What Over the Counter Medicines Are Keratolytics Found In?

A keratolytic agent is a peeling agent and helps remove the horny layer of skin, according to MedicineNet.com. Salicylic acid and sulfur are keratolytic agents and benzoyl peroxide has keratolytic properties. Keratolytics are often found in wart, callous and corn removal products as well as some dandruff shampoos and skin care products aimed at treating acne. They are often sold over-the-counter or without a prescription.

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Compound W

Compound W is a wart removal product that contains the topical keratolytic agent salicylic acid. It is applied directly to the skin. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that salicylic acid is used for softening and loosening dry, scaly, or thickened skin so that it falls off or can be removed easily. Salicylic acid is the keratoytic most oftne found in over-the-counter wart removal products. However, products containing salicylic acid should not be used for genital warts.

Compound W has several wart removal products. The liquid and the gel contains 17 percent salicylic acid, while the One Step Strips contain a whopping 40 percent. Another Compound W wart removal product, Freeze-Off, uses dimethyl ether which has a cryogenic effect. Cryogenic agents freeze skin cells, killing them, rather than softening them for easy removal like keratolytic agents do.

Dermarest Psoriasis Skin Treatment

The NIH says that salicylic acid can also be used to remove scaling or overgrowth of skin cells, as in the case of psoriasis, a skin disease in which red, scaly patches form on some areas of the body. Dermarest Psoriasis Skin Treatment helps remove the dry, crusty build-up of skin due to psoriasis. It contains 3 percent of the keratolytic agent salicylic acid. In addition to removing the scaling skin, it has ingredients that eliminates itch and reduces redness.

Dr Scholl's Corn and Callus Removers

Dr. Scholl's Corn and Callus Remover is a topically-applied liquid containing 40 percent salicylic acid to help slough off rough skin. This product also has soft pads that can be applied over the healing skin.


Duofilm is a another wart remover that contains 17 percent salicylic acid. Its ingredients and application are similar to the Compound W products containing the same amount of active ingredient.

Oxy Face Scrub

Oxy Face Scrub by Mentholatum Inc. is used to treat acne. It contains 2 percent salicylic acid. Acne.com says that the mild acid encourages the peeling of the epidermis and opens plugged follicles, which helps reestablish the normal skin-cell replacement cycle. Opening plugged follicles allows dirt and hardened oils to be released, preventing infection and reducing skin lesions. Salicylic acid concentrations approved for the treatment of acne is between 0.5 percent –2 percent. Side effects can include dryness and irritation.

AcneFree ClearSkin

A paper published in the Journal of Pharmacological and Biophysical Research found that benzoyl peroxide has keratolytic properties and is helpful for treating acne. AcneFree ClearSkin contains 3.7 percent benzoyl peroxide. Acne.com says that benzoyl peroxide products generally come in non-prescription concentrations of 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. Prescription-strength concentrations can be obtained from a dermatologist.

ProActiv Repairing Lotion

ProActiv Repairing Lotion helps get rid of acne and is sold in vending machines at malls around the country. Its active ingredient is 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide.

Psoriasin Therapeutic Shampoo and Body Wash

Psoriasin Therapeutic Shampoo and Body Wash contains 3 percent salicylic acid to remove skin build-up due to psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis on the skin and scalp. It relieves itching and redness while washing away scaly, flaky skin. The directions say to use this product in place of regular shampoo at least twice a week.

Scalpicin Scalp Relief

Scalpicin Scalp Relief is a medicated liquid that can be applied directly to the scalp to stop itching. It contains 3 percent salicylic acid to loosen flaking due to seborrheic dermatitis. It also contains vitamin E and aloe to help soothe and heal redness and itching.

DDF Sulfur Therapeutic Mask

Sulfur is another keratolytic agent. It is often combined with sodium sulfacetamide to create sodium sulfacetamide-sulfur topical. It is a keratolytic and antibacterial combination used to treat acne, rosacea, and seborrhea. Dermstore.com carries DDF's Sulfur Therapeutic Mask which contains 10 percent sulfur. It is used to treat mild to moderate acne.

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