Salicylic acid peels versus Jessner's solution for acne vulgaris: a comparative study

Dermatol Surg. 2013 Feb;39(2):248-53. doi: 10.1111/dsu.12018. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


Background: Salicylic acid was recently formulated in a hydroethanolic vehicle at a concentration of 20% to 30%. Salicylic acid has strong comedolytic effects because of its lipophilic nature.

Objective: To compare the therapeutic efficacy and tolerability of salicylic acid peels with those of Jessner's solution peels in patients with acne vulgaris.

Methods: Thirteen patients (13 men; mean age 22.6, range 20-28) with facial acne were enrolled. Jessner's solution was applied to one side of each patient's face and 30% salicylic acid to the other in three sessions at 2-week intervals. A blinded investigator counted noninflammatory and inflammatory lesions before treatment and 2 weeks after each treatment.

Results: Inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesion counts decreased in proportion to the duration of treatment. Inflammatory acne lesion counts did not differ significantly between salicylic acid and Jessner's solution peels, although in terms of noninflammatory acne lesion counts, sites treated with salicylic acid showed significant improvement (p = .04), whereas those treated with Jessner's solution did not.

Conclusion: We found that 30% salicylic acid peels were effective for inflammatory acne and more effective than Jessner's solution peels for treating noninflammatory acne.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Chemexfoliation / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lactic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Resorcinols / therapeutic use*
  • Salicylates / therapeutic use*
  • Salicylic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drug Combinations
  • Jessner's solution
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Resorcinols
  • Salicylates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Ethanol
  • Salicylic Acid