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Burning sensation after application of salicylic acid.

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I suffer from acne and was using a salicylic toner 2% and mandelic acid serum 10% for about three weeks with no adverse effects. Then I got over zealous with my clarasonic one night and my skin started to hurt and become sensitive, but no redness or visible rash occurred.
Since then I have stopped and have only been using Vanicream and Aveeno Sensitive Face Wash. My face still hurts and is sensitive from moisturizer and sometimes even water and direct sunlight hurts it. This has been 3 weeks already.

Someone told me I over exfoliated, but aren't the symptoms extreme dryness and redness? I don't have that, just irritated extremely sensitive skin to where it throbs all day long.

How long until the burning subsides? It has been three weeks and I dont see any improvement. Are the nerves exposed? How long until the skin or nerves 'heal'? At first I thought it was shingles.

Do you recommend any skin products to use during this time? Or any medicine to relieve the burning?

Also I have attached photos. In the photos you will see some redness but that is just from my acne scarring.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Category: Dermatologist

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Category: Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeon
 28 Doctors Online


Thanks for posting your query at DoctorSpring. I can understand your concern.

At times over zealous use of salicylic acid based products can give sensitivity for six to eight weeks as well.

I would recommend that you apply cortisone cream once a day for a week on the face. Thus will reduce the inflammation that might be causing the burning. The nerves are not exposed. But there is an inflammation in the skin which is causing the burning.

Also you can take an anti histamine like tab.claritin 5 mg once at night, which will take care of any allergic component that might be associated.

Hope this helps with your concern.

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Take care

Patient replied :

Hi Doctor-
Thank you for responding so quickly. Let me just ask you this question. Doesn't over exfoliating cause redness and raw skin? I didn't have any of that. Just started to sting and burn. Is that possible?

Thank you.


Thanks for your reply.

Over exfoliating can cause redness and raw skin but getting stinging and irritation without it also is possible.

It shows that the skin is very sensitive.

Patient replied :

Hi Doctor-
I asked another doctor for their opinion and they agreed that the burning/inflammation is under the skin and may take time to heal even though the surface has no visible redness or skin changes.
He said that the skin/nerves below are inflamed and irritated. And that it may take 2-3 months for nerves to repair and heal.
He recommended a prescription for low dose gabapentin/amitryptyline is the burning sensation is intense. The way my skin feels I feel like it should be red as a tomato on the surface, but there is nothing.
Do you agree with what this doctor may have told me? What about those medicines?

Thank you again for your help and response.

Thanks for your reply.

After a rash or lesion, it's possible to get pain or burning or irritation even when there is no lesion that's visible after healing. That's possible in your case. You can take the recommended medication as it would be helpful.

Take care

Dr. Kruti Jobanputra Banodkar
Category: Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeon
Diploma in Dermatology - Royal College Of Physicians & Surgeons Of Glasgow, UK , 2010
Residency - DNB, Dermatology -  K.J Somaiya Hospital, Mumbai, 2009
Medical School & Internship - MBBS - Dr. D . Y . Patil Medical College, Mumbai, 2004
Dr. Kruti Jobanputra Banodkar and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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