Salicylic acidis an organic compound with the formula HOC6H4CO2H. A colorless solid, it is a precursor to and a metabolite of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is a plant hormone. The name is from Latin salix for willow tree. It is an ingredient in some anti-acne products. Salts and esters of salicylic acid are known as salicylates.
Salicylic acid esterified with methanol in the presence of an acid catalyst gives methyl salicylate, synthetic oil of wintergreen, which is used as a flavouring agent. Treatment of salicylic acid with phenol gives phenyl salicylate, which is used for sunburn creams and enteric-coated pills and to make salicylanilide for use as a fungicide and mildew preventive. Salicylic acid is a component of preparations used to combat warts, corns, calluses, and various skin diseases. The sodium salt is used in the manufacture of certain classes of dyes.
Uses in manufacturing
Salicylic acid is used in the production of other pharmaceuticals, including 4-aminosalicylic acid, sandulpiride, and landetimide (via salethamide).
Salicylic acid has long been a key starting material for making acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) is prepared by the esterification of the phenolic hydroxyl group of salicylic acid with the acetyl group from acetic anhydride or acetyl chloride.
Bismuth subsalicylate, a salt of bismuth and salicylic acid, is the active ingredient in stomach-relief aids such as Pepto-Bismol, is the main ingredient of Kaopectate, and "displays anti-inflammatory action (due to salicylic acid) and also acts as an antacid and mild antibiotic".
Other derivatives include methyl salicylate used as a liniment to soothe joint and muscle pain and choline salicylate used topically to relieve the pain of mouth ulcers.