Salicylic acid is used to manage the uncomfortable symptoms of ichthyosis, but does it have any side-effects?
Salicylic acid is a peeling agent (a keratolytic) which causes shedding of the outer layer of skin; while it’s usually a very useful treatment for many people living with ichthyosis, sometimes creams containing salicylic acid can cause skin irritation or even serious allergic reaction.
Possible - though rare! - side-effects of topical salicylic acid:
- minor skin irritation, rash, or peeling
- changes in skin colour
- difficult breathing
- dryness and peeling of skin
- hives or itching
- redness of the skin
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- tightness in the throat
- unusually warm skin
You should stop using creams containing salicylic acid and get immediate emergency medical help if you experience: difficulty in breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat; vomiting or diarrhoea.
Salicylic acid should not be used on a child or teenager who has a fever, flu symptoms, or chickenpox.
Salicylates applied to the skin and absorbed into the bloodstream can cause Reye's syndrome, a serious and sometimes fatal condition in children.
What products do we recommend for people with ichthyosis?
Although the condition can’t be cured, a mild case can generally be managed with a careful skincare routine. Check with your doctor if you need more intensive treatment, but because ichthyosis is a condition characterised by dry skin, sufferers are usually encouraged to use rich emollients to soften any scaliness and keep skin supple and well-hydrated. Our moisturisers are made to be as gentle and natural as possible, so that skin is cared for rather than irritated.
For really dry, rough or cracked skin:
Skin Salvation balm with hemp, beeswax & calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
For general daily maintenance:
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter, hemp & olive (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Bath & Body Oil with hemp, lavender & chamomile (£12.99 for 200ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.