What is a chemical peel?


Quick Answer

A chemical peel is a skin treatment normally applied to the face, neck or hands that causes the top layer of skin to blister and peel off, according to WebMD. After this process, the skin is usually left looking and feeling much smoother and healthier.

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Full Answer

Chemical peels are often used by patients to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of scarring and sun damage, treat varying forms of acne, and reduce discoloration such as dark spots and freckles, states WebMD. Chemical peels can be applied to a patient's skin with the assistance of a dermatologist or nurse practitioner in a board certified physician's office. Chemical peels are not recommended for home use nor for self application.

The professional responsible for applying the peel first cleans the skin and then dabs the peel onto the skin carefully, explains WebMD. Many chemical peels contain acidic substances such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid and carbolic acid. This may cause a slight burning or tingling sensation, but it is very unlikely that this treatment can cause permanent damage to your skin. If the burning feeling is too uncomfortable, cold compresses are recommended. Some chemical peels may take a few days before the top layer of skin peels off to reveal a healthier, smoother layer of skin.

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