Will I Get Burn Spots After Chemical Peel? How Common They Are + Causes

By Emily M.| Last updated on March 7, 2024
burn spots after chemical peel
⏱️ 4 min read

There’s a wide-spread misconception that chemical peels melt your face off.

You know, like Samantha in that one episode of Sex and the City. That scene has single-handedly scared tons of people away from chemical peels for over a decade! So it’s time to bust that myth.

Burn spots after a chemical peel aren’t a normal side effect. Nor are they common – when the peel is done properly. Let’s talk about why burn spots after chemical peel occur, so you know how to avoid getting them.

A Quick Reminder About Chemical Peels…

By removing the dead skin, grime, and other debris that make the skin look dull, chemical peels help unclog pores and improve skin texture.

However, they can be used for much more specific issues than just rejuvenation.

So a chemical peel is a type of exfoliation, that uses acid solutions to remove dead skin. The peeling agent breaks down the connective tissue that is holding the dead skin together, so it flakes off and new skin emerges.

Chemical peels come in different intensities, from mild (light) to very intense (deep).

Depending on the concentration (usually 10-30% but in extreme cases up to 50%), the results vary. The higher the percentage, the more visible the results – but also the higher risk of complications, including getting burn spots after chemical peel.

Deep peels penetrate through multiple skin layers which is why they are much more painful and carry much higher chances of something going wrong. But more on that later.

normal peeling after chemical peel
Image source: Instagram @skin.boss

What Causes Burn Spots After Chemical Peel?

If the chemical peeling agent is left on the skin for too long, it can lead to a chemical burn.

Because of the acidic nature of the solution applied during the treatment, the dead skin cells will continue to burn the skin off for however long they’re left on the skin. What stops this process is the neutralizing agent.

This means that timing its application is crucial.

Note that when doing a chemical peel, you are essentially causing an inflammatory reaction in your body. Which in itself can lead to some complications.

Initially, your skin will look worse after the chemical peel procedure. It will be a peeling mess until you can see the improvement.

So after the treatment, do not apply any active skincare ingredients such as retinol, AHA, BHA, vitamin C, etc.

The protective barrier was just removed and product penetration is deeper than normal so active ingredients might reach parts they aren’t meant to. This can lead to infections and even irreparable damage to the skin.

What Causes Burn Spots After Chemical Peel
Image source: Instagram @skinandtox_syd

How Likely Are Burn Spots After Chemical Peel to Happen?

Chemical burns are rare, especially after light or light-medium peels. Burn spots after chemical peel are most frequently associated with deeper, more concentrated peels.

Deeper peels are used for severe sun damage, scarring, or deep wrinkles. This is a serious treatment that is most often done by medical professionals. It entails a local anesthetic and a sedative and is followed by a very rigorous post-care regime.

Because of this, deep peels bring much more dramatic results, but they also carry much higher risks and side effects.

These complications can be minor like slight hyperpigmentation, some irritation, and burning and painful sensations, but they can also be serious concerns like blistering and scarring.

Some complications can even pose life-threatening concerns.

Additionally, the risks are higher for people with darker skin tones.

How Likely Are Burn Spots After Chemical Peel to Happen?
Image source: Instagram @ritualbodystudio

So, Are Chemical Peels Safe?

Yes, if you go to a licensed and experienced professional then burns aren’t likely to happen; however – if you get a deep chemical peel and don’t take aftercare seriously, burn spots are a possibility.

If it does come to burn spots after chemical peel, they are usually easily treated with a topical cream prescribed by dermatologists.

If you suspect something is wrong, go to a doctor straight away. Blisters, swelling, and pain are all results of chemical burns.

Alternative Treatments

If you are too scared to book a chemical peel, but still want the results this treatment provides, there are alternatives.

See how chemical peel compares to microdermabrasion, another exfoliating treatment that isn’t as invasive.

Or, see how it compares to microneedling, one of the treatments that is often combined with light chemical peels.

In Conclusion

Burn spots after chemical peel scares a lot of people from getting this treatment. But in reality, this risk isn’t that common.

The majority of clients only get light to medium peels, which are very rarely associated with chemical burns. Still, to stay on the safe side, you need to make sure the technician is properly trained and trustworthy.

Do your research before booking and if something still goes wrong, see a doctor immediately.

Cover Image Source: Freepik



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