All About Azelaic Acid
When you think of acne-fighting heroes, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, probably come to mind. But there’s another ingredient worth getting to know, azelaic acid. We asked NYC-based skin expert Dr. Manuel Valdebran, to give us The Skiny on azelaic acid.
What is azelaic acid?
Azelaic acid is an aliphatic dicarboxylic acid which has been out in the market since 1989. Azelaic acid is naturally found in wheat, rye, barley, oat seeds and sorghum. It is also produced naturally by the genus Malassezia, a yeast responsible for a skin condition called tinea versicolor.
Which skincare products can azelaic acid be found in?
Azelaic acid can be found in topicals such as gels, creams and foams and also as cleansers.
How does it work?
Recent publications have shown that azelaic acid have beneficial properties which not only include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects but it also intervenes slowing down the cell turnover of skin cells and interfering with the sebum secretion.
What can I expect?
You can expect a reduction of noninflammatory comedones (whiteheads) and in inflammatory papules and pustules (pimples).
What other uses does it have?
Azelaic acid has been used as a depigmenting agent for the treatment of melasma and recently has been proposed also for the treatment of rosacea.
Can I combine it with other anti-acne medications?
Yes, combination of products usually get better results.
Does it have side effects?
Actually there is a study that came just a couple of months ago, which shows the excellent tolerability of azelaic acid, however, some of the most common reported side effects include erythema, dryness, scaling, stinging/burning and pruritus.
How does azelaic rank against salicylic and benzoyl peroxide?
That’s a good question, at the moment, I can say that the role of azelaic acid is promising as it combines the purifying effect of salicylic acid which clears up the skin pores and the antibacterial effect of benzoyl peroxide.
What inspired you to study skin?
The study of the skin has been my passion since I was a teenager. I actually suffered acne requiring me to visit the dermatologist office. During those years I experienced first hand how acne products worked and the office-based procedures available. It’s amazing how skin shows complex processes hidden to the naked eye, from sun spots and wrinkles to acne, eczema, psoriasis and skin cancer, skin tells us a lot of what is happening inside.
It is also great we have different alternatives and procedures to diagnose and treat skin conditions and finally we have the opportunity and the challenge to educate people about their skin, coach them about the different treatment options and do prevention especially for skin cancer.
About The Expert Manuel Valdebran, M.D. is doing a fellowship at the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New York, NY.