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HomeAnswersDermatologyirritant dermatitisThe skin around my mouth has become dry and darker because of glycolic acid use. Please help.

Can chemical exfoliation using glycolic acid cause skin darkening?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At October 29, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 2, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I had over-exfoliated my skin five days back using Glycolic Acid, and the area around my mouth became very dry, darker, and pigmented.

Please help me.


Welcome to icliniq.com.

I went through your query and understood your concern.

Irritant dermatitis/exfoliative dermatitis may appear due to excess exfoliation using physical and chemical exfoliants. As you have mentioned, usage of exfoliants in the form of Glycolic Acid may lead to irritation, burning sensation, and later PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) which occurs in dark areas after the inflammation reduces.

My advice:

1. Kindly refrain from using exfoliants or any skin care products including face washes for four weeks or till the rashes heal.

2. Hydrocortisone cream 1% is to be applied in a very thin layer with the smallest quantity possible on the affected area at night only for seven days.

3. In case of pain or tenderness on touch, Clindamycin (antibiotic) gel alone may be used on the affected area once daily in the morning. In case of severe dryness, apply moisturizers in a very small amount on the affected area to relieve the dryness and irritation.

4. Use only water to clean your face for a period of four weeks.

5. Take tablet Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) 500 mg. It is a chewable tablet, take it once daily after food at night for one month. It helps with faster healing.

6. Take capsule Evion 400 mg in the morning after food for one month. They help with keeping skin hydrated.

7. Take capsule Omega 3 (nutritional supplement) once daily after food at night for one month. They help with skin hydration along with Evion.

8. After the rashes heal, make sure to exfoliate once in two weeks only as too much exfoliation can strip off natural oils from facial skin leading to easy susceptibility to infections and dermatitis or skin irritation.

9. Avoid oily or fried food, dairy products, and sweets. And make sure to consume more fruits, vegetables, and at least 12 glasses of water daily.

10. Cold compresses may also be applied to the affected area twice daily for a soothing effect.

Kindly consult a specialist, talk with them and take the medications with their consent.I hope this was helpful.

Take care.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Sandhya Narayanan Kutty
Dr. Sandhya Narayanan Kutty


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