Topical delivery of salicylates

Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2022 May;12(5):981-1001. doi: 10.1007/s13346-021-00988-5. Epub 2021 Apr 28.


Salicylates have a long history of use for pain relief. Salicylic acid and methyl salicylate are among the widely used topical salicylates namely for keratolytic and anti-inflammatory actions, respectively. The current review summarises both passive and active strategies, including emerging technologies employed to enhance skin permeation of these two salicylate compounds. The formulation design of topical salicylic acid targets the drug retention in and on the skin based on the different indications including keratolytic, antibacterial and photoprotective actions, while the investigations of topical delivery strategies for methyl salicylate are limited. The pharmacokinetics and metabolisms of both salicylate compounds are discussed. The current overview and future perspectives of the topical delivery strategies are also highlighted for translational considerations of formulation designs.

Keywords: Formulation; Salicylates; Skin; Skin permeation; Topical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Keratolytic Agents*
  • Salicylic Acid*
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Salicylic Acid