The safety and efficacy of salicylic acid chemical peels in darker racial-ethnic groups

Dermatol Surg. 1999 Jan;25(1):18-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1524-4725.1999.08145.x.


Background: There is a dearth of published data regarding chemical peels in darker racial-ethnic groups.

Objective: The purpose of the present investigation was to assess the clinical efficacy and safety of a new superficial salicylic acid peel in individuals of skin types V and VI.

Methods: Twenty-five patients were included in this pilot investigation. Nine had acne vulgaris, 5 had post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, 6 had melasma, and 5 had rough, oily skin with enlarged pores. The patients were pre-treated for 2 weeks with hydroquinone 4% prior to undergoing a series of five salicylic acid chemical peels. The concentrations of salicylic acid were 20% and 30%. The peels were performed at 2 week intervals. RESULTS. Moderate to significant improvement was observed in 88% of the patients. Minimal to mild side effects occurred in 16%.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that superficial salicylic acid peels are both safe and efficacious for treatment of acne vulgaris, oily skin, textural changes, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients with skin types V and VI.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Adult
  • Black People*
  • Chemexfoliation*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy
  • Hyperpigmentation / pathology
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Keratolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Melanosis / drug therapy
  • Melanosis / pathology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Salicylic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Salicylic Acid / adverse effects
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Salicylic Acid