Salicylic Acid for Whiteheads & Large Pores


If you’re tired of those pesky whiteheads popping up on your skin and large, open pores, you’ve probably tried to a thousand different things to make your skin look better. Well, salicylic acid can help with the whiteheads, and blackheads too if you get those from time to time, but there’s no medical evidence that it helps to get rid of large pores. Still, salicylic acid is beneficial when used properly.

How It Works

Salicylic acid works on the skin by slowing the shedding of cells inside your hair follicles, which can stop up your pores and cause breakouts, according to Mayo Clinic. Salicylic acid may also work to break down whiteheads and get rid of them faster than other skin care products. Available in concentrations of 0.5 percent to 2 percent in over-the-counter medications, salicylic acid is a particularly effective treatment for whiteheads and clearing your pores.

Using Salicylic Acid

Once you’ve decided to give salicylic acid a shot, you’ve got to use it the right way for maximum benefit. When using salicylic acid, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use unless directed to use the product differently by a qualified doctor or dermatologist only. If you are using prescription-strength salicylic acid, your doctor will tell you how exactly to use the treatment. Even if you start to see benefits, don’t increase or change your routine unless your doctor says it’s okay. You might start to look like a ripe, red tomato if you do, since salicylic acid can be irritating to the skin.

Things to Avoid

When you’re using salicylic acid on your skin, you need to stay away from certain other products that could cause you some serious skin problems or discomfort. Those products include abrasive soaps, topical treatments that contain alcohol, or other topical medications for acne, including benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, sulfur, or tretinoin. Other products that also contain salicylic acid are definitely a no-no as well – using too much salicylic acid can really irritate your skin.


Salicylic acid can cause stinging and redness when used topically. If you’ve never use salicylic acid before, test a small amount in the crook of your elbow or behind your knee to make sure it won’t cause you problems. Increased exposure to the sun increases potential irritation, so make sure you use sunscreen or a moisturizer with sunscreen and reapply it often.

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