How to Wash a Face After a Chemical Peel

During a chemical peel, a solution such as glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid is applied to the skin. The chemical continues to work on the skin over the next week or two, causing the top layer of skin to blister and peel off. During recovery, the skin where the chemical was applied will be raw, painful and prone to infection. There are a few essential after-peel steps that will help soothe your inflamed skin. That's why proper aftercare of your chemical peel is essential to a safe and speedy recovery and preventing any instances of bacterial infection.

Different kinds of sunscreen containers sit on a white counter. (Image: ClaudioVentrella/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Remove any dressings on your skin before washing. Dressings are typically necessary after medium and deep peels.

Step 2

Wash the affected skin immediately using clean, cool water, several times each day. Wait two to three days after the peel to apply a cleansing solution to your skin. If your surgeon gave you a special cleansing solution or recommends Cetaphil for you to use following your peel, use this instead of water until the bottle is empty.

Step 3

Use the tips of your fingers to wash your face in a circular motion. This will help loosen any scabs and improve circulation to the affected area. Apply gentle pressure when washing to avoid damaging raw skin.

Step 4

Pat your skin gently with a clean, soft cloth. Do not rub your skin. Use a new cloth every time you wash your skin to help prevent infection.

Step 5

Replace any ointment and dressings as instructed by your surgeon.

Step 6

Shower two to three times each day, starting on the third day following your peel, to loosen crusts on your skin. Do not allow the water from the shower to make direct contact with your face.

Step 7

Apply sunscreen to your skin after washing. Do not apply sunscreen until all peeling of your skin has stopped.

Things You'll Need

  • Gauze dressings

  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)

  • Cleansing solution

  • Soft cloth

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