Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, a form of phenolic acid and a monohydroxybenzoic acid. It is a crystal-like pale organic acid which is commonly used in organic synthesis and works like a plant hormone. It comes from the absorption of salicin. It is used in aspirin as the active metabolite also known as acetylsalicylic acid. This works alongside salicylic acid. It is better known for being used in anti-acne products and treatments. The salt in salicylic acid are acknowledged as salicylates.
The chemistry of salicylic acid
The formula for salicylic acid is C6H4COOH, the OH group is ortho to the carboxyl group. Also known as 2-hydroxybenzoic acid. It is quite poor at dissolving in water. Acetylsalicylic acid [aspirin] can be made by esterification of phenolic hydroxyl group of the salicylic acid.
Cosmetic and medicinal uses of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid has a lot of medicinal properties and is used like an anti-inflammatory drug. It is known to help reduce fever and relieve aches. Skin care products for psoriasis, dermatitis, warts, corns and calluses contain salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid works as a bacteriocide, comedolytic and keratolytic agent. It makes the cells of the epidermis shed more easily, opening pores that are clogged and then stopping pores getting clogged up again by shrinking the size of the pore. Using a pure version of salicylic acid can cause darkening of the skin [hyperpigmentation] for those with darker skin complexions.
Salicylic acid works in many different ways. Its anti-inflammatory effects are made by keeping the working of cyclooxygenase [COX] levels low. COX is an enzyme that is accountable for the making of pro-inflammatory mediators, like prostaglandins. Salicylic acid triggers adenosine monophosphate which plays a part in anti-cancer effects. It is also an active ingredient in gels that are used to remove verrucas.Salicylic acid prevents the oxidation of uridine-5-diphosphoglucose (UDPG) competitively with nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD) and noncompetitively with UDPG. It also competitively prevents the shifting of glucuronyl group of uridine-5-phosphoglucuronic acid (UDPGA) to the phenolic acceptor. The wound-healing retardation action of salicylates is perhaps due chiefly to its inhibitory action on mucopolysaccharide synthesis.
Salicylic acid is able to pierce and break down lipids and fats as a beta hydroxyl acid when used topically. This can cause it to leave chemical burns on the skin when used as a high concentrated solution When treating warts, the solution should only be used twice a day. Using it more could cause more side effects.
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