How does topical salicylic acid treat psoriasis?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Topical salicylic acid (for example, Dermarest, Keralyt, or Salex) is a drug that is applied directly to the skin. It is usually used along with other topical medicines. It causes a shedding of the outer layer of skin. This helps to soften and lift the psoriasis scales. It also softens the plaques. Removing the scales makes it easier for other skin medications to be absorbed, and this promotes healing.

Topical salicylic acid is available over the counter and by prescription. Formulations include shampoos, creams, gels, ointments, liquids, pads or wipes, and patches that can be applied to the skin or scalp. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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