What are the Different Salicylic Acid Uses?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2019
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Some of the various salicylic acid uses include treatment for acne, dandruff, and warts. Salicylic acid is also occasionally taken internally for the treatment of fever and as a pain reliever. It is also not unusual to find salicylic acid on ingredient lists for medicines designed to treat intestinal problems. Even though salicylic acid can be used internally, it is most popular for its topical uses. The acid is typically recognizable as an active ingredient in many acne-fighting products.

There are many different acne salicylic acid uses. The acid is useful for fighting acne, not only because it can help exfoliate the skin to clear out pores, but also because it can kill acne-causing bacteria living inside the pores. There are a great number of products designed to treat acne that contain salicylic acid, but not everyone can use them. Some people have a sensitivity to salicylic acid and might experience skin irritation and inflammation after they have applied it topically to their skin. People who have very sensitive skin may be better off avoiding acne products that contain salicylic acid in favor of products with gentler ingredients.


People who suffer from dandruff may also benefit from the many salicylic acid uses. The ingredient has proven effective for getting rid of itching and flaking of the scalp related to both dandruff and psoriasis. Many popular dandruff shampoos, as well as other medicated shampoos for various scalp conditions, contain salicylic acid as an active ingredient. Salicylic acid is helpful for removing flakes and dead, scaly skin from the scalp because it softens the scalp, which might make it easier to slough off the flakes. Most doctors advise against using shampoo containing salicylic acid on a daily basis and may recommend that patients stop using the shampoo once their flakes are under control to avoid scalp irritation.

Salicylic acid is also frequently used to treat warts. People who develop warts on their hands and fingers may be able to purchase adhesive pads containing a small percentage of salicylic acid. Over the course of several days, the acid can kill the cells within the wart, possibly making it easy to scrape off the skin after the adhesive pad is removed. Not everyone has success with salicylic acid for wart removal, but it may be a convenient, easy option to attempt before seeing a doctor to have warts either frozen or cut off.

It is not typically as widely known that many of the different salicylic acid uses involve internal use. The ingredient tends to be particularly helpful for reducing fever and inflammation as well as pain. Popular medicines for stomach ailments, such as those designed to treat acid indigestion and diarrhea, also often include salicylic acid. The addition of salicylic acid to these medicines may be useful because the acid can potentially stop the spread of bacteria throughout the intestines as well as reduce intestinal inflammation.


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