When you ask your dermatologist about various skincare treatments you often get recommendations for Vitamin C serums, treatments with salicylic acid (especially for acne-prone skin), retinol (for wrinkles and pigmentation), and hyaluronic acid for boosting collagen production.
However, there is another type of treatment that’s just as effective for skin care routine but doesn’t get as much hype. This type of treatment is based on azelaic acid, a compound found in barley, rye, and wheat.
According to recent studies, azelaic acid has a soothing effect on inflamed skin and can help treat rosacea and acne. It is also beneficial in the treatment of melasma and sunspots (due to sun exposure without a proper sunscreen).
How Does Azelaic Acid Work on Skin?
When applied topically, azelaic acid has an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect as it can clean bacteria that live in the pores and lead to acne or rosacea. Plus, treatment with an azelaic acid product (most commonly available in gel, foam, and cream form) can prevent future outbreaks.
However, because it doesn’t have an immediate effect, dermatologists don’t usually prescribe these products alone. Plus, there are some side effects such as peeling, dryness, and even skin burning.
Azelaic Acid Treats Specific Skin Conditions
Besides acne and rosacea (mentioned above), dermatologists tend to recommend azelaic acid for hyperpigmentation and skin lightening. This is because this acid encourages cell turnover, which is the skin’s ability to renew itself.
The idea is that, due to this effect, the skin heals faster which reduces scarring caused by acne or rosacea. So, you have a two-in-one type of action: azelaic acid treats acne while also evening out any hyperpigmentation triggered by it.
Furthermore, the same properties make azelaic acid products extremely useful for skin-lightening treatments, if you have melanin discolorations. However, the efficiency of these treatments depends on the type of treatment you’re using.
Most over-the-counter products contain small amounts of azelaic acid (under 15%) and only prescription treatments have higher concentrations. So if you don’t see an improvement with your current treatment, it’s best to visit a dermatologist.
How to Use Azelaic Acid on Your Skin
As we already mentioned, most products that contain azelaic acid are in foam, cream, or gel form. But, regardless of the type of product, these are the steps you need to follow for a correct application:
- Wash the skin with warm water and a mild cleanser to remove any impurities or oiliness in the area. Pat dry.
- Wash your hands with soap before applying the product.
- Take a pea-size amount or smaller and gently rub on the affected area (not the entire face!). Let it dry and continue your regular routine plus cosmetics.
It’s important to avoid using any astringent cleansers or soaps that strip the skin of oils to avoid further drying the skin in the treated area. Also, you have to be patient, since it takes about one to two months for the skin cells to renew and push aside the old ones.
Azelaic acid is, in most cases, beneficial for acne-prone skin that also has hyperpigmentation. However, there can be side effects such as peeling, dry skin, or irritation.
While these effects are to be expected during the first few days of using such a product, if they persist, it’s best to stop using it and talk to your dermatologist.
Also, it’s important to continue your skincare routine (here are a few tips on how to deal with dry skin) during the treatment and always wear SPF during the day – even if you’re staying inside!
Keep being AllDayChic!