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Understanding Azelaic Acid: Benefits, Usage, Side Effects, and Research Findings

Last updated: Aug 2023
In this article:

Azelaic Acid: A Guide to Understanding and Using It

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring substance that offers various benefits for the skin. It belongs to the class of compounds called dicarboxylic acids and is derived from grains like wheat and barley. With its multifaceted properties, azelaic acid has gained popularity in the skincare industry. Here is a specific guide to understanding and using azelaic acid.


  1. Treats acne: Azelaic acid has potent anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne breakouts. It also unclogs pores and inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
  2. Lightens hyperpigmentation: This acid inhibits an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for the production of melanin pigment. Regular use can help fade dark spots, uneven skin tone, and melasma.
  3. Controls rosacea: Azelaic acid can decrease the inflammation associated with rosacea, reducing the appearance of facial redness and flushing.
  4. Anti-aging effects: This compound acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that contribute to premature aging. It stimulates collagen production, improves skin elasticity, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How to Use:

  1. Choose the right concentration: Azelaic acid is available in various forms, including creams, gels, and serums. Start with a lower concentration (around 10%) and gradually increase if needed.
  2. Patch test: Before applying azelaic acid to your entire face, do a patch test on a small area to check for any adverse reactions.
  3. Cleanse and tone: Start with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and oil from your face. Follow with a toner to balance the skin's pH level.
  4. Apply azelaic acid: Take a pea-sized amount of the product and dot it onto your forehead, cheeks, chin, and nose. Gently massage it into the skin, avoiding the eye area.
  5. Moisturize and protect: Wait a few minutes for the product to absorb, then apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. Finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the daytime.


  • Azelaic acid may cause mild tingling or stinging initially. If irritation persists, discontinue use.
  • Consult a dermatologist if you have any underlying skin conditions or are using other topical medications.
  • Avoid using azelaic acid during pregnancy or breastfeeding unless approved by a healthcare professional.

Incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine can offer numerous benefits, leading to clearer, brighter, and healthier-looking skin.


Benefits of Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a versatile skincare ingredient that offers numerous benefits for various skin concerns. Here is a guide to understanding these benefits and incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine.

Treating Acne

  • Azelaic acid is highly effective in combating acne and reducing the appearance of pimples and blemishes.
  • It works by unclogging pores, reducing inflammation, and inhibiting the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
  • Apply a thin layer of azelaic acid gel or cream to the affected areas daily to experience clearer and healthier skin.

Brightening Hyperpigmentation

  • If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, such as dark spots, melasma, or post-inflammatory marks, azelaic acid can be a game-changer.
  • This ingredient inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for producing melanin, thereby reducing the appearance of dark spots and promoting a more even skin tone.
  • Apply azelaic acid to the affected areas twice daily for optimal results.

Minimizing Rosacea Symptoms

  • Rosacea is a chronic skin condition characterized by redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels.
  • Azelaic acid can help alleviate these symptoms by reducing inflammation and redness.
  • Incorporate an azelaic acid-based product into your daily skincare routine to control rosacea flare-ups and achieve a calmer complexion.

Anti-aging Properties

  • Don't underestimate the anti-aging effects of azelaic acid.
  • This ingredient has been found to promote collagen synthesis, which improves skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Additionally, azelaic acid protects the skin from free radicals and environmental damage, helping to maintain a youthful and radiant complexion.

Suitable for Sensitive Skin

  • Unlike some other powerful skincare ingredients, azelaic acid is generally well-tolerated by sensitive skin types.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and calm irritated skin without causing further sensitivity.
  • However, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine.

In summary, azelaic acid offers a range of benefits, including acne treatment, brightening hyperpigmentation, minimizing rosacea symptoms, anti-aging effects, and suitability for sensitive skin.

By understanding its advantages, you can make an informed decision about including azelaic acid in your skincare regimen and experience its transformative effects on your complexion.

Azelaic Acid: A Guide to Understanding its Skin Benefits

Azelaic acid is a popular ingredient in many skincare products, praised for its effectiveness in treating various skin concerns. If you're wondering how azelaic acid works and what it can do for your skin, read on for a detailed guide.

What is Azelaic Acid?

  • Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in grains like barley, wheat, and rye.
  • In skincare products, it is usually derived from these sources or synthesized in a lab.
  • It has been extensively studied for its numerous benefits on the skin.

How Does Azelaic Acid Work?

One of the primary ways azelaic acid works is by regulating the production of keratinocytes, the cells that make up the outermost layer of the skin. By controlling the growth of these cells, azelaic acid helps to prevent the formation of comedones, also known as clogged pores. This makes it particularly effective in treating acne.

Furthermore, azelaic acid has antimicrobial properties that target bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, which is associated with acne breakouts. It helps to reduce the population of these bacteria on the skin, leading to a decrease in inflammation and redness.

Another key benefit of azelaic acid is its ability to regulate hyperpigmentation. It controls the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin coloration, which can help fade dark spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In addition, azelaic acid has anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial for those with skin conditions like rosacea. It helps to calm irritation, reduce redness, and alleviate the discomfort associated with these conditions.

People with sensitive skin can also benefit from azelaic acid, as it is generally well tolerated and has a low risk of irritation. However, it is always advisable to patch test any new product before applying it to your entire face.

How to Incorporate Azelaic Acid Into Your Skincare Routine

When incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine, start by using it once or twice a week to allow your skin to adjust. Gradually increase the frequency over time as your skin becomes more accustomed to it.

The Versatile Benefits of Azelaic Acid

In conclusion, azelaic acid is a multitasking ingredient that can address a range of skincare concerns. From acne and hyperpigmentation to rosacea and sensitive skin, its versatile properties make it a valuable addition to any skincare regimen.

Guide: Potential Side Effects


When using certain medications or undergoing specific treatments, it is crucial to be aware of potential side effects. This guide aims to provide you with valuable information on common side effects, empowering you to make informed decisions about your health care.

1. Understanding Side Effects:

Side effects are undesirable effects that can occur while taking medication or undergoing treatment. They vary in severity and can impact physical or mental well-being. It is important to note that not everyone experiences side effects, and their occurrence depends on various factors including individual health, dosage, and treatment duration.

2. Types of Side Effects:

a. Common Side Effects:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep disturbances

b. Serious Side Effects:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe rash

3. Communicating with Your Healthcare Provider:

If you experience side effects, it is crucial to promptly notify your healthcare provider. Be prepared to provide details about the specific symptoms, their severity, and when they started. Your healthcare provider can determine whether the side effects are normal, require further monitoring, or necessitate a change in treatment.

4. Managing Side Effects:

a. Mild Side Effects:

  • Rest and hydration can alleviate some symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage headaches or aches.
  • Eating small meals and avoiding spicy or greasy foods may relieve nausea.

b. Severe or Persistent Side Effects:

  • Consult your healthcare provider immediately.
  • They can assess whether adjustments to dosage or treatment are necessary.
  • In some cases, they may recommend additional medications to alleviate side effects.

5. Prevention:

To minimize the risk of side effects:

  • Follow prescribed dosage and treatment duration.
  • Inform your healthcare provider about any existing medical conditions or medications.
  • Avoid alcohol or illicit drug consumption unless approved by your healthcare provider.


Being aware of potential side effects is essential for anyone undergoing medication or treatment. By understanding common side effects and how to manage or prevent them, you can actively participate in your healthcare journey and effectively communicate with your healthcare provider. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to safeguarding your health.

Forms and Concentrations of Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a versatile ingredient commonly used in skincare products due to its numerous benefits for the skin. Understanding the different forms and concentrations of azelaic acid is essential for selecting the appropriate product for your needs.

Forms of Azelaic Acid

  • Azelaic acid cream: nourishing and hydrating, suitable for dry or sensitive skin.
  • Azelaic acid gel: lighter texture, ideal for oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Both forms deliver the same benefits; it's a matter of personal preference.

Concentrations of Azelaic Acid

  • Common strengths range from 10% to 20%.
  • 10% concentration: generally well-tolerated and suitable for most skin types.
  • Starting with a lower concentration is recommended for sensitive skin.
  • 20% concentration: recommended for more significant results, but monitor skin's response for potential side effects.

Choosing the Right Azelaic Acid Product

When selecting an azelaic acid product, consider your skin type, concerns, and tolerance level. If you have sensitive skin or are new to azelaic acid, start with a lower concentration and gradually increase if needed. A higher concentration may be more effective for specific concerns if your skin can tolerate it.

Remember to patch test any new product, especially if you have sensitive skin. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and consult with a dermatologist if you have any doubts or concerns.

In Conclusion

Understanding the different forms and concentrations of azelaic acid is crucial for selecting the right skincare product for your needs. Consider your skin type, concerns, and tolerance level to make an informed decision. By incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine, you can enjoy the numerous benefits it offers for a healthier and more radiant complexion.

How to Use Azelaic Acid in Your Skincare Routine

Azelaic acid is a skincare ingredient that offers numerous benefits, including reducing acne, unclogging pores, and brightening the skin. If you're interested in incorporating azelaic acid into your skincare routine, here's a step-by-step guide on how to use it effectively:

1. Start with clean skin

  1. Before applying azelaic acid, cleanse your face using a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup residue.
  2. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel.

2. Apply a pea-sized amount

  1. Squeeze out a pea-sized amount of the product onto your fingertips. This tiny amount is sufficient to cover your entire face.

3. Spot treat or apply all over

  1. Depending on your skin concerns, you can either spot treat specific areas or apply the product all over your face.
  2. If you're targeting individual blemishes or hyperpigmentation, use your fingertips to gently massage the azelaic acid into these areas.
  3. For overall complexion improvement, rub the product into your entire face in upward circular motions.

4. Allow absorption time

  1. Let the azelaic acid absorb into your skin for about 10-15 minutes. During this time, you can move on to the next step in your skincare routine.

5. Moisturize

  1. To prevent any potential dryness or irritation, follow up with a moisturizer suited for your skin type.
  2. Applying a moisturizer also helps seal in the benefits of azelaic acid.

6. Use sun protection

  1. Azelaic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it's crucial to protect your skin with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
  2. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours, especially if you're spending extended periods outdoors.

7. Frequency of use

  1. When starting with azelaic acid, it's best to use it every other day or every third day to allow your skin to adjust.
  2. As your skin becomes accustomed to the ingredient, you can gradually increase the frequency of use to once or twice daily.

Remember, everyone's skin is unique, so it's essential to observe how your skin responds to azelaic acid. If you experience any irritation or discomfort, consider reducing the frequency of application or consulting a dermatologist for personalized advice.

Compatibility of Skincare Ingredients

Compatibility with other skincare ingredients is an important factor to consider when creating a skincare routine. Certain ingredients may work well together, while others may cause irritation or decrease the effectiveness of each other. To ensure optimal results, here is a guide on the compatibility of commonly used skincare ingredients:

Vitamin C and Niacinamide

Contrary to popular belief, these ingredients can be used together. However, using them simultaneously may cause irritation in some individuals. To avoid this, apply them at different times of the day or on alternate days.

Retinol and AHAs/BHAs

Both retinol and AHAs/BHAs are powerful exfoliants and can cause dryness and irritation. It is best to use them on different days to ensure skin does not become overly sensitive.

Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol

These two ingredients can cancel each other out when used together, leading to decreased effectiveness. If you need to use both, apply them at different times of the day or on alternate days.

Hyaluronic Acid and Facial Oils

Hyaluronic acid works best when applied to damp skin, as it helps to lock in moisture. If you prefer using facial oils, apply them after hyaluronic acid to prevent dilution of the product.

SPF and Moisturizer

While SPF is an essential step to protect your skin, using it on top of a heavy moisturizer can create a barrier and prevent optimal sun protection. To ensure maximum effectiveness, use a lightweight moisturizer underneath your SPF.

Vitamin C and Sunscreen

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect against free radicals and sun damage. Using it alongside SPF can enhance the overall effectiveness of sun protection.

By understanding the compatibility of skincare ingredients, you can create a routine that maximizes the benefits of each product. Always patch test new products before incorporating them into your routine, and consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns or specific skin conditions.

Guide to Research on Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a chemical compound that has gained significant attention in the field of dermatology due to its numerous beneficial effects on the skin. Researchers have conducted various studies to explore the possibilities and applications of this compound. If you are interested in conducting research on azelaic acid, here are some key steps to guide you:

Literature Review

Start by conducting a thorough literature review to gain a comprehensive understanding of the existing body of knowledge. Explore scientific databases, research journals, and academic papers to identify relevant studies and gather insights into the potential applications and benefits of azelaic acid.

Research Objective

Clearly define your research objective. Determine whether you want to investigate the effectiveness of azelaic acid in treating a specific skin condition, analyze its mechanism of action, or explore its potential side effects. Clearly stating your research question will help focus your study and provide a framework for your research design.

Research Design

Select an appropriate research design based on your research objective. For experimental studies, consider conducting in vitro or in vivo experiments to evaluate the effects of azelaic acid. If you are interested in observational research, consider conducting surveys or retrospective studies to gather data from patients or medical records.

Data Collection and Analysis

Define the variables you will be measuring or observing. Depending on your study design, you may need to collect data on patient characteristics, treatment protocols, and measured outcomes. Use appropriate statistical methods to analyze your data and draw meaningful conclusions. Consider consulting with a statistician to ensure the accuracy and validity of your results.

Ethical Considerations

Ensure that your research is conducted ethically. Obtain necessary approvals and permissions from relevant ethical review boards or institutional review boards. Protect the privacy and anonymity of participants by obtaining informed consent and adhering to data protection guidelines.

Publication and Dissemination

Once your research is complete, consider publishing your findings in peer-reviewed journals or presenting them at scientific conferences. This will allow your work to contribute to the existing body of knowledge and make it accessible to the wider scientific community.

Remember, conducting research on azelaic acid requires a thorough understanding of the compound, careful planning, and attention to ethical considerations. By following these steps, you can contribute valuable insights to the field and potentially pave the way for further discoveries in dermatology.


1. Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid derived from grains, such as barley and wheat, that has various skincare benefits.

2. It is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and redness, making it beneficial for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

3. Azelaic acid also helps to regulate the production of excess sebum, making it effective in treating acne and reducing the appearance of pore size.

4. It has been found to have skin-brightening properties, helping to fade hyperpigmentation and dark spots, resulting in a more even skin tone.

5. Azelaic acid can be used as an alternative to hydroquinone, a common skin-lightening ingredient, as it is effective in reducing the production of melanin.

6. Regular use of azelaic acid can improve the overall texture and appearance of the skin, leaving it smoother, clearer, and more radiant.