Salicylic Acid

Information about salicylic acid and its use in treating psoriasis.

Salicylic acid is not, by itself, a treatment which will typically eliminate psoriasis. It is, instead, a commonly-used scale remover. It will dissolve the built-up dead skin on psoriasis plaques. It is extremely useful as an adjunct to other true antipsoriatic treatments, though, in that by getting rid of the dead skin, the other medications can get to the live, inflammed skin underneath more easily (this is especially important for UV treatments, as the scales block UV light).

Salicylic acid is also used as an antiseptic and disinfectant, which may help when psoriatic lesions have been infected by fungal or bacterial growths. These infections can inflame psoriasis, cause it to itch unbearably or even aggravate the disease to the point where other psoriasis medications will fail. Of course, if you suspect an infection in your plaques,see a doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment.

Typically, salicylic acid as used in psoriasis treatments is on the order of 3% concentrations. In some people, this can lead to skin irritation or even a worsening of the disease. Pansy and poplar bud contain salicylic acid naturally (around 0.3% for Pansy), but even in low strengths, irritation of the skin can still be a concern.

At the other end of the scale, wart removers such as Compound-W, contain salicyclic acid at strengths around 17%. I’ve tried using Compound-W on a stubborn plaque, myself. Don’t try it. I don’t have particularly sensitive skin, but Compound-W burned the normal skin near the one plaque I tried it on.

Please note that the combination of salicylic acid and sulphur is not considered by the United States’ FDA to be a treatment for psoriasis. It is, instead, a treatment for dandruff. Beware of anyone who sells a salicylic acid and sulphur treatment for psoriasis. Products which combine salicylic acid and sulphur and which are advertised for dandruff are not listed here.

Reviewed Treatments and Information

Unreviewed Treatments and Information