A chemical peel is the topical application of a chemical to the skin surface that induces a controlled injury to a specific depth, resulting in subsequent shedding of damaged tissue and inducing growth of new epithelium.
The earliest use of chemical peels is described in Egyptian medicine in the Ebers papyrus in 1550 BC.
The chemical injury stimulates new skin production with repair mechanisms in the epidermis and dermis. The repair process causes regeneration with collagen remodeling and improved melanin distribution. Chemical peels may be used to improve the cosmetic appearance of the skin (tone, texture, and pigmentation) and they are also useful for therapeutic removal of actinic keratoses.
Chemical peels are classified by depth of destruction:
- Very superficial
- Superficial: exfoliate the epidermal layer
- Medium: to papillary dermis
- Deep: remove papillary dermis and reach reticular dermis