Slideshows Images Quizzes

Copyright © 2018 by RxList Inc. RxList does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

Definition of Salicylic acid

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Salicylic acid: A substance obtained from plants (white willow back and wintergreen leaves) and also synthesized which is versatile and possesses bacteriostatic, fungicidal, and keratolytic actions.

Salicylic acid is used as a food preservative and as an antiseptic in toothpaste. It is a peeling agent in ointments, creams, gels, and shampoos applied to reduce the scaling of the skin or scalp in psoriasis. It is the active ingredient in many skin products for the treatment of acne since it causes skin cells to slough off more readily, preventing them from clogging up the pores. Salicylic acid reacts with acetic acid to acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin.

Salicylic acid is also chemically known as orthohydroxybenzoic acid.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors