Salicylic Acid

Topical Keratolytic
Compare To Other Treatments

The following side effects are expected to occur in the first few weeks of treatment, and resolve with continued use of adapalene / benzoyl peroxide. Contact your doctor if these symptoms are severe and/or do not go away after:

How Common (based on clinical studies)

Irritation of the skinUp to 32% of all users
Tingling or stinging sensation in the areaUp to 17% of all users
Skin drynessUp to 11% of all users
Skin peeling or scalingUp to 4% of all users
Redness and/or warmth over the areaUp to 4% of all users
ItchingUp to 2% of all users

Salicylic acid may cause some side effects that are serious. If you experience any of the following, get in touch with your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Changes in hearing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Headache 
  • Confusion or dizziness 
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Increased rate of breathing

If you experience any of the following side effects, stop using salicylic acid immediately and contact your doctor or get emergency medical care right away:

  • A sudden appearance of swelling and rash (known as hives)
  • Swelling of the eyes, lips, tongue, or entire face
  • Severe itching
  • Trouble with breathing
  • Feeling faint

Salicylic acid may also cause other side effects that are not mentioned here. Contact your doctor if you experience any other troublesome symptoms when using salicylic acid. 

  1. UpToDate. Topical salicylic acid: drug information. Available from: Cited 14 March 2017.
  2. Moy RL, Levenson C, So JJ, and Rock JA. Single-center, open-label study of a proprietary topical 0.5% salicylic acid-based treatment regimen containing sandalwood oil in adolescents and adults with mild to moderate acne. J Drugs Dermatol. 11(12), 1403-8 (2012).