Using azelaic acid for skin is highly beneficial in a variety of ways. However, it is important to understand the risks before using this product. Here are some tips to help you make informed decisions.
What Is Azelaic Acid For Skin Care
Known as dicarboxylic acid, azelaic acid is a chemical compound – a milder exfoliant than glycolic acid.
Azelaic acid is a skin multitasker:
- It helps unclog pores and inhibits the growth of skin bacteria;
- It works by limiting the production of keratin, a skin cell that can block pores and sebaceous glands;
- It also helps speed up the rate of cell turnover.
Azelaic acid can be found in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription skin care products. OTC products are available in a variety of forms including foam, gel, and cream. These are typically applied to the face and neck after cleansing your face or after applying a light moisturizing product.
- Inflammatory hyperpigmentation;
- Melasma (a skin condition that is associated with excessive exposure to the sun);
- Dark spots.
Azelaic acid is commonly used to treat comedonal acne or acne that is associated with the formation of blackheads. Azelaic acid is also used to treat acne scarring. It can help speed up the healing process and reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Is Azelaic Acid Safe For Skin?
Azelaic acid is a generally safe, natural substance (it is derived from grains).
Usually, azelaic acid is safe even for sensitive skin, but it can cause mild itchiness. It should be used as recommended by a dermatologist.
Note: if irritation occurs, stop using the product. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives and swelling. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
However, allergic reactions should be rare. Several studies have shown that azelaic acid for skin is safe to use topically. But just to be sure, use it slowly, gradually, and with caution.
How To Use Azelaic Acid For Skin
If you were prescribed azelaic acid for skin by your derm:
Your dermatologist will recommend the best azelaic acid product type for your skin. The most popular is an azelaic acid gel, but there are also creams, cleansers, and toners that contain it. If your doctor provided you with a specific azelaic acid regime, follow their instructions for the best results.
If you are trying out an azelaic acid product yourself:
Introduce this acid in your skincare routine slowly to avoid a skin reaction. The azelaic acid product should be applied to clean, dry skin or after a lightweight moisturizer (like a hyaluronic acid serum). It should be used at least once a day, and it should be applied in a pea or marble-sized amount. After it has been applied, it is best to follow with a hydrating moisturizer.
Note: some dermatologists suggest using azelaic acid after a moisturizer because it can further reduce any chance of irritation. If you notice that azelaic acid is too drying for you, try this method.
6 Benefits Of Using Azelaic Acid For Skin
As mentioned before, the biggest benefit of using azelaic acid for skin is its ability to treat a variety of skin conditions. But there’s so much more to azelaic acid than just medicinal properties. Let’s take a look.
1. Azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce swelling, skin reactivity, and skin sensitivity.
2. In addition, azelaic acid is great for closed comedones, pimples, and whiteheads since it works to unclog pores. This prevents future breakouts and keeps your skin looking clear. Azelaic acid works best when used in conjunction with other gentle active ingredients. Skip the harsher acids (like glycolic acid or salicylic acid) though – it can be too much for your delicate skin when you are treating your skin with azelaic acid already.
3. Azelaic acid is a great treatment for hyperpigmentation – which means it can help your skin to look brighter and lighter. Azelaic acid works by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is responsible for the production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that makes up your skin and shows up as dark patches on the skin.
4. Azelaic acid is also an antibacterial and works to fight bacteria that are a primary cause of breakouts. Moreover, it can also help to reduce excess sebum production. This makes it perfect for oily skin.
5. Azelaic acid is easily accessible – it can be found in drugstores, cosmetic stores and can be purchased over the counter. However, it is smart to consult with your dermatologist before using this acid on your skin. Some people may experience a stinging sensation, redness, or peeling, so it’s important to choose the right product for your skin.
6. Say goodbye to redness – azelaic acid is very effective in treating rosacea and anything related to facial redness. Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes visible blood vessels, bumps, and lesions. It is caused by genetics, but can also be caused by hormonal fluctuations. Azelaic acid helps to treat rosacea by targeting the bacteria and inflammation that cause this condition.
How Derms Are Using Azelaic Acid For Skin Diseases
Whether you have rosacea or acne, azelaic acid can be an effective treatment for your skin. Azelaic acid is usually safe to use in conjunction with other acne medications too, but that’s not all. Here’s why derms choose azelaic acid for skin treatments or a substitution for various skin condition regimes.
- Azelaic acid is a keratolytic (a substance that dissolves old skin cells). However, azelaic acid is a milder alternative to other acne treatments, such as salicylic acid or retinol.
- Azelaic acid has little to no toxicity, which makes it safer than topical retinoids.
- While azelaic acid is an effective treatment for acne, it is a slow-working acid. Some people see a reduction in acne after a week or two, but it may take up to a month or more for full results. A slower working time means less irritation.
What To Know Before Using Azelaic Acid For Skin
Despite the popularity of azelaic acid for skin, there are some things to consider before using it. This includes knowing when and how to use it.
1. Azelaic acid is not to be used on the eyes or lips, or internally.
2. Azelaic acid is considered to be safe to use for pregnant women, but you should always consult your doctor before using any topical medication on your skin. You should also be careful if you are nursing.
3. Those who are allergic to azelaic acid should not use it (of course).
4. When treating your skin with azelaic acid on a daily basis, sunscreen is a must. This is especially reasonable for people who are sun-sensitive. The American Dermatology Association recommends applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
5. It’s best to test any new product on a small patch of skin before using it on your whole face in your skincare routine.
6. It may take some time to adjust to using azelaic acid.
7. If you have acne-prone skin, you may need to use a product with a higher percentage of azelaic acid, but on alternate days. Your doctor may also recommend a more concentrated prescription product.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Azelaic Acid For Skin
Is It Okay To Use Azelaic Acid Every Day?
It is safe to use azelaic acid for skin twice a day, but if it turns out to be a bit drying for you, even once a day will give you the benefits of this helpful skin care acid. Common azelaic acid formulations are usually no more than 10%, so anything up to that is your safest choice for everyday use.
How Long Does It Take For Azelaic Acid To Clear Skin?
If you are using azelaic acid for skin that battles rosacea or acne, expect to wait for results for at least 6-8 weeks. This is how much time it takes for your skin to calm down and your pores to get clean. However, anecdotal experience reports that many users feel inflammation relief as soon as several days after starting their azelaic acid treatment.
Can Azelaic Acid Be Used Long Term?
Studies on azelaic acid show that there’s very little chance of any allergic reaction when azelaic acid is used continuously (at least when it is used for acne treatments).
Will Azelaic Acid Lighten Skin?
Azelaic acid works as a gentle exfoliator, which means it can give you a brighter, cleaner complexion. It can help you to get rid of dark acne scars and even out your skin tone too. However, azelaic acid is not powerful enough to depigment freckles and various sun spots.
Now that we know how effective azelaic acid is, let’s sum up the key points:
- Using azelaic acid for acne may help reduce acne scars, and may also reduce PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
- Azelaic acid has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the inflammation of inflamed acne, rosacea, and similar skin troubles.
- Using azelaic acid for skin can come with some side effects. Most of these side effects are mild. If you experience any severe or unusual reactions, you should speak to your doctor.
- Azelaic acid may be used as a topical treatment to decrease melanin, which is the pigment in skin that causes dark spots.
- When used on the skin, azelaic acid helps to speed up the cell turnover rate, preventing acne and blackheads from developing.
- Azelaic acid is usually used twice or once daily. Apply it on the affected area of your skin, and then follow up with a moisturizer. If it feels drying, try applying it after your moisturizer.
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