A woman is applying a skin care product.

Azelaic Acid Benefits, Use, Side Effects and More

Did you know that azelaic acid has been used for decades to treat different skin concerns?

Azelaic acid is a saturated dicarboxylic acid that has numerous benefits for the skin. It’s well-known for its potential to effectively target acne and reduce hyperpigmentation. But its benefits don’t stop there. Continue reading to discover more about its usage and health benefits.

Azelaic Acid Benefits

This naturally occurring acid is found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye. With its versatile benefits, azelaic acid has become a popular choice for many skin concerns. Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of azelaic acid:

Acne Treatment

Azelaic acid is a potent acne treatment due to its dual action against acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium) and inflammation. It reduces the growth of Propionibacterium and prevents new acne lesions from forming. By unclogging pores and reducing inflammation, azelaic acid clears existing acne and prevents their future breakouts. 

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Its anti-inflammatory effects are valuable for various skin conditions, especially for acne and rosacea. It inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators in the skin, such as interleukin-8 and reactive oxygen species.

This acid improves the appearance of the skin by calming inflammation, making it look less red and irritated. It also reduces swelling, and discomfort associated with inflammatory skin conditions.

These anti-inflammatory effects may also help in the treatment of conditions like melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, where inflammation leads to skin discoloration.

Reducing Scars

This organic compound offers promising benefits for reducing scars, especially those resulting from acne or other inflammatory skin conditions. Its ability to inhibit tyrosinase (an enzyme involved in melanin production) helps fade hyperpigmentation commonly associated with scars. By reducing melanin production, azelaic acid can lighten dark spots and create a more even skin tone, which makes scars less noticeable over time. 

Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and swelling around scars, which further reduces their visibility. Regular use of azelaic acid promotes skin cell turnover, aiding in the gradual fading of scars and improving the overall texture and tone of the skin.

Unclogging Pores

Azelaic acid works by normalizing the shedding of skin cells inside the follicle, preventing the buildup of keratin that can lead to clogged pores. Besides, it reduces acne lesions by clearing the pores and preventing comedone formation. This process improves the overall texture of the skin, making it smoother and more even-toned. 

Reducing Redness

With its anti-inflammatory properties, this compound effectively reduces redness in conditions like rosacea and acne. By calming the skin and decreasing the production of inflammatory mediators, it alleviates redness and swelling. It also inhibits melanin production and prevents post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which also results in better skin health and appearance.

How to Use Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is commonly found in creams, gels, and foams, which are applied directly to the skin. These products are typically available in different concentrations, ranging from 10% to 20%. They can be used once or twice daily, depending on the product and skin tolerance. It’s important to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it to minimize the risk of irritation.

Products containing azelaic acid can be used alone or in combination with other acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. When using multiple products, it’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist to ensure compatibility and avoid over-drying or irritating the skin.

Summing Up

Hopefully, this overview has clarified azelaic acid’s potential benefits for your skin. Whether you’re dealing with acne, hyperpigmentation, or looking to rejuvenate your skin, azelaic acid could be the game-changer for your skincare routine.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can you use azelaic acid every day?

Yes, azelaic acid can be used daily, but it’s important to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase as tolerated. Most people can use it once a day, although some can use it twice a day. It’s important to follow the instructions on the product and use sunscreen during the day, as it can increase photosensitivity. If you experience irritation or excessive dryness, reduce the frequency of use. Azelaic acid is generally well-tolerated, but individual responses may vary, so it’s best to start slowly and keep an eye on your skin’s reaction.


What should you not mix with azelaic acid?

Avoid using azelaic acid with products that are highly acidic, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), as this combination can increase the risk of irritation. Similarly, avoid using azelaic acid with products containing strong concentrations of vitamin C or retinoids, as these may also cause irritation when combined. It’s important to wait at least 30 minutes between applying azelaic acid and other products to allow it to absorb properly. You should also be cautious when using products that increase skin sensitivity, such as exfoliants or harsh cleansers, as they may interact poorly with azelaic acid. 


Who should stay away from azelaic acid?

Individuals with allergies or sensitivities to azelaic acid should avoid using products containing this ingredient. People with very sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema or dermatitis should also be cautious, as azelaic acid may exacerbate these conditions. Additionally, those using other topical treatments or medications for acne or other skin conditions should consult a dermatologist before using azelaic acid to avoid potential interactions or adverse effects.


Is azelaic acid better than salicylic acid?

There are differences in the efficiency of azelaic acid and salicylic acid depending on the specific skin concerns being addressed. Azelaic acid is more effective at reducing inflammation and treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This makes it a better choice for acne scars. On the other hand, salicylic acid is better at unclogging pores and exfoliating the skin, making it more suitable for treating and preventing acne breakouts. The choice between the two acids may also depend on individual skin types and tolerances.