Skeletal formula of azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is an antibacterial antioxidant that soothes irritations in the skin and helps to control sebum production. 

It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it effective in the treatment of skin conditions like acne and rosacea. The acid can prevent future outbreaks and clean bacteria from your pores that causes acne.

Because it takes some time to take effect, azelaic acid by itself isn’t typically a dermatologist’s first choice for treating acne. The acid also has some side effects, such as skin burning, dryness, and peeling. 

Azelaic acid is applied to your skin and is available in gel, foam, and cream form. 

Azelaic acid for acne scars

Some people use azelaic to treat acne scarring in addition to active outbreaks. Azelaic acid encourages cell turnover, which is a way to reduce how severe scarring appears.

It also prevents what’s known as melanin synthesis, the ability of your skin to produce pigments that can vary your skin’s tone.

If you’ve tried other topical medications to help with scarring or blemishes that’re slow to heal, azelaic acid might help. More research is needed to understand who this treatment works best for and how effective it can be.

Azelaic acid for skin lightening and hyperpigmentation

After a breakout, inflammation can result in hyperpigmentation on some areas of your skin. Azelaic acid stops discolored skin cells from populating.

azelaic acid compares with other treatments

Azelaic acid isn’t for everyone. The effectiveness of the treatment may depend on your:

  • symptoms
  • skin type
  • expectations

Since it works slowly, azelaic acid is often prescribed along with other forms of acne treatment.

According to older research, azelaic acid cream may be as effective as benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin (Retin-A) for the treatment of acne. While azelaic acid results are similar to those of benzoyl peroxide, it’s also more expensive.

Azelaic acid also works more gently than alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid.

While these other acids are strong enough to be used on their own in chemical peels, azelaic acid isn’t. This means that while azelaic acid is less likely to irritate your skin, it also has to be used consistently and given time to take effect.