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What is an acne peel?

Acne peels contain a liquid solution of either mandelic, glycolic, or salicylic acid that causes cell turnover to improve skin texture and pigmentation. Peels also release trapped oils that lay beneath the skin (i.e. blackheads or whiteheads) through the temporary destruction of the outer layer of skin. This treatment is primarily used for tween or teen acne patients who have moderate to severe cases, or significant pigmentary changes resulting from acne.

Acne peels are done by a dermatologist in-clinic and are different from at-home, over-the-counter skincare treatments. At-home acne treatments use more gentle concentrations of acid to exfoliate the skin and may take longer to see results. Professional, medical-grade acne peels typically use higher liquid solution strengths matched to each patient’s skin type and condition and are administered in a controlled setting. Acne peels administered by a dermatologist also are formulated to penetrate deeper into the skin, going further to treat acne than at-home skin care.

Why is an acne peel performed?

Based on the condition, an acne peel helps patients who are being seen for:

  • Acne
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Bumps
  • Hyperpigmentation

Depending on your child’s condition, we typically recommend two to three treatments to see the best results.

What to expect from an acne peel?

Before your appointment, avoid products containing retinoids (Adapalene/Differin, Tretinoin/Retin-A), alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), beta hydroxyl acids (BHAs), or benzoyl peroxide for a few days as these can irritate the skin.

On the day of your peel, a liquid solution is applied to the skin on your tween or teen’s face, chest, or back. The application takes three to five minutes before the solution is thoroughly rinsed off.

There may be some mild discomfort during the procedure, depending on the solution strength and type, including:

  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Itching

A fan is used to ease discomfort during the procedure, and an ice pack is applied after the treatment. Potential benefits of an acne peel include smoothing the skin’s texture, drying up acne bumps, and fading hyperpigmentation.

What happens after the acne peel?

Response to chemical peels vary based on the type of peel applied to the skin. In many cases, the skin may appear red or sunburned for several days after the treatment.

It then may start to “peel,” appearing as small flakes or sheets of skin. Flaking skin can last anywhere from several days to a week. While it’s tempting to pick at the skin as it flakes, it is very important to avoid peeling or picking.

While peels may improve acne and dark spots, they unfortunately do not cure acne. They are best used in combination with medications prescribed by your dermatologist.

Our approach to acne peels

Since acne treatment is not a one-size-fits-all experience, we know that every child’s treatment will be unique to them. For every acne peel, we take your child’s specific acne severity and skin sensitivities into the consideration of selecting the acid type and solution strength to provide the best results.

Acne Peel | Programs & Services