After having a chemical peel, the patient should avoid scratching or picking at the skin and should also avoid exposure to sunlight and other harsh light. While the skin typically feels irritated with reddening and peeling after light to mild peels, stronger peels may result in swelling. In either case, the patient must not rub, scratch, pat, pick, wipe or otherwise touch the affected area.
Licensed esthetician Angela Palmer explains that facial peels use glycolic acid as a peeling agent to rapidly exfoliate the skin so that dead skin cells shed more effectively. Versions of either alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid are typically used and work in the same way. The process sometimes slightly stings or burns the skin, so patients may feel some discomfort. Most commonly, patients experience redness, flaking and peeling as side effects of the procedure. Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Eugene Nowak advises chemical peel patients to avoid exposure to the sun until after this redness is gone. Once the redness subsides, patients should wear sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat to protect the skin from the sun. Dr. Nowak notes that some patients may also have to avoid exposure to chlorinated water. Unless there are special circumstances, a patient should be able to resume normal activities immediately, with caution.