Salicylic Acid and Psoriasis: How It Works

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells, resulting in thick, scaly patches that may be itchy, painful, and inflamed. While there is no cure for psoriasis, several treatments can help manage its symptoms. One such treatment is salicylic acid, a common ingredient found in various skincare products. But what is the role of salicylic acid in addressing psoriasis, and how does it work in skincare? Let’s break it down. 

Understanding Psoriasis


Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to multiply rapidly. This excessive cell growth leads to the formation of plaques, which are thick, red patches covered with silver-white scales. These plaques can appear anywhere on the body but are commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.

Salicylic Acid and Its Benefits

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from the bark of the willow tree. It has been widely used in skincare for its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied topically, salicylic acid helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation, making it an effective treatment for various skin conditions, including psoriasis.

Exfoliation and Scaling:

Psoriasis causes an excessive buildup of skin cells on the surface, forming thick scales. Salicylic acid works by penetrating the outer layer of the skin and dissolving the bonds between the cells, facilitating the shedding of dead skin cells. This exfoliating action helps to reduce the thickness of plaques, allowing healthier skin to emerge.

Unclogging Pores:

In addition to its exfoliating properties, salicylic acid also acts as a powerful pore cleanser. Psoriasis can lead to the accumulation of dead skin cells within the hair follicles, causing blockages and potentially leading to further inflammation. By unclogging pores, salicylic acid helps to prevent the formation of new psoriasis lesions and reduces the risk of infection.

Anti-inflammatory Effects:

Psoriasis is associated with inflammation in the skin, which contributes to redness, itching, and discomfort. Salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and calm irritated skin. By reducing inflammation, salicylic acid provides relief from symptoms and supports the overall healing process.

Choosing the Right Products

When selecting skincare products containing salicylic acid for psoriasis, it is essential to consider a few factors. Firstly, the concentration of salicylic acid should be appropriate for the severity of your psoriasis. Lower concentrations (around 0.5% to 2%) are typically found in over-the-counter products, while a dermatologist may prescribe higher concentrations (up to 6%) for more severe cases.

Choosing products explicitly formulated for psoriasis or sensitive skin is also crucial. These products often contain additional moisturizing ingredients to counteract the drying effect of salicylic acid. Always read the product label and follow the instructions carefully to ensure safe and effective use.

Caution and Precautions

While salicylic acid is generally considered safe for most people, it may not suit everyone. Individuals with aspirin allergies, pregnant or nursing women, and those with open wounds or broken skin should avoid using salicylic acid products. Additionally, excessive or prolonged use of salicylic acid can cause skin dryness, redness, or irritation, so it's essential to use it as directed and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur.

We recommend


BHA Liquid Exfoliant 

Caprea’s Essential BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a fast absorbing 3 in 1 liquid that removes dead skin and blackheads thanks to its blend of green tea and salicylic acid. Gently apply using a reusable cotton pad over the entire face and neck after cleansing. Avoid lash lines and eyelids. Don’t rinse. 

Buy it here. 


SEE ALSO: What Natural Oils to use for Your Eyelashes



Featured image from Pixabay. 

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