Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a health care professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Chemical peel

A chemical peel is the process of exfoliation by applying a chemical solution to the skin that causes the outer layer to shed, leading to regeneration of new, healthier looking skin. These peels can treat various skin conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, acne or acne scarring, hyper-pigmentation, melasma, and much more. So, why are these treatments commonly overlooked?

Chemical peels are often associated with the fear of harmful chemicals being used near, or on the body. Many people assume that these peels may contain damaging chemicals. Most peels are made up of botanical ingredients. These ingredients include (but are not limited to) salicylic acid, malic acid, and glycolic acid. Each different chemical targets a different skin condition.

Salicylic acid is derived from the willow tree, and is found in plenty of over the counter moisturizers, acne spot treatments, etc. It is used to treat acne and the inflammation surrounding acne (post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation).

In a chemical peel treatment, salicylic acid kills acne-causing bacteria, and the deeper level of exfoliation that a chemical peel offers will smooth out the rough and textured skin left behind.

Malic acid is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, apple among them. Malic acid is packed full of antioxidants and targets anti-aging of the skin. When used for deeper exfoliation, it stimulates collagen production and reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and firms the skin.

Glycolic acid is extracted from cane sugar, but can be made synthetically. Glycolic acid is used to treat acne, blackheads, shrink pore size, reduce oiliness, and brighten the skin. These ingredients are the powerhouse behind smooth, clean and healthy skin.

There are many other beneficial chemicals that can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are the masterminds attached to chemical peels. Malic acid and glycolic acid are both examples of alpha hydroxy acids, while salicylic acid is an example of a beta hydroxy acid.

Alpha hydroxy acids work by sloughing off the top layer of dead skin cells, while thickening the deeper layers of the skin that can create a more plump, firm look to the skin. Beta hydroxy acids (specifically salicylic acid), gets deeper inside of the pores to clear them out of bacteria and debris.

Designer peels are usually a combination of both alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids that work together to combat skin impurities. Designer peels range from treating sensitive and easily bothered skin, to resilient and tough skin.

Chemical peels are a treatment that can work both as an upkeep treatment for clear and healthy skin, or a treatment for ongoing skin conditions. There are peels available to benefit almost every skin type and most conditions.

Patients seeking skin care treatments must first go through a consultation with a licensed professional to make sure the treatment selected fits the clients needs, wants, and expectations. Most patients are good candidates for chemical peels. The most common contraindications for chemical peels are treating people who are allergic to aspirin, pregnancy, or have used Accutane within the last 6 months to a year.

Once a patient is considered a good candidate for chemical peel treatments, the practitioner selects one with the most beneficial ingredients to treat the patient’s concerns. Chemical peel treatments are usually spaced one month apart, but can vary depending on the peel, the patients skin condition, and age of the skin.

During a peel, patients typically experience a heat, or tingling sensation where it has been applied. Post treatment, the skin may look red and feel similar to a mild sunburn. During the next week post treatment, it is normal to have dry skin. It is crucial for patients to follow the correct after-care suggested by their practitioner.

The general aftercare is keeping the skin clean, moisturized, and always wearing an SPF of 30 or higher sunscreen. Patients typically start to observe a positive change in their skin condition after as little as one treatment, although it is recommended to do a series of treatments for full benefit, and longer lasting results.

With many clinical studies to back the results of chemical peels, it is proven to be a great option for long lasting skin rejuvenation, and a treatment for most skin conditions.

They are full of chemicals that work with your skin to combat factors such as genetics, pollution, and sun damage. While some practitioners use chemicals that are not always natural, there will always be an office that does offer botanical based ingredients in the peels they use.

Chemical peels should be considered a good option not only to treat skin conditions, but also for a boost to brighten and refresh the skin.

Anna Wetherell, C.A.E. 503.297.0782, info@eosskinandlaserclinic.com, eosskinandlaserclinic.com