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Chemical Peel Aftercare

Superficial peels result in mild facial redness and occasional swelling which usually resolve within 48 hours. The peeling is similar to sunburn. Most people can continue their normal activities. A moisturiser will need to be applied regularly afterwards. Makeup can be applied a few hours after the procedure.

Moderate depth peels result in intense inflammation and swelling. This will usually resolve within a week. The peeling is more marked. Mild redness can persist for several weeks. Most people will want to take a week off work after a moderate depth peel.

Looking after your skin after a peel

  • Keep treated areas cool using a water spray
  • Do not pick! Picking delays healing and causes scarring
  • Moisturise using light preparations after a superficial peel and thicker preparations after a deeper peel
  • Protect your skin from the sun especially for the first six months
  • If recommended by your doctor continue to use tretinoin, glycolic acid and / or hydroquinone at night


Complications after a chemical peel are uncommon. However, the following risks should be noted:

  • Comedones (blocked pores) or acne may result from the peel itself or from thick moisturisers used afterwards. Ask your dermatologist for treatment.
  • Infection due to bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), yeast (Candida albicans) or virus (Herpes simplex).
  • Scarring may result from infection or picking – this may be permanent.
  • Persistent solar keratoses may require treatment. Your dermatologist may choose cryotherapy,5-fluorouracil cream or biopsy as needed.
  • Discomfort – a warming or stinging sensation may be experienced during treatment

Chemical peel outcomes
The skin appears fresher and rejuvenated after the chemical peel. Chemical peels are often the treatment of choice for patients who have fine lines, pigment changes in the skin such as blemishes and other minor irregularities. Peels can also be used to treat scars such as acne scars and certain superficial skin cancers. Chemical peels can be used to enhance the results of a surgical procedure. Surgery alone may not be sufficient to obtain optimal aesthetic facial rejuvenation. In such cases the surgical procedures may need to be complemented with other resurfacing modalities such as chemical peels which have effects similar to laser resurfacing.