Salicylic Acid is most often associated with the aspirin form, acetylsalicylic acid. Yet today the global market for salicylic acid continues to grow. In fact, it’s expected to reach $492.1 million USD by 2025.
This means that you may have an increased chance of coming in contact with this chemical. If you work with salicylic acid, you must understand its potential hazards. Continue reading to learn more about this acid.
What Is Salicylic Acid?
The chemical formula for salicylic acid, also called ionil or salicylate, is C7H6O3 or HOC6H4COOH. It’s an organic crystalline solid that occurs naturally in plants including the willow tree and salix. Synthetic forms are also created from sodium phenolate and carbon dioxide.
The white or light tan salicylic acid solid sinks and then dissolves in water. It’s also moderately acidic. Sometimes it’s found in the human liver, skin, saliva, feces, urine, and blood.
This acid has a faint nutty and phenolic taste and is odorless. Some foods such as soursop, beer, breakfast cereal, and cardamom contain this chemical.
Salicylic Acid Usage
The most prevalent use of salicylic acid is for medical purposes. When applied to thick skin, it causes the layers to break down. Thus, it’s used to treat the following conditions:
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Common warts
- Plantar warts
- Keratosis pilaris
- Acanthosis nigricans
Topical salicylic acid comes in several forms. These included liquid, gel, cream, ointment, foam, lotion, soap, and shampoo. Some treatments use cloth pads or skin patches infused with the acid.
Salicylic acid is also used in skin and hair care products. It serves to reduce skin discoloration and exfoliate dead skin cells. Always follow your healthcare provider’s directions if you use this product.
Also of note, this chemical is often used as a laboratory chemical and for laboratory analysis.
Salicylic Acid Hazards
On a safety data sheet (SDS), this chemical’s signal word is “Danger”. This indicates that while salicylic acid is commonly used, it carries risks.
Anyone may have an allergic reaction when exposed to the acid. This may cause a skin rash, hives, or itching.
More serious reactions can also occur. Examples include swelling of the face, lips, and tongue. This may block the airway and become life-threatening.
If someone begins experiencing severe side effects, contact a healthcare provider. Also, call a medical professional if mild to moderate symptoms don’t go away.
Salicylic acid has an association with reproductive toxicity. If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about any exposures.
Salicylic Acid Safety
The chemical safety risk ratings for salicylic acid are “corrosive”, “irritant”, and “health hazard”. It’s only intended for use on the skin.
Everyone must take steps to avoid contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, or other mucus membranes. It should not be ingested either.
When working with this chemical, don’t eat, drink, or smoke to prevent accidental exposure. Also, wear protective eyewear and gloves.
Never use more of this medicine than ordered by the provider. The medication should be only taken for the recommended period of time. Excess use of this chemical can lead to salicylic acid poisoning.
How to Respond to an Exposure
If an unexpected exposure occurs, everyone must be ready to respond in the correct manner. The SDS includes information about exposure management.
Mucous Membrane Exposure
Immediately flush eyes, nose, mouth, or mucous membranes with water for 15 minutes. Make sure that the exposed eye or side of the nose is lower than the unaffected side. This will ensure that the chemical doesn’t get washed into the other eye or nostril.
If problems with the eyes persist, see an ophthalmologist. Seek medical attention for any other ongoing mucous membrane irritation.
General Body Exposure
For large, general body exposure to salicylic acid, remove all contaminated clothing. Use gloves, if possible, to handle the clothing and place it into a plastic bag. Flush the exposed skin with plenty of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
In the event that the salicylic acid is inhaled, leave the contaminated area. Go to an area that will provide fresh air. If the individual has trouble breathing, seek medical advice.
Ingestion of Chemical
If the salicylic acid is ingested, and the person is conscious, rinse the mouth with water. Seek medical help if the person becomes unconscious or experiences serious side effects. This may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, spasm, or cardiac arrest.
SDS Management for Salicylic Acid
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide information for a specific chemical. They include the chemical definition, hazard level, risks, and safety precautions. SDS also provide emergency exposure instructions.
All companies that use hazardous chemicals must institute an SDS management program. Today, this process is easier than in the past.
Online-SDS™ has safety data sheets ready for you on demand. This means you don’t have to contact each chemical company to gather the needed information. Hundreds of thousands of SDS are already available in the robust KHA database.
When you subscribe to this service, you’re able to run reports and analyze the hazardous materials you have on-site. Many more features are included in the service offering such as secondary label printing and inventory functions.
You can distribute the SDS sheets to your employees digitally or in hardcopy format.
Are You Looking for an SDS Management Solution?
While salicylic acid is often used to treat medical conditions, it still has risks. Companies that work with this acid, must comply with SDS management rules.
KHA offers specialized software and services to help you set-up and maintain your SDS program. Our company is one of the first to provide scanning and HAZMAT inventory integration. We have fax-on-demand and internet/intranet distribution to meet your needs.
If you have a question, our customer support staff is ready to provide personalized service. Helping you solve your problem is our priority. Contact us today for more information about our services.