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What is salicylic acid?

  • acne
  • calluses
  • corns
  • dandruff
  • psoriasis
  • uneven skin tone
  • warts
  • wrinkles

What salicylic acid concentration is OK for psoriasis?


Price guide

  • $ = less than $15
  • $$ = $15-$20
  • $$$ = over $20

CeraVe Psoriasis Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Salicylic acid: 2% concentration
  • Vegan: No
  • Fragrance: None
lactic acidglycerin


  • It won’t dry out the skin, a common side effect of using products with salicylic acid.
  • Most reviewers say it improves the appearance of their psoriasis.
  • It’s fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.


  • It contains lactic acid, which can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
  • Some users noted the watery consistency makes it hard to use.

Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment

  • Price: $$$
  • Salicylic acid: 9% concentration
  • Vegan: No
  • Fragrance: None
facial psoriasis


  • The high concentration of salicylic acid makes this treatment more powerful than many others.
  • Reviewers say it works quickly and doesn’t cause their skin to dry out.
  • This cruelty-free product is formulated for sensitive skin, without fragrances or parabens.

MG217 Medicated Moisturizing Psoriasis Cream

  • Price: $
  • Salicylic acid: 3% concentration
  • Vegan: No
  • Fragrance: None


  • This product is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation, demonstrating it was created or intended to be non-irritating.
  • Reviewers said that when applied regularly, it works to reduce the size and appearance of psoriasis plaques.
  • At less than $10, it’s an affordable option.

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin

  • Price: $$
  • Salicylic acid: 3% concentration
  • Vegan: No
  • Fragrance: None


  • Users rave about its effects on bumpy skin.
  • Reviewers say it’s good value for the price and quantity.
  • It’s a great choice as a daily moisturizer for those with sensitive skin.

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Salicylic acid: 2% concentration
  • Vegan: No
  • Fragrance: Citrus, lavender, orange, and lemon


  • Users say this gentle cleanser can provide some alleviation for common facial issues, such as uneven skin tone and clogged pores.
  • The cleanser features a mild, floral scent derived from plant extracts.
  • It’s suitable for all skin types.

ProductPriceTypeKey Ingredients
CeraVe Psoriasis Cleanser$$body wash2% salicylic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, glycerin, urea, shea butter
Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment$$$facial cream9% salicylic acid, boerhavia diffusa root, avena sativa kernal, sea whip
MG217 Medicated Moisturizing Psoriasis Cream$cream3% salicylic acid, aloe, vitamin E, avocado oil, shea butter, provitamin B5
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin$$lotion3% salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin D, ceramides
SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser$$$facial cleanser2% salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, malic acid, jojoba oil

  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • hearing problems
  • light-headedness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rapid breathing
  • tinnitus
  • weakness and fatigue
2015 literature review

other topical treatments
  • Anthralin. This tar product has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces scales. It must be washed off after it is applied. Using salicylic acid in combination with anthralin is more effective than using anthralin alone.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors. Also known as immunomodulators, calcineurin inhibitors reduce inflammation and plaque growth. They can be used alongside salicylic acid.
  • Coal tar. Topical coal tar may work to relieve psoriasis by suppressing the synthesis of DNA. It can be used alongside salicylic acid.
  • Corticosteroids. Mild-to-moderate strength topical corticosteroids help to reduce and prevent symptoms of psoriasis. They are commonly used alongside salicylic acid, which improves their effectiveness.
  • Moisturizers and emollients. Thick moisturizing creams and ointments help to lock in moisture, ensuring that the outer layer of the skin stays hydrated. They can be used alongside salicylic acid.
  • Retinoids. Retinoids are synthetic versions of vitamin A found in a variety of skin care products. They may help with psoriasis by slowing skin cell growth and reducing inflammation.
  • Vitamin D analogs. These synthetic versions of vitamin D reduce skin cell proliferation. Calcipotriol, a vitamin D analog, should not be used in combination with salicylic acid.

Are there other acids that work for psoriasis?

Lactic acid, a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), may also be helpful in the treatment of psoriasis. It is less potent than salicylic acid but may be gentler on the skin.

What does salicylic acid do for psoriasis?

Do you need a prescription to use salicylic acid for psoriasis?

Does salicylic acid work for scalp psoriasis?

National Psoriasis Foundation

Is coal tar or salicylic acid better for psoriasis?

Coal tar