Disadvantages of glycolic peels include side effects such as skin irritation, discoloration, itching, redness and swelling. Glycolic peels are alpha hydroxy acids, which can worsen skin conditions in some cases, according to WebMD. Additionally, chemical peels carry with them the risk of infection or flare-ups of existing infections, explains Mayo Clinic.
Chemical peels using glycolic acid result in skin redness and peeling that may last up to several months, depending on the depth and duration of the peel. Although they rarely cause scarring, it is a possibility on the lower parts of the face, notes Mayo Clinic. Changes in skin color are common and can be permanent, especially in those with darker skin. Additionally, a flare-up of cold sores is possible if the individual has had a history of this condition prior to treatment.
Skin irritation and sensitivity are among the most common disadvantages of using glycolic peels. Concentrations of up to 10 percent may be safe if used according to directions. Medium to deeper peels above 10 percent should involve professional supervision. Unsupervised use of alpha hydroxy peels can cause severe burning, skin irritation or redness, and peels used for longer than the recommended duration may burn the skin, cautions WebMD.