Salicylic acid (On the skin)


Salicylic Acid (sal-i-SIL-ik AS-id)

Treats skin problems, such as acne, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis. Some forms of salicylic acid are used to remove warts.

Brand Name(s)

Salex, Duofilm, Mediplast, Compound W, Sal-Plant Gel, Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Kit, Lupicare II Psoriasis Skin, Lupicare Dandruff, Lupicare Psoriasis Scalp, Clean & Clear Advantage Oil Absorbing Cleanser, Clean and Clear Advantage Popped Pimple Relief, Inova 4/1 Acne Control Therapy, Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Cleansing Pads, Rite Aid Foot Care Corn Removers, Doctor's Choice Advanced Wound Care Corn & Callus Remover

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to salicylic acid or any of the ingredients listed on the product label.

How to Use This Medicine

Foam, Paste, Cream, Lotion, Pad, Ointment, Soap, Stick, Shampoo, Liquid, Gel/Jelly

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • If you are using this medicine without a prescription, follow the instructions on the medicine label.
  • This medicine is for use on the skin only. Do not get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Do not use it on skin areas that have cuts or scrapes. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using this medicine.
  • At first, you might need to use this medicine on only a small skin area or use it only once a day. This is to make sure it does not irritate your skin.
  • For lotion, cream, or gel:Apply a thin layer to the affected area. Rub it in gently.
  • If this medicine comes with an applicator or pad, use only that applicator or pad to apply the medicine. Some forms of this medicine can be applied directly with your fingers, and some forms can be applied with a cotton ball or washcloth. Follow the directions on the medicine package.
  • The gel or liquid might be flammable. Do not use it or store it near a flame, heater, or anything else hot.
  • It may take up to 6 weeks before your skin improves. It may take up to 12 weeks to remove a wart.

If a dose is missed:

  • It is usually not a problem if you miss one dose of this medicine.
  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, apply it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to apply the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not apply extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of the used medicine container and any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Do not use this medicine on a large skin area unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not use this medicine to treat a wart if you have diabetes or trouble with blood circulation.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.
  • If you use more than one product that contains salicylic acid, your skin is more likely to become too red, irritated, or dry. If this happens, you might need to use only one product.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Skin sores or ulcers.
  • Severe skin redness, peeling, or irritation.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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