An acid derived from a family of drugs known as the salicylates, salicylic acid is a keratinolytic. This means that it is great at breaking up keratin – a protein which is abundant in dry, flaky, outer skin cells.
In addition, salicylates work to reduce inflammation by blocking the action of cyclo-oxygenase-1 (COX-1), an enzyme which causes inflammation via the liberation of prostaglandins.
Because of these very useful properties, salicylic acid is great in the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions and those conditions where the skin is thick and flaky e.g. psoriasis, acne and some dermatoses.
In the treatment of acne, salicylic acid helps to loosen, hardened, flaky skin and slow the turnover of cells inside follicles. This enables greater penetration of other products and reduces follicle plugging. Thus making the skin less hospitable to bacteria while concurrently reducing the inflammatory response of acne!
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