Acne Treatment: Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a commonly-prescribed medication for acne treatment. Azelaic acid is a derivative of dicarboxylic acid. It is often regarded as being more effective than other conventional forms of acne treatment medications, like retinoids and those formulated with benzoyl peroxide.

Azelaic Acid Application

Azelaic acid is commonly used for treating chronic cases of acne wherein the swelling and acne-scarring haven’t yielded to conventional acne treatment options like medicated face-washes. Azelaic acid is reputed to be particularly effective for treating acne that has a lump-like base or looks like skin lesions. Apart from killing the acne-causing bacteria, Azelaic acid helps to decrease the resistance level of the bacteria against antibiotics. This is why it is often used in combination with oral antibiotics prescribed as a part of acne-treatment regimens.

Azelaic Acid Formulation and Nomenclature

Azelaic acid is a saturated derivative of dicarboxylic acid. It is a naturally-occurring chemical found in wheat and rye. In industrial production, it is sourced from yeast called Pityrosporumu ovale. Azelaic acid is commonly sold in the form of facial creams and gels that can be easily applied on the acne. Azelaic acid is available under various brand names. Some of the most common brands that contain Azelaic acid-based formulation include:

  • Acnederm
  • Finevin
  • Azelex

Azelaic Acid Basics

Azelaic acid is strictly a prescription medication for acne, and it shouldn’t be used without seeking medical opinion. Azelaic acid isn't ideal for every type of acne treatment. In fact, it is seldom recommended to acne induced by hormonal changes. The medicated gel containing Azelaic acid is used to wash the acne-prone areas at least twice a day for best results. Azelaic acid is often prescribed for rosacea treatment, since it can curb an inflammatory acne breakout.

The effect of Azelaic acid takes some time to yield visible results. Usually, it takes about three days before the medication is able to control the acne to some extent. Azelaic acid treatment is usually prescribed for about two months. However, some dermatologists might continue the usage of Azelaic acid even after complete recovery. This is because during the post-treatment stage, there is an underlying fear of the hardening of scar tissue or widespread hyperpigmentation. Azelaic acid helps to cure both of these conditions.

Azelaic Acid Side Effects

Azelaic acid is a naturally-derived chemical and hence, it puts forth minimal risks in terms of causing serious side-effects. However, when used to clear the hyperpigmentation caused by acne, Azelaic acid can lighten the skin tone beyond the desired level. This can be understood as the bleaching effect induced by long-term usage of Azelaic acid.

People with sensitive skin might be faced with some unwanted exfoliation, wherein the outer layer of their skin develops a scaly, reddish form after using Azelaic acid. However, many of these symptoms don’t need medical attention and tend to resolve on their own within a few weeks.

It is generally recommended that Azelaic acid shouldn’t be used by pregnant women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified Azelaic acid as a Category B drug. This means that substantial studies to prove its safety among pregnant or lactating mothers haven’t been conducted.