What is salicylic acid?

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Generic Name: Salicylic Acid Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is salicylic acid used for?

This medication is used on the skin to treat common skin and foot (plantar) warts. Salicylic acid helps cause the wart to gradually peel off. This medication is also used to help remove corns and calluses. This product should not be used on the face or on moles, birthmarks, warts with hair growing from them, or genital/anal warts.

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic. It belongs to the same class of drugs as aspirin (salicylates). It works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin and dissolving the substance that causes the skin cells to stick together. This makes it easier to shed the skin cells. Warts are caused by a virus. Salicylic acid does not affect the virus.

How should I take salicylic acid?

Use Salicylic acid liquid as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Soak the affected area in warm water for about 5 minutes. Remove any loosened skin by gently rubbing with a brush, washcloth, or emery board. Dry thoroughly. Using the brush applicator supplied with Salicylic acid liquid, apply Salicylic acid liquid to the entire wart surface. Be careful not to apply Salicylic acid liquid to the surrounding skin. If your doctor directs you to apply Salicylic acid liquid 2 times to the affected area, allow the first application to dry before applying the second application.
  • Unless your hands are being treated, be sure to wash your hands after each application.
  • If you miss a dose of Salicylic acid liquid, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Salicylic acid liquid.

How do I store salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store salicylic acid in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of salicylic acid that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush salicylic acid down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using salicylic acid?

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Young children may be at increased risk of unwanted effects because of increased absorption of salicylic acid through the skin. Also, young children may be more likely to get skin irritation from salicylic acid. Salicylic acid should not be applied to large areas of the body, used for long periods of time, or used under occlusive dressing (air-tight covering, such as kitchen plastic wrap) in children. Use of salicylic acid topical in children younger than 2 years of age is not recommended.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of salicylic acid topical in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related blood vessel disease, which may require caution in patients receiving salicylic acid topical.

Is it safe to take salicylic acid during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of salicylic acid?

If any of the following side effects occur while taking salicylic acid topical, check with your doctor immediately:

Less common or rare

  • skin irritation not present before use of this medicine (moderate or severe)
  • incidence not known
  • difficult breathing
  • dryness and peeling of skin
  • fainting
  • hives or itching
  • redness of the skin
  • swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • tightness in the throat
  • unusually warm skin

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking salicylic acid topical, get emergency help immediately:

Some salicylic acid topical side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common

  • skin irritation not present before use of this medicine (mild)
  • stinging

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Ketorolac

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Abciximab
  • Anagrelide
  • Apixaban
  • Ardeparin
  • Argatroban
  • Beta Glucan
  • Bivalirudin
  • Certoparin
  • Cilostazol
  • Citalopram
  • Clopidogrel
  • Clovoxamine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Dabigatran Etexilate
  • Dalteparin
  • Danaparoid
  • Desirudin
  • Dipyridamole
  • Duloxetine
  • Enoxaparin
  • Eptifibatide
  • Erlotinib
  • Escitalopram
  • Femoxetine
  • Feverfew
  • Flesinoxan
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fondaparinux
  • Ginkgo
  • Gossypol
  • Heparin
  • Lepirudin
  • Levomilnacipran
  • Meadowsweet
  • Methotrexate
  • Milnacipran
  • Nadroparin
  • Nefazodone
  • Parnaparin
  • Paroxetine
  • Pemetrexed
  • Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Pralatrexate
  • Prasugrel
  • Protein C
  • Reviparin
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Sibutramine
  • Tacrolimus
  • Ticlopidine
  • Tinzaparin
  • Tirofiban
  • Venlafaxine
  • Vilazodone
  • Vortioxetine
  • Zimeldine

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acebutolol
  • Acenocoumarol
  • Acetohexamide
  • Alacepril
  • Alprenolol
  • Amiloride
  • Amlodipine
  • Anisindione
  • Arotinolol
  • Atenolol
  • Azilsartan Medoxomil
  • Azosemide
  • Befunolol
  • Bemetizide
  • Benazepril
  • Bendroflumethiazide
  • Benzthiazide
  • Bepridil
  • Betaxolol
  • Bevantolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Bopindolol
  • Bucindolol
  • Bumetanide
  • Bupranolol
  • Buthiazide
  • Candesartan Cilexetil
  • Canrenoate
  • Captopril
  • Carteolol
  • Carvedilol
  • Celiprolol
  • Chlorothiazide
  • Chlorpropamide
  • Chlorthalidone
  • Cilazapril
  • Clopamide
  • Cyclopenthiazide
  • Delapril
  • Desvenlafaxine
  • Dicumarol
  • Dilevalol
  • Diltiazem
  • Enalaprilat
  • Enalapril Maleate
  • Eprosartan
  • Esmolol
  • Ethacrynic Acid
  • Felodipine
  • Flunarizine
  • Fosinopril
  • Furosemide
  • Gallopamil
  • Gliclazide
  • Glimepiride
  • Glipizide
  • Gliquidone
  • Glyburide
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Hydroflumethiazide
  • Imidapril
  • Indapamide
  • Irbesartan
  • Isradipine
  • Labetalol
  • Lacidipine
  • Landiolol
  • Levobunolol
  • Lidoflazine
  • Lisinopril
  • Losartan
  • Manidipine
  • Mepindolol
  • Methyclothiazide
  • Metipranolol
  • Metolazone
  • Metoprolol
  • Moexipril
  • Nadolol
  • Nebivolol
  • Nicardipine
  • Nifedipine
  • Nilvadipine
  • Nimodipine
  • Nipradilol
  • Nisoldipine
  • Nitrendipine
  • Olmesartan Medoxomil
  • Oxprenolol
  • Penbutolol
  • Pentopril
  • Perindopril
  • Phenindione
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Pindolol
  • Piretanide
  • Polythiazide
  • Pranidipine
  • Probenecid
  • Propranolol
  • Quinapril
  • Ramipril
  • Sotalol
  • Spirapril
  • Spironolactone
  • Talinolol
  • Tamarind
  • Tasosartan
  • Telmisartan
  • Temocapril
  • Tertatolol
  • Timolol
  • Tolazamide
  • Tolbutamide
  • Torsemide
  • Trandolapril
  • Triamterene
  • Trichlormethiazide
  • Valsartan
  • Verapamil
  • Warfarin
  • Xipamide
  • Zofenopril

Does food or alcohol interact with salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Blood vessel disease or
  • Diabetes—Use with caution. May cause severe redness or ulceration, especially on the hands or feet.
  • Inflammation, irritation, or infection of the skin—Use of this medicine may cause severe irritation if applied to inflamed, irritated, or infected area of the skin.
  • Influenza (flu) or
  • Varicella (chicken pox)—Should not be used in children and teenagers with the flu or chicken pox. There is a risk of Reye’s syndrome.
  • Kidney disease or
  • Liver disease—Using this medicine for a long time over large areas could result in unwanted effects.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of salicylic acid for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Acne

Salicylic acid topical 1% pad:

Cleanse affected area. Apply 2 to 3 times daily. If dryness occurs, reduce to every other or once a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatological Disorders

Salicylic acid topical 16.7% liquid:

Wash and dry area thoroughly. Apply enough to cover each wart 1 to 2 times daily.

Salicylic acid 3% topical soap:

Apply to affect areas at least twice weekly. Leave lather on scalp or skin for two minutes then rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Salicylic acid topical 6% cream:

Apply to affected area once daily. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area at night. Wash off in morning.

Salicylic acid topical 6% lotion:

Apply to affected area once daily. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area at night. Wash off in morning.

Salicylic acid topical 6% foam:

Apply to affected area once daily at bedtime. Hydrate area for 5 minutes prior to application if possible. Occlude the area after application. Wash off in morning.

What is the dose of salicylic acid for a child?

Salicylic acid topical 1% pad:
12 years or older: Cleanse affected area. Apply 2 to 3 times daily. If dryness occurs, reduce to every other or once a day.

How is salicylic acid available?

Salicylic acid is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Liquid
  • Foam
  • Ointment
  • Gel/Jelly
  • Solution
  • Cream
  • Pad
  • Paste
  • Shampoo
  • Dressing
  • Stick

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

Symptoms of overdose

  • Confusion
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • fast or deep breathing
  • headache (severe or continuing)
  • hearing loss
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • rapid breathing
  • ringing or buzzing in the ears (continuing)
  • severe drowsiness
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of salicylic acid, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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