application. The moment you give up on the treatment, the acne will come back! However, you should at least give it a try once to see whether it has any positive effects on your skin.
Exfoliates the Skin
The reason behind the recommendation of salicylic acid is that it is a very good skin cleanser. A major reason why a person suffers from acne is that the dead skin cells tend to shed and block the pathways of sebum, resulting in acne. As salicylic acid has the ability to penetrate the follicles, it sloughs away the dead skin cells in the follicle, thus clearing the pores. This brings down the blockages, and lowers the incidence of acne in the process!
Removes Blackheads
Regular application of salicylic acid helps in loosening the blackheads as well as the whiteheads, though it may take a few months.
Suitable for Sensitive Skin
One of the greatest benefits of salicylic acid is that it can be applied on all kinds of skin. So, even if you have an extremely sensitive skin and are apprehensive about applying other kinds of treatments, you can apply salicylic acid without any kind of worry.
Reduces Swelling and Pain
It is great in bringing down any kind of swelling or inflammation associated with acne, thus bringing relief from the pain so often felt by many an acne sufferer.
Although there are many benefits, on the flip side, this acid can take care of only mild cases of acne. For people who suffer from moderate to severe acne, this treatment might not prove to be much helpful. Moreover, it might actually take months for this acid to work and show its positive effects on the skin.
As mentioned above, acne is caused by a number of factors, so in order to get rid of it, one has to work at it both from within and without.
Apply the product in accordance with the instructions given on the pack, otherwise it can cause side effects such as irritation, burning sensation, dryness, and peeling or flaking of the skin. If you observe these symptoms, reduce the application. If the side effects are still visible, stop the treatment and start looking for a more suitable alternative.