How Does Salicylic Acid Work as Treatment for Psoriasis

Salicylic acid is an organic compound that is widely used for treating pimples or acne, dandruff, dermatitis and other skin conditions like warts, corns and even psoriasis. It works as an agent that aids in the shredding of the epidermis in a more rapid manner. In helping psoriasis, this treatment works to soften the thick and dry patches that manifests with the condition, making it possible for the skin to peel off, thus giving way to clearer skin pores.

What Is In Salicylic Acid?

This treatment contains beta hydroxide, which is actually derived from the bark of a willow tree. Salicyclic acid is actually an active ingredient in many topical creams, ointments and gels that are used to treat many kinds of skin conditions. The acid neutralizes the bacteria that trigger the development of the skin irritation. It works like an exfoliating agent that allows for new, healthier skin to grow.

Best Used With Other Treatment Methods

Salicylic acid, however, is not a permanent and complete solution as it only “cleanses” the patches. There is still a chance for the psoriasis breakouts to re-develop, even after applying salicyclic acid and even it the condition seems to have cleared. But having this in the medicine cabinet would be handy for managing the condition.

Many experts suggest that it would be best to use this treatment alongside other psoriasis medication and methods, as salicylic acid serves to aid in the process of healing:

  • Using salicylic acid with a coal tar soap, for instance, can help the soap penetrate deeper on to the skin and reach the source of inflammation or dissolve psoriasis plaque properly.
  • Used in conjunction with mild moisturizers, the acid will influence its penetration way below the epidermis,  thus making the skin more supple and soft as it heals.
  • In severe cases where laser therapy may be involved with psoriasis treatment, salicylic acid may be first used to clean and prepare the area for the procedure.
  • It also works as a disinfectant, especially with really bad psoriasis breakouts marked by lesions, redness and pus. When this happens though, the breakouts may become aggravated at first. But this is normal, as it fights off the bacteria.


Products that have salicylic acid in it, but also contain sulphur ingredients, are not effective against the treatment of psoriasis of the skin. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this is good for dandruff treatment only, or what is known as psoriasis of the scalp. The constant use of this for such a condition, however, can lead to temporary hair loss, as the acid could weaken the hair shaft and roots.

The FDA also warns use of salicylic acid among young children with psoriasis, especially when used more than the recommended dosage. It shouldn’t also be ingested, as this is purely a topical treatment.

Apply in small and controlled dosages only because in huge amounts, this acid can be poisonous. If any reaction causes discomfort, rather than relieve the psoriasis condition, it would be better to stop with the treatment and then seek the advise of the doctor.

You can read more information on the possible effects of using salicylic acid in this official FDA statement.

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