Are Chemical Peels Safe for People With Sensitive Skin?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just peel wrinkles, blemishes, and age spots off your skin? With a chemical peel, dermatologists can do just that. These treatments are a great way to repair and protect your damaged skin.
What Is a Chemical Peel?
Before diving into the details of chemical peels and how safe they might be for people with sensitive skin, let us explain what a chemical peel is.
Chemical peels are the application of topical products to the skin to help reverse sun damage. Our dermatologists use this treatment on the face, neck, and sometimes arms to cause a chemical reaction in a specific area, which reduces skin damage from sun exposure and harmful UV rays.
Chemical peel treatments differ from patient to patient, depending on their unique needs. Each method works slightly differently and causes a different reaction within the skin, but each helps minimize sun damage.
At Dermatology, Surgery, and Cosmetics of Northeast Ohio, we do three basic types of chemical peels:
- Light peels
- Medium peels
- Deep peels
Light peels (also called refreshing peels and superficial peels) typically use alpha-hydroxy acids. These acids help treat blemishes, sunspots, and fine wrinkles, leaving the skin healthy and radiant. Alpha-hydroxy acid might sound scary to apply to skin, but don’t worry—it’s a natural substance found in many foods like fruits.
Treatment Schedule: One peel every two or three weeks, up to eight total treatments. Your skin will be red afterward, but it usually heals within a couple of days.
With medium peels, we typically use trichloroacetic acid. This treatment method helps take care of more undesirable skin conditions than a light peel does, such as:
- Large wrinkles
- Precancerous skin lesions
Treatment Schedule: Once every two years. Your skin will look severely sunburned for at least a week afterward.
Deep peels have become less common since the emergence of laser resurfacing. However, this is still an effective treatment. A deep peel reaches farther down in the dermis to provide more significant results than a light or medium peel.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Chemical Peel?
Anyone can be a candidate for a chemical peel. Most people of any age, skin color, and skin type can undergo treatment safely if they get the proper application for their needs. Except in rare cases, chemical peels are safe and effective for all patient types.
We do need to be more careful in patients with darker skin because peeling can lead to hyperpigmentation.
What Can You Expect During a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel works by removing different parts of the specified skin area. With our light or superficial chemical peel, we remove the outer layer of skin. In contrast, our medium peel works a bit deeper, focusing on the epidermis and surface-level layers of the dermis, while the deep peel takes place down into the dermis.
Conditions That a Chemical Peel Can Treat
Dermatologists use chemical peels to help reduce signs of aging, sun-damaged skin cells, and some epidermal conditions. If you or a loved one suffers from any of these skin issues, ask your doctor about seeking treatment. With a chemical peel, you can receive treatment for:
- Discoloration (including uneven skin tone)
- Certain acne types
- Age spots
- Fine wrinkles
- Rough skin
- Sun damage
Chemical peels aren’t the best treatment option for everyone. You’ll want to discuss your condition with our dermatologist to find the right solution for you.
How the Procedure Works
For many patients, the idea of getting a chemical peel can be daunting. However, it’s a relatively easy and straightforward process when you visit an experienced dermatologist. Our doctors will tell you everything you need to know and answer any questions about the process beforehand.
Here’s what you can expect during a chemical peel procedure:
- Pretreating the skin. In some cases, patients must undergo a skin care plan for two to four weeks before the treatment day. Your dermatologist might require this pretreatment time to help you achieve better results and avoid side effects.
- Cleansing the skin. On treatment day, we first cleanse the skin with alcohol or phenol. This step removes all the oils from the epidermis and allows the peeling substrate to penetrate the skin in the correct place and reach the appropriate level.
- Administering anesthesia. For a deep peel, our doctors will administer general anesthesia to put you to sleep. Deep peels take place far beneath the skin’s surface, so they require a surgical setting. You generally won’t need anesthesia for light or medium peels.
- Applying the peel. Our dermatologist applies the peel evenly onto the skin. We have specific application patterns that vary depending on the area we’re treating (face, neck, chest, arms, and so on). Sometimes, we’ll use a fan to help cool the skin and reduce burning or stinging sensations during the peel application.
- Neutralizing or cleansing the peel. We neutralize some peels to remove them, while others require cleansing. After a light or medium peel procedure, you’ll probably need to apply moisturizer, sunscreen, or a cool compress to soothe the skin. After a deep peel, you’ll need surgical dressing for the wound.
Concerns Related to Chemical Peels
You may be wondering, “Do chemical peels hurt?” The short answer is yes—chemical peels can be painful. If you get a light peel, you typically won’t feel much pain, but medium and deep peels penetrate deeper, resulting in a more painful experience.
Patients also ask, “Are there any risks and side effects to chemical peels?” Again, the answer is yes. However, these risk factors, such as hyperpigmentation with darker skin tones, depend primarily on the type of chemical peel and topical product and the condition of your skin. Your doctor will clearly explain the risks to you.
Deep peels can affect the entire body, including the kidneys, heart, and nervous system. Dermatologists administer peels carefully and monitor treatments closely to ensure that the only side effects you may experience are skin related.
Are Chemical Peels Safe for People With Sensitive Skin?
Yes, chemical peels are appropriate for people with sensitive skin. However, our dermatologist will consider your skin sensitivity level when determining your best treatment option as well as during the peel procedure. This treatment will cause redness and peeling, which can be worse with sensitive skin.
How to Know If You Have Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, your skin will react negatively to many different things. You may suffer from various allergies. You’ll likely be more susceptible to redness, burning, and stinging and need to avoid certain products.
What Can You Expect After a Chemical Peel?
Chemical peels can help reduce unwanted signs of aging and sun damage. We also sometimes use peeling treatment for specific types of acne and skin discoloration conditions.
After your chemical peel procedure, you can expect the following results:
- Smoother, clearer skin
- Younger-looking skin
- More even skin tone
- Brighter complexion
Achieve Healthier, Happier Skin With a Chemical Peel
At Dermatology, Surgery, and Cosmetics of Northeast Ohio, our board-certified dermatologists can help people like you achieve healthier, happier skin. Contact us today to talk to a dermatologist and discuss treatment options and services to help you get the beautiful skin you’ve always wanted.