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Basics
Salicylic acid has been used for many years to treat skin disorders. It is similar in many ways to the alpha hydroxy acids, however it differs in the fact that it mixes with the lipids or fats that surround skin cells, allowing to interact more closely with the skin cells and the hair follicles.

How it works
The true mechanism of action of salicylic acid is unknown, however it is thought that it reduces the attachments between skin cells. In addition, salicylic acid in known to have anti-inflammatory effects that can help with redness and inflammatory pimples.

Types of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid can be found in many over the counter products. These include but are not limited to, products like Proactiv, Clearasil, and others.

Potential side effects
Salicylic acid is generally very well tolerated with only occassional irritation. Though rare, use of salicylic acid over large areas, or use in high concentrations can lead to absorption and systemic effects. However, this is not seen with concentrations that are readily available over the counter.

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