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Salicylic Acid (On the skin)

Treats skin problems, including acne, psoriasis, and warts.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

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… Read more
Brand names include
Acne Cleanser, Acnex, Acnomel Acne Mask, Advanced Acne Spot Treatment, Akurza, Aliclen, Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser, Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Cleansing Pads, Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer, Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser, Avidoxy DK, Avosil, Bensal HP, Betasal, Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Cleanser, Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Exfoliating Scrub, Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Moisturizer, Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment, Clean & Clear Advantage Oil Absorbing Cleanser, Clear Away Wart Removal System, Compound W, Compound W One-Step Wart Remover, Compound W Plus, Corn Removing, DHS Sal, Dermarest Psoriasis, Dr. Scholl's Clear Away One Step Plantar Wart Remover, Dr. Scholl's Cushlin Ultra Slim Callus Removers, Dr. Scholl's Cushlin Ultra Slim Corn Removers, Drytex, Duofilm, Duoforte 27, Duoplant, Durasal, Freezone, Freezone - One Step Callus Remover Pad, Freezone - One Step Corn Remover Pad, Fung-O, Gets-It Corn/Callus Remover, Gordofilm, Hydrisalic, Ionil, Ionil Plus, Keralyt, Keralyt Scalp, Lupicare, Mediplast, Mg217 Sal-Acid, Mosco Corn & Callus Remover, Neutrogena, Occlusal-HP, Off-Ezy, Oxy Balance, P & S, Palmer's Skin Success Acne Cleanser, Propa pH, Sal-Acid Plaster, Sal-Plant Gel, Salac, Salactic Film, Salacyn, Salex, Salitop, Salkera, Salvax, Seba-Clear, Stri-Dex, Thera-Sal, Therasoft Anti-Acne, Ti-Seb, Tinamed, Virasal, Wart-Off Maximum Strength, Zapzyt
Drug classes About this
Analgesic, Antiacne, Antiacne Keratolytic, Antipsoriatic, Antiseborrheic, Keratolytic
Combinations including this drug

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

5-Fluorouracil 0.5% and Salicylic Acid 10.0% (Actikerall) [Internet]

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, 15% to 25% of actinic keratosis (AK) lesions spontaneously resolve during a one-year period. However, AK lesions may develop into invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) if left untreated. The rate of progression from AK to SCC is unknown. Mathematical models derived from a study predicted that for an individual with an average of 7.7 AKs, the probability of developing an SCC at the same or nearby site within a 10-year period is approximately 10. The risk of malignant transformation is higher in patients who are immunocompromised. In Canada, 74,100 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) and 270 deaths due to these cancers were predicted for 2011.

Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of salicylic acid and cryotherapy for cutaneous warts

This project was commissioned in response to a Cochrane systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which found little evidence to suggest that cryotherapy was any more effective than salicylic acid (SA) for the treatment of warts. The aim of this study was to model the likely cost-effectiveness of these two commonly used treatments, and to explore whether commissioning an RCT comparing the two interventions was likely to be worthwhile. To do this, various data-gathering methods were used to inform an economic decision model, from which conclusions were drawn with regard to the cost-effectiveness of these and other commonly used wart treatments.

Treatments for molluscum contagiosum, a common viral skin infection in children

We reviewed the evidence for the effect of any treatment on the common viral skin infection molluscum contagiosum. We excluded people with a repressed immune system or sexually transmitted molluscum contagiosum.

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Summaries for consumers

What are the treatment options for warts?

Warts are usually harmless and generally go away on their own after a few weeks or months. But they can be bothersome and unattractive. They may also be painful, especially on the feet. Various treatments can help warts go away faster. Warts are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV), of which there are more than 100 different types. Warts are most common on your hands, feet, and face. They may also appear in the genital and anal area. This information does not cover the treatment of genital warts. Warts are particularly common in children and teenagers. They usually appear alone and often go away without treatment after a few weeks or months. So a lot of people decide not to have them treated and instead just wait until they disappear. But some people are unhappy and embarrassed about their warts, especially if they’re on a part of their body that others can easily see. And some have had a lot of warts for a long time. Many of them want an effective treatment. There are a number of different treatments that can improve the chances of getting rid of warts faster, but they do not always work. Warts on the soles of the feet are particularly hard to treat because they are sometimes pushed inward. No treatments have been proven to work here. Also, new warts may grow again after successful treatment because there might still be viruses in the skin cells. Warts are often treated with a salicylic acid solution or cryotherapy. These are also the best-studied treatments.

Treatments for molluscum contagiosum, a common viral skin infection in children

We reviewed the evidence for the effect of any treatment on the common viral skin infection molluscum contagiosum. We excluded people with a repressed immune system or sexually transmitted molluscum contagiosum.

Warts: Overview

Most people will have had warts at some point. They are contagious and can be very hard to get rid of. Children and teenagers are particularly likely to get them because they often use public showers or changing rooms, for instance after doing sports or at the swimming pool. How can you prevent warts from spreading, and how can you get rid of them?

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