Health Guide
Drug Guide

Salicylic acid (Topical route)

Pronunciation:

sal-i-SIL-ik AS-id

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Antiacne

Pharmacologic

NSAID

Chemical

Salicylate, Non-Aspirin

Uses of This Medicine:

Salicylic acid topical is used to treat many skin disorders, such as acne, dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis of the skin and scalp, calluses, corns, common warts, and plantar warts, depending on the dosage form and strength of the preparation.

This medicine is available without a prescription. Some of these preparations are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:

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.

Children

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.

Older adults

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.

Breast-feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

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.

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.

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.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Use this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than recommended on the label, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of absorption through the skin and the chance of salicylic acid poisoning.

This medicine is for use only on the skin. Do not get any of it in your eyes, nose, or mouth . Rinse it off with water right away if it does get on these areas.

Before using an OTC acne product for the first time, apply a small amount to one or two small affected areas of the skin for 3 days. If no discomfort occurs, follow the directions on the drug facts label of the product.

If your doctor has ordered an occlusive dressing (airtight covering, such as kitchen plastic wrap) to be applied over this medicine, make sure you know how to apply it. Since an occlusive dressing will increase the amount of medicine absorbed through your skin and the possibility of salicylic acid poisoning, use it only as directed. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.

Keep this medicine away from the eyes and other mucous membranes, such as the mouth and inside of the nose. If you should accidentally get some in your eyes or on other mucous membranes, immediately flush them with water for 15 minutes.

To use the cream, lotion, or ointment:

To use the gel:

To use the pad:

To use the plaster for warts, corns, or calluses:

To use the shampoo:

To use the soap:

To use the topical solution:

To use the topical solution for warts, corns, or calluses:

Unless your hands are being treated, wash them immediately after applying this medicine to remove any medicine that may be on them.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if it become worse, check with your doctor.

When using salicylic acid, do not use any of the following preparations on the same affected area as this medicine, unless otherwise directed by your doctor:

To use any of the above preparations on the same affected area as salicylic acid may cause severe irritation of the skin.

This medicine may cause a serious condition called salicylate toxicity. This is more likely to occur especially in children, or if you have kidney disease or liver disease. Check with your doctor right away if you have nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of hearing, tinnitus, lethargy hyperpnea, diarrhea, and psychic disturbances.

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) acne products may cause rare and life-threatening allergic reactions. Check with your doctor right away if you have hives, itching, trouble breathing, swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue, tightness in the throat, or feeling faint while using these products.

Do not use an OTC acne product again if you have developed a serious allergic reaction from it.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

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

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

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

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Skin irritation not present before use of this medicine (mild)
stinging

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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