Salicylic Acid

Pediatric Medication

This information from Lexicomp® explains what you need to know about this medication, including what it’s used for, how to take it, its side effects, and when to call your healthcare provider.

Brand Names: US

Bensal HP; Betasal [OTC]; CeraVe Psoriasis [OTC] [DSC]; Clear Away 1-Step Wart Remover [OTC]; Corn Remover One Step [OTC]; Corn Remover Ultra Thin [OTC] [DSC]; Exuviance Blemish Treatment [OTC] [DSC]; Gordofilm; Ionil [OTC]; Keralyt; Keralyt 5 [OTC] [DSC]; Keralyt Scalp; Keralyt [OTC]; Mediplast [OTC]; Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash [OTC]; One Step Callus Remover [OTC] [DSC]; P & S [OTC]; Psoriasin [OTC]; Sal-Plant [OTC]; SalAc [OTC]; Salactic Film [OTC] [DSC]; Salacyn [DSC]; Salex; Salicylic Acid Wart Remover; Salimez; Salimez Forte; Salisol Forte [DSC]; Salisol [DSC]; Salitech Forte [DSC]; Salitech [DSC]; Salvax; Scalpicin 2 in 1 [OTC] [DSC]; Stri-Dex Maximum Strength [OTC] [DSC]; Stri-Dex Sensitive Skin [OTC] [DSC]; Stridex Essential [OTC] [DSC]; UltraSal-ER; Virasal; Xalix

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat pimples (acne).
  • It is used to get rid of calluses, corns, and warts.
  • It is used to treat psoriasis.
  • It is used to control seborrheic dermatitis.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell the doctor BEFORE my child takes this drug?

For all uses of this drug:

  • If your child is allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell the doctor about the allergy and what signs your child had.

For calluses, corns, or warts:

  • If your child has any of these health problems: High blood sugar (diabetes) or poor blood flow.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.

Tell the doctor and pharmacist about all of your child’s drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe to give this drug with all of your child’s other drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug your child takes without checking with the doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while my child takes this drug?

  • Tell all of your child’s health care providers that your child is taking this drug. This includes your child’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Use care when using on a large part of the skin. Talk with the doctor.
  • Do not use this drug on birthmarks, moles, or warts with hair growth; or cervical, genital, or oral warts.
  • Do not put on open wounds, cuts, or irritated skin.
  • If your child uses this drug too often, the skin problem may become worse.
  • Use of other skin products while using this drug may cause more irritation.
  • Talk with your child’s doctor before you use other drugs or products on your child’s skin.
  • This drug may affect certain lab tests. Be sure the doctor and lab workers know your child uses this drug.
  • Some of these drugs may catch on fire. Do not use near an open flame or while smoking.
  • This drug may cause harm if swallowed. If this drug is swallowed, call a doctor or poison control center right away.
  • Do not give to children and teenagers who have or are getting better from flu signs, chickenpox, or other viral infections due to the chance of Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome causes very bad problems to the brain and liver.
  • Certain acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can rarely cause very bad and sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions or very bad irritation. Before first use, you may need to follow certain steps to make sure your child does not have an allergic reaction. Put on this drug as you were told by the doctor or read the package label. Talk with the doctor.
  • Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.
  • Different brands of this drug may be for use in different ages of children. Talk with the doctor before giving this drug to a child.

If your child is pregnant or breast-feeding a baby:

  • Talk with the doctor if your child is pregnant, becomes pregnant, or is breast-feeding a baby. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks to your child and the baby.

What are some side effects that I need to call my child’s doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your child’s doctor or get medical help right away if your child has any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Mood changes.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Ringing in the ears, hearing loss, or any other changes in hearing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Diarrhea.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your child’s doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother your child or do not go away:

  • Skin irritation.
  • Dry skin.
  • Burning.
  • Stinging.
  • Peeling.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your child’s doctor. Call your child’s doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best given?

Give this drug as ordered by your child’s doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

For all uses of this drug:

  • Do not give by mouth. Use on your child’s skin only. Keep out of your child’s mouth, nose, and eyes (may burn).
  • Make sure your child does not breathe in the vapors.
  • If this drug gets in the eyes, rinse with cool water.
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Clean affected part before use. Make sure to dry well.


  • Prime pump before first use.
  • Some of these drugs need to be shaken before use. Be sure you know if this product needs to be shaken before using it.
  • Put foam on affected part and rub in gently.

For pimples (acne):

Cream, gel, liquid, or lotion:

  • Put a thin layer on the affected part and work into a lather and rinse.
  • Some of these drugs need to be shaken before use. Be sure you know if this product needs to be shaken before using it.


  • Use pad to put on a thin layer of salicylic acid to affected part.
  • Do not leave pad on skin.

For calluses, corns, or warts:

  • You may soak the affected part for 5 minutes.
  • You may cover with a thin dressing if told to do so by the doctor.

Gel and liquid:

  • Put on affected skin and let dry.

Cream, lotion:

  • Put a thin layer on the affected skin and rub in gently.

For psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis:

Cream, gel, liquid, lotion, and ointment:

  • Put a thin layer on the affected skin and rub in gently.
  • If the product is for use on the scalp, follow how to use as you have been told or read the package insert.


  • Sometimes this drug is put onto wet hair. Sometimes it needs to be put onto dry hair. Be sure you know how to use this drug. If you are not sure, talk with the doctor or pharmacist.
  • Repeat treatment as you have been told by the doctor.

Shampoo with gel kit:

  • To use shampoo as a scalp treatment, do not wet hair. Put on affected areas using the applicator. Leave on as you have been told. Rinse fully with water. If wanted, you may shampoo the hair with a non-medicated shampoo.
  • To use gel on the scalp, put on affected areas using the applicator. Leave on as you have been told. Wash off with medicated shampoo or warm water.
  • To use gel on skin, use at bedtime. Soak the area for at least 5 minutes before using this drug. Put on a thin layer and rub in gently. Cover with a dressing as told. Wash off in the morning.

What do I do if my child misses a dose?

  • Put on a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your child’s next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your child’s normal time.
  • Do not put on 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

All products:

  • Store at room temperature. Do not freeze.
  • Protect from heat or open flame.
  • Keep lid tightly closed.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.


  • Store upright with the cap on.
  • Do not puncture.

General drug facts

  • If your child’s symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your child’s doctor.
  • Do not share your child’s drug with others and do not give anyone else’s drug to your child.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your child’s doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Last Reviewed Date



© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.

Last Updated