Chemical Skin Peels for Acne - Aftercare & Recovery


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During your recovery from a chemical skin peel, is extremely important to know how to look after your recovering skin and what symptoms are normal. Being able to confidently care for your skin can improve the overall results of your chemical peel.

Aftercare following a Chemical Peel Acne Treatment

How you care for your skin during its recovery will depend on the type and concentration of the chemical peel you had. Your practitioner should have fully advised you about how to look after you skin but if you have any queries or concerns do not hesitate to get back in touch. Aftercare will vary depending on the patient and practitioner involved but this section provides a good basic guide.

  • Aftercare for AHA peels – This kind of treatment requires very little aftercare. As the peel is very light, it has very few side effects. You may experience some mild reddening and peeling but this should clear up very quickly. You may be advised to wash the area with a gentle cleanser and cool water daily and to gently moisturise afterwards. You should apply a high-factor sun cream for a few weeks after treatment.
  • Aftercare for light-to-medium TCA peels – This treatment also requires little aftercare but demands far greater avoidance of sunlight. Keep out of the sun as much as possible and apply a high-factor sun cream twice a day. In all other respects the aftercare for this level of peel is the same as for AHA peels.
  • Aftercare for deep TCA peels – The skin requires greater care after a heavy TCA peel. It is possible that you may experience pain that can usually be treated with over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol. You should stay completely out of sunlight for at least 2-3 days and should wear sun cream at all times. You will probably experience quite bad swelling, reddening, flaking, crusting, peeling and irritation which can be combated with the use of an ice pack held gently to the affected area. You may have been prescribed creams or ointments to care for your skin that you should apply as instructed by your practitioner.
  • Aftercare for Phenol peels – This type of peel requires the most aftercare. You should stay out of direct sunlight and apply sun cream rigorously for the foreseeable future. You are likely to experience pain that your practitioner should have prescribed painkillers to help you deal with. The treated area is also likely to become badly swollen. The gentle application of an ice pack and keeping the area elevated by sitting up rather than lying down can help this. You are advised to gently cleanse the treated area 1-3 times a day and to make sure you apply any ointments your practitioner may have prescribed for you.

Recovery from Chemical Peels for Acne

The time you take to recover from a chemical peel depends on which peel you had done.

  • AHA peels – You can return to work almost immediately after an AHA peel. Your skin should have completely healed in no more than 5-6 days.
  • Light-medium TCA peels – You should expect to need a day or two from recovery but should be completely healed after about 9 days.
  • Deep TCA peels – Your skin can take much longer to recover from a deep peel. You should expect to need at least three days recovery and may not see full recovery until after about 14 days.
  • Phenol peels – You may well need a weeks of recovery time after a phenol peel and it can take up to 2 months for your skin to have completely healed.

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