What is Azelaic Acid?
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in wheat, rye and barley. It is a saturated dicarboxylic acid which has the chemical formula C9H16O4. Azelaic acid has several medicinal and cosmetic uses owing to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and skin-lightening properties.
Uses of Azelaic Acid
Topical applications of azelaic acid help reduce acne breakouts by targeting the bacteria that causes acne such as Propionibacterium acnes and inhibiting keratinization within the pores. Studies have also shown it to be effective against inflammatory acne lesions like papules and pustules. By reducing inflammation and abnormal shedding of skin cells, regular use of azelaic acid creams and gels helps clear acne and prevents future breakouts.
Azelaic acid is also prescribed to treat rosacea, a very common skin condition that results in redness and pimples on the face. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation, flushing and pimples associated with rosacea. Regular use helps control outbreaks and flare-ups.
Some research also indicates that azelaic acid may help treat melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. Studies show it inhibits abnormal cell growth and triggers apoptosis or controlled cell death in melanoma cells. More research is still needed but azelaic acid could potentially serve as an additional treatment option alongside standard therapies like surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
As a Cosmetic Ingredient
Azelaic Acid is widely used in cosmetic formulations for its skin-lightening properties. It works by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for melanin production. By reducing melanin synthesis, topically applied azelaic acid helps fade darker patches, blemishes, freckles and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is a commonly listed active ingredient in facial creams, gels and serums aimed at skin brightening and evening out skin tone.
Another major benefit of azelaic acid in cosmetics is its ability to smooth skin texture. Regular application helps exfoliate dead skin cells, unclogs pores and refines skin texture over time. It also boosts skin renewal by stimulating collagen and elastin production. The combined effects of melanin inhibition, exfoliation and cell turnover give azelaic acid its skin lightening and anti-aging potential when used as a cosmetic ingredient.
Safety Profile of Azelaic Acid
A major advantage of azelaic acid compared to other acne treatments and skin lighteners is its robust safety profile. It is largely non-irritating and non-sensitizing even at higher concentrations between 15-20%. Side effects are usually mild and may include redness, stinging, burning or scaling upon initial application, especially in those with very sensitive skin. However, tolerance builds up rapidly with continued use.
Since azelaic acid is naturally derived and exhibits antibacterial properties, it does not induce antibiotic resistance over long-term topical use, unlike many acne medications. It also lacks the side effects of hydroquinone, a common skin-lightening agent known to cause exogenous ochronosis or darkening of skin upon prolonged use. Although research on long-term safety is still emerging, azelaic acid has a very good safety record after decades of clinical use.
Azelaic Acid Products and Formulations
Prescription creams and gels containing 15-20% concentration are available to treat acne and rosacea under various brand names like finacea, soolantra etc. Over-the-counter options with lower concentrations around 10-15%include brands like cosmetically elegant melazepam cream. Several cosmetic brands also launch azelaic acid serums around 5-10% for skin lightening and fading dark spots.
Some key formulations to look for include:
– Creams: Rich moisturizing creams containing 15-20% azelaic acid are best suited for acne-prone or sensitive skin. Examples include finacea gel and melazepam cream.
– Serums: Lightweight serums with 5-10% content absorb quickly and are suitable for all skin types. Popular brands are azclear serum and paula’s choice azelaic acid booster.
– Peels: Weekly azelaic acid peels above 20% give deeper exfoliation for skin renewal. Such medical-grade preparations require prescription.
– Facial Masks: Mask formulations enhance delivery of 5-15% azelaic acid to targeted areas and are convenient for at-home use. Example is azclear Azelaic Acid Facial Mask.
In summary, multiple formulations ensure there is an azelaic acid product suitable for individual skin concerns, from acne to pigmentation to anti-aging. Regular use delivers noticeable improvements safely and gradually over time.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it