By using this site you agree to the use of cookies to propose services and offers tailored to your centres of interest.

For more information and cookie configuration
My account  |   Newsletter Subscription  |   Contact us  |  
Principal indications: spots, skin blemishes
Bibliographical summary
  • Molecule 100% pure obtained by biosynthesis

Salicylic acid is naturally synthesized by certain plants (like Meadowsweet and White Willow). It is found particularly in fruits, in the esterified form of methyl salicylate. The ortho isomer of salicylic acid is the only pharmacologically active constituent. To obtain it in large quantities with a guarantee of optimal purity, the most common method used today is chemical synthesis. This molecule is not found naturally in the body but its medicinal properties have been known for a long time, especially for its action against fever and pain. It was extracted principally from white willow, salix alba in Latin, from which this molecule derives its name.
In combating fever, salicylic acid has now been supplanted by other, more effective medicines like aspirin (which is a derivative of it) and paracetamol. But it continues to be the most common metabolite circulating in the blood and salicylemia is used to assess its soothing action (analgesic and anti-inflammatory).
Salicylic acid is universally used in dermatology for its keratolytic action, the power of which depends on the percentage at which it is used. The indications are manifold: treatment of the squamous stage of psoriasis and ichthyosis, exfoliation in the correction of heliosis (wrinkles, pigmented spots), treatment of acne as a comedolytic agent, treatment of more extensive keratolytic conditions like palmoplantar keratodermia and mechanical hyperkeratosis (corns, callosities, soft corns) and, finally: treatment of hyperkeratotic verrucas and, in particular, very high percentage plantar verrucas.



The thickening of the corneous layer is caused by two, often combined, processes: an increase in corneocyte production (proliferation) and a deficit in normal desquamation (retention).

Keratolytic agents have no effect on proliferation and act only on the elimination of the corneous layer, generally by reducing corneocyte cohesion, inducing the shedding of epidermal cells [1]. It is now accepted that the exfoliant action of Salicylic Acid is dependent on a decementation action (dissolution of the intercellular cement) and the inhibition of the activity of sulphotransferase cholesterol.

Salicylic acid also helps to reduce the pH of the corneous layer, thus enhancing skin moisturization and promoting its keratolytic activity [2].

The plasminogen activators (PA) and their inhibitors (PAI) play a role in the epidermal differentiation process. The normal desquamation of corneocytes from the skin's surface is thought to be partially regulated by the activity of PA type (tPA) and PAI2 tissue.
The effects of salicylic acid have been assessed by comparing the DmRNA levels of PA and PAI in normal skin, in corns and corns treated with salicylic acid. The results show that a poor tPA/PAI balance induces hyperkeratosis and suggest that the keratolytic action of salicylic acid is related in part to its ability to stimulate the desquamation processes mediated by the proteinases [3]. Indeed, treatment with salicylic acid induces an increase in tPA and a reduction in PAI2, thus stimulating the desquamation process.

The effect of salicylic acid depends on its concentration [1].

At low concentrations (<0.3%), salicylic acid has a bacteriostatic, photo-protective, antipruriginous and astringent action.

Salicylic acid induces significant desquamation at a concentration of 2% [4]. At a concentration of 3%, salicylic acid has proven itself capable of reducing epithelial hyperplasia by 15% with an effectiveness equal to a 0.1% hydrocortisone solution [1]. At higher concentrations, the keratolytic effect becomes predominant.

The concentrations of salicylic acid indicated for corn and callus treatment are from 5 to 17% in a colloid formulation and from 15 to 50% in plaster form [2]. In cases of xerosis, the salicylic acid concentrations indicated are 5% in a formulation composed of Vaseline [5]. In the case of hyperkeratotic xerosis, treatment with 6% salicylic acid gives very good results [6].



Chemically, this motif provides the base for a broad and interesting pharmacopoeia. The presence of a β-hydroxyl of the acid function gives it complexation properties with metals and a great many not totally specific interactions with biological structures, but significant and still interesting in the modern pharmacopoeia.
Long considered a direct "dissolving" action on corneous structures, it would appear that the molecule induces modifications of protease regulation further up the line.
In fact, the properties that catch the attention can be grouped into three concentration levels: from 0.1 to 0.5% bacteriostatic, sanitizing, astringent and antipruriginous, from 0.5 to 5%, keratolytic, above this the destabilizing effect on structures leads to necrotic burns (effects on verrucas, for example, of 15 to 20%). These fields are given as markers and depend on the formulation method.
Solutions of salicylic acid have long been used for acne in order to unblock the pilosebaceous follicles and cleanse the skin in hydroalcoholic formulations, sometimes with the addition of other phenolic antiseptics (Resorcinol, Veratrol). However, these means are now outdated and are used mainly to "smooth" the skin.
In addition, they assist the passage of other actives by thinning the stratum corneum.
These epidermal renewal properties make it interesting on some photo-aged skins following the example of AHAs.
On very keratinized lesions (psoriasis), it is used with mineral oil-based galenic concealers, for example.
In the majority of cases, it is a complementary active, like for flaky scalps, for example.
The active is not dangerous at reasonable concentrations and systemic impairments are zero in view of its well known toxicity.
Conversely, care should be taken to prevent burns if applications are too frequent at high concentrations with local accumulation (occlusion) (> a few %).
The allergies attributed to salicylates should contraindicate its use. These allergies generally "cross" with the majority of NSAIDs (derivative family).



The body of publications and scientific studies, customary usages of this active and our expert's opinion concur in using Salicylic Acid 300 pure Active at the dose of 300 mg per bottle.



[1] L’acide salicylique comme agent coricide. Béani JC. Ann. Dermatol Venereol. 129(6-7) : 933-935. 2002.

[2] The rôle of salicylic acid in the treatment of Psioriasis. Lebwohl M. International Journal of Dermatology. 38(1): 16-24. 1999.

[3] The role of tissue-type plasminogen activator in salicylic acid-induced sloughing of human corn tissue. Heda GD and Roberts LK. Journal of the american podiatric medical association. Vol. 98, N°5, 345-352, 2008.

[4] Cutaneous bioassay of salicylic acid as a keratolytic. Bashir SJ et al. Int J Pharm. 292(1-2):187-94. 2005.

[5] La xerose. Mazereeuw J. and Bonafé JL. Annal Dermatol Venereol. 129:137-142. 2002.

[6] Hyperkeratosis of the heels: treatment with salicylic acid in a novel delivery system. Bikowski J. Skinmed. 3(6):350-1. 2004.

This information is given for informative purposes. In no event does it constitute medical information, nor engage our liability. These documents may be copied and reproduced exclusively for informative purposes for personal and private use. All and any use of copies or reproductions for other purposes is expressly forbidden and shall engage the user's liability under Article L 122-3 of the Intellectual Property Code.