A summary of the types of chemical peel treatments available today

This article shows the uses and disadvantages of these acid skin peels and procedures.

The ever-increasing popularity of the beauty industry has brought facial rejuvenation to the masses. From the surgical to non-surgical, many are opting to take years off their look using some tried and tested treatments. For those who opt for a non-surgical boost to their complexions and reduce fine lines, chemical peels are a viable option.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is found in the willow tree’s bark and is used as a key ingredient in many of the skincare products around today. It increases the rate at which the cells of the epidermis shed, which in turn unclogs the pores and neutralises the bacteria inside. As it also restricts the pores, it helps to prevent them from getting clogged again. The use of salicylic acid is becoming more common in anti-dandruff shampoos due to its natural effect on the skin.

Uses for Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid has proved useful in the treatment of:

  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Warts
  • Keratosis pilaris

Salicylic Acid Treatments and Products

  • Peels
  • Medicated treatment pads
  • Lotions
  • Creams
  • Cleansers
  • Toners

Possible Side Effects

Some people can become sensitive to salicylic acid, which can result in several side effects, including stomach pain, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and diarrhoea to name a few. If you are sensitive to aspirin, it is recommended that salicylic acid should be avoided as they both have similar compounds.

It is not advised to use salicylic acid during pregnancy as it can cause birth defects and complications.

Skin can be sensitive after salicylic acid products are used, and sunscreen should protect against ultraviolet damage.

Glycolic Acid

This is a natural chemical derived from fruits, which can be found in many skin care products. It is this natural chemical that helps kill Propionibacterium, the bacteria which cause acne. Glycolic acid can lighten skin pigmentation caused by sun damage and stimulate collagen in the skin, helping to make lines and wrinkles less visible.

Uses for Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid has proved useful in the treatment of

  • Wrinkles
  • Sun damage
  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Oily skin

Glycolic Acid Treatments and Products

  • Peels
  • Gels
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Cleansers

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha hydroxyl acids are derived from the sugars found in fruit and milk. They have been used as a skin rejuvenation treatment for centuries. These acids are used an effective exfoliant which can promote collagen growth. As a result, producing more even-toned skin and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.

Possible Side Effects

  • Increased sun sensitivity
  • Excessive redness
  • Swelling
  • Allergic reaction resulting in rash
  • Skin discolouration

TCA Peels

A TCA peel uses Trichloroacetic acid, which may help to remove superficial blemishes. It removes dead skin cells and promotes the regeneration of new cells.

TCA uses

  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Soothes the skin
  • Reduces scaring over time
  • Can be used as a long-term treatment for severe acne
  • It has been used as an alternative to tattoo removal
  • Studies have shown its effectiveness in the removal and prevention of cancerous lesions.

Possible Side Effects

  • Redness and soreness (temporary)
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Milia- superficial white bumps which can be removed using correct ointments after peel
  • Scarring- rare but has been reported. Steroid injections can be used to treat post peel scars.
  • Herpes simplex infection- can be prevented by administering antiviral treatments 2 days before the peel.

Jessners Solution

Jessners solution is a combination of Salicylic acid, Resorcinol, Lactic acid, and ethanol. It is a superficial peel that is sometimes used before a deeper peel. This solution removes the top layers of the skin and promotes collagen production.

Uses

  • Balances irregular skin tone
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Softens skin
  • Increases hydration
  • Acne treatment

Possible Side Effects

  • Increased sun sensitivity
  • Hyper pigmentation
  • Erythema

It is always important to consult your dermatologist or physician prior to any chemical peel. They will be able to advise which peel, if any, is the most suitable for you and your skin. Although chemical peels can offer dramatic results, it is important to remember the possible side effects and consider recovery time.

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