Salicylic acid helps treat acne by correcting the abnormal shedding of skin cells, unclogging pores and preventing the appearance of lesions, according to WebMD. In addition, salicylic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and serves as an effective exfoliant as it penetrates inside the hair follicle, as stated by Everyday Health.
Many acne products, such as lotions, pads and creams, contain salicylic acid. Although salicylic acid products are available in strengths from 0.5 to 5 percent, skin professionals recommend a 2 percent salicylic acid concentration for over-the-counter acne treatments, as reported by Everyday Health.
Salicylic acid does not have antibacterial effects and doesn't reduce the production of sebum, WebMD notes. Therefore, it's advisable to use salicylic acid continuously to achieve and maintain positive results.