Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid that is found in various grains like rye, wheat and barley. This acid has been receiving significant attention in the skincare industry due to its multiple therapeutic benefits for the skin. In this article, we will discuss the key aspects of azelaic acid including its functions, uses and efficacy.
What is Azelaic Acid?
Chemically synthesized azelaic acid was introduced as a topical treatment for acne and rosacea in the late 1980s. It is available over the counter in concentrations between 15-20% and is also used as a prescription-strength medication at concentrations as high as 30%.
Azelaic acid exhibits antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and keratolytic properties which make it an excellent treatment option for various skin conditions like acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation. Its multiple favorable properties and minimal side effects profile have cemented its place as a popular ingredient in prescription-grade as well as cosmetic skincare products.
How does Azelaic Acid Work?
Azelaic acid demonstrates antibacterial effects against Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium implicated in causing acne lesions. It works by inhibiting the metabolic activity of this bacteria and suppressing the inflammation caused by it. Apart from inhibiting bacterial growth, it also possesses keratolytic properties meaning it helps dissolve the dead skin cells accumulated on the skin surface.
By reducing excess dead cells, azelaic acid allows the active acne lesions to resurface quickly. Additionally, it helps reduce inflammation associated with acne by inhibiting the release of inflammatory mediators like IL-8 from keratinocytes. Its anti-inflammatory effects also help reduce the papules and pustules caused by rosacea. Azelaic acid may also act as a tyrosinase inhibitor. This prevents excess melanin production helping reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Benefits of Using Azelaic Acid
Some key benefits of using azelaic acid on the skin are discussed below:
Controls Acne Breakouts
The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of azelaic acid help in controlling acne breakouts effectively. It clears existing acne lesions and prevents new ones from occurring by inhibiting P. acnes bacteria. Studies have shown it to be as effective as topical antibiotics in treating mild to moderate acne.
Azelaic Acid can significantly reduce inflammatory lesions, redness and bumps associated with rosacea. Its anti-inflammatory properties help calm flare-ups associated with this skin condition.
By inhibiting melanin production, azelaic acid helps fade post-inflammatory dark spots and pigmentation left behind by acne, sun exposure or other skin injuries. Over time, it provides an even skin tone.
Gentle on Sensitive Skin
Due to its small molecular size, azelaic acid penetrates the skin deeply without causing irritation. It is minimally allergenic and rarely causes stinging, burning or dryness like some other acne medications. This makes it a safer option for sensitive skin prone individuals.
Lowers Risk of Antibiotic Resistance
Since azelaic acid does not share the mechanism of antibiotic resistance seen with other acne medications, it carries a lower risk of contributing to antibiotic resistance in Cutibacterium acnes bacteria.
What Conditions can Azelaic Acid Treat?
Based on the aforementioned properties and benefits, azelaic acid has proven efficacy in treating the following conditions:
Azelaic acid is effective in treating mild to moderate acne when applied topically. It can reduce both non-inflamed (whiteheads, blackheads) and inflamed lesions (papules, pustules).
It provides relief from inflammatory lesions and flushing associated with rosacea by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Regular application helps fade brown spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma by inhibiting excess melanin production.
How to use Azelaic Acid?
For best results, azelaic acid should be applied to cleansed skin as part of a daily skincare routine. Here are some tips for application:
– Start with a 15% concentration and apply a pea sized amount to the entire face, neck and other affected areas.
– Use it in the morning as part of your regular skincare regime, after serum and before moisturizer and sunscreen.
– For the evening, apply it similarly after cleansing, toner and serum.
– Apply azelaic acid twice daily when starting to see faster results. Reduce to once a day for maintenance.
– Allow some time for the skin to adjust initially, as it may cause slight tingling. This side effect disappears once the skin gets used to it.
– Be consistent with application for at least 4-6 weeks to see visible results. Long term use provides best outcomes.
– Use a gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer and adequate sun protection along with it.
– Avoid use if skin is very sensitive until tolerance is established. Patch test first.
In summary, azelaic acid is a multifunctional skincare ingredient derived from grains that provides potent anti-acne, skin-lightening and anti-inflammatory benefits with minimal irritation. When used as part of a consistent daily routine, it can effectively treat acne, rosacea and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation to give the skin an overall clear and even appearance over time. Its many advantages make it an excellent choice for targeted skincare.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it