The keratolytic agents are now mostly used in dermatology and podiatry. Two major substances have keratolytic properties: salicylic acid and urea.
How do the keratolytics work?
The keratolytics are applied locally and often in combination with other treatments and soften the stratum corneum of the epidermis promoting peeling. Salicylic acid – also well known for its antipyretic action - is used more for some forms of psoriasis, seborrhoea,acne and warts. It accelerates renewal of epidermal cells and reduces plaque thickness. Urea is recommended particularly for plantar keratoderma and ichthyosis. It has mostly moisturising properties.
Do they have contraindications or precautions?
The main side effects of salicylic acid are burns. For this reason it should not be applied to large surface areas, around the eyes or onto mucosal membranes. it is also not recommended for use in children and infants. Urea can also cause burns and skin irritation. It should therefore not be applied over excessively large surface areas.
Source: Merck Manual – 4th editionAfssaps
The keratolytics, to soften the skin. © Phovoir