Glycolic-salicylic acid serum safe, effective

May 28, 2020, 9:03am

The authors of a recently published commentary report they’ve developed a glycolic and salicylic acid combination serum they say could disrupt traditional use of topical benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics to treat acne.

The authors of a recently published commentary report they’ve developed a glycolic and salicylic acid combination serum they say could disrupt traditional use of topical benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics to treat acne.

RELATED: Sebaceous gland destruction a viable strategy to treat acne

“Many companies capitalized on treatable skin conditions by providing expensive prescription medications or high-end over-the-counter cosmetics. However, patients have become more apprehensive toward these medications in lieu of their often-detrimental side effect profile and reactivity with sensitive skin,” according to the paper in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.1

David Wiegmann, M.D., William Beaumont Hospital-Royal Oak, Royal Oak, Mich. and Lori Haddad, D.O., dermatologist, Birmingham, Mich., wrote that the “wake-up” serum is made of glycolic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid extracted from sugar cane) and salicylic acid (an exfoliant made from a complex carbohydrate found in willow bark). Glycolic acid dissolves sebum and other substances that bind dead tissue on the skin’s top layer and creates gentle exfoliation. Salicylic acid also gently exfoliates without rupturing pores or disrupting subcutaneous vasculature.

Researchers have reported positive acne treatment outcomes with combining glycolic acid and salicylic acid in a solution for a superficial chemical peel. In one study published October 2018 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology,2 authors compared buffered 50% glycolic acid (pH 3.0) + 0.5% salicylic acid solution to Jessner’s solution in patients with acne vulgaris.

They found in the split face study of 20 that chemical peeling using the combination solution could be as effective and convenient as the conventional Jessner’s solution peel for treating acne vulgaris. The glycolic-salicylic acid peel might also cause fewer adverse events, they wrote.

Authors of the newer paper on the topical serum performed a prospective study. They selected 66 patients ages 17 to 46 years with mild-to-moderate inf lammatory and cystic acne, rosacea, folliculitis and keratosis pilaris. They instructed the patients to apply the serum nightly for two weeks. Those patients, they wrote, agreed to stop using all other treatments for their skin conditions.

At their two-week follow-up appointments, patients filled out a questionnaire reporting the skin changes they noted with treatment.

RELATED: Pipeline treatments show promise for acne patients

The authors found that more than 90% reported decreased comedonal acne and cystic acne; about 80% reported decreased oil production; and about 70% noted fading hyperpigmentation. Nearly 80% said their skin tone improved; more than 90% reported improved skin texture; and about 90% noted an overall improvement in their acne.

Findings from their physical examinations were similar to what patients reported, according to the paper.

One patient stopped using the serum after one week because of itchiness, according to the paper.

Acne medications with benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics have dominated acne treatments, according to the authors. But both come with side effects. For example, benzoyl peroxide can cause hypopigmentation and isn’t safe for darker skin types.

Today’s patients want a more natural, safer approach for treating their skin. Glycolic and salicylic acids are well-known peeling agents used to treat melasma and acne and work synergistically in the topical serum, according to the authors.

“In addition, it is safe in all ethnicities, all ages, male and female and safe during pregnancy. The formula is ‘organic’ and is allergy-free, dyefree, ethanolamine-free, paraben-free, propylene glycol-free, and sulfate-free,” they wrote. “We recommend the use of the serum to patients with mild-to-moderate inflammatory and cystic acne, melasma, oily skin types, keratosis pilaris, seborrhea dermatitis, pseudo-folliculitis barbae, folliculitis, and rosacea.”

Disclosures:

The authors developed the serum studied.

References:

1. Wiegmann, D, Haddad, L. Two is better than one: The combined effects of gly-colic acid and salicylic acid on acne-related disorders. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020; 00: 1– 3.2  

2. In jae J, Dong ju H, Dong hyun K, Yoon MS, Lee HJ. Comparative study of buffered 50% glycolic acid (pH 3.0) + 0.5% salicylic acid solution vs Jessner's solution in patients with acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(5):797- 8 01.