Azelaic acid is one of the ingredients used in skin treatment products, such as those used when treating mild or moderate acne.
The compound occurs naturally in wheat, barley and rye. While it commercially exists as a white powder, it can also be found as an over-the-counter cream, gel or foam.
So, what are the benefits of azelaic acid? Here’s insight on how to benefit and use it for treating hair loss, anti-aging, hyperpigmentation and acne.
What is Azelaic acid?
Azelaic acid is also known as Heptanedicarboxylic acid. The acid is naturally present on your skin, but can also be obtained from other sources such as barley, wheat, and rye. Its basic benefits are many, including the following:
- Clearing lesions and bumps
- Treating swelling brought about by rosacea.
- Azelaic cream is for instance used in the treatment of pimples, which may have been caused by an outbreak of acne.
- It does this by killing bacterium that infect your skin pores causing inflammation and acne.
- It also helps in reducing keratin production.
In the case of rosacea, it works to treat this skin disease by reducing the redness and swelling present on your skin surface.
The compound is in a class of certain medications that are known as dicarboxylic acids.
Azelaic acid products
The acid can be found in a number of products as discussed below:
1. Azelaic acid cream
Being a natural antibacterial agent, the acid is ideal for dealing with acne related cases. When applied topically as a cream, it works to eliminate acne by:
- Reducing bacterial growth in skin follicles
- Removal of dead skin cells
- Assists in reducing inflammation
The cream therefore aids in preventing future acne flare-ups. The cream can be used on any kind of skin, including on sensitive skins because it possesses the ability to do away with inflammation.
It is ideal for handling mild to moderate acne cases. Before you can start using the cream, you should check the labeling to determine whether you are sensitive to any of the components that have been used.
Who cannot use the cream?
There are certain medical conditions that can cause reactions when products containing this acid are used. You should inform your pharmacist or doctor in case you have a medical condition, especially if the following conditions apply to you:
- If you are currently planning to get pregnant, are pregnant, or if you are currently breastfeeding.
- You are taking dietary supplements, herbal preparations, prescription or non-prescription medication.
- In case you are allergic to any foods, medications, or any additional substances
- Have a cold sore or a have a history of asthma.
Even though the cream is not absorbed into your blood stream, there is always a chance that it could interact with other medicines that you could be taking. It is the reason you need to consult your doctor or pharmacist before you can start using this cream.
How to use azelaic acid cream
You should always use the cream or gel as directed by the pharmacist or the doctor. Additionally, you should check the label that comes with the product to get the right dosing instructions.
- Prior to applying this cream, wash the affected region using soap and water.
- Rinse using warm water, and then pat it dry using a soft cotton towel.
- Cover this entire area with a thin coat of the gel and rub it all over the area until it is evenly distributed.
- Allow it enough time for it to dry.
It is always important to use some safety measures when using such chemical compounds, First, ensure you clean your hands before and after you have applied the azelaic acid cream.
Second, you should not cover the area with a bandage or gauze unless you have been instructed to do so by your physician
You need to continue using the azelaic acid cream for the entire duration of your treatment, even if you notice an improvement in your condition. Also, make certain that you will not miss even a single dose.
It is important to exercise patience, as it may take up to four weeks for this treatment to start working. If you do not notice any change within this period, or if the symptoms begin to worsen, make sure to check in with the issuing doctor or pharmacist.
Azelaic acid gel
Azelaic acid gel is frequently used in treating lesions owing to mild or moderate rosacea. Additionally, it is a topical antibacterial agent and should be used as per the instructions provided. Ensure that you do not attempt to use this gel if you are allergic to certain ingredients in it such as propylene glycol.
This acid should only be used externally, and you must, therefore, ensure that it does not come into contact with your mouth, vagina, nose, or eyes.
- If it gets into any of the areas mentioned above, rinse the area using plenty of water. In case of any irritation, get in touch with your doctor.
- It is recommended that you limit your use of topical products as they may worsen your condition
- After application, allow the area to dry and then apply makeup
3. Minoxidil 10 azelaic acid 5 cream
Minoxidil 10 is a hair growth solution that contains Heptanedicarboxylic acid and is designed to show results within the shortest time possible espcially with consistent use.
The product contains additional ingredients such as caffeine and retinol and is purposely targeted at men who have tried other solutions but have not been able to get the results they desired.
Over the years, Minoxidil has been tried and tested and has been seen to assist in stimulating hair growth by opening up the potassium channels as well as stimulating the flow of blood in the scalp.
Research has also shown that increased concentrations of Minoxidil are very effective when it comes to promoting faster and thicker hair.
But, you should be warned that 10% Minoxidil is not for everyone as it rapidly increases your hair. You should, therefore, carry out proper research before attempting to use this product.
Uses and benefits
The compound is derived from barley and wheat. These two plants have over the years been used in very many skin care applications e.g. those treating acne, promoting skin healing, hyper pigmentation, skin lightening, among very many other purposes.
However, this acid, together with products that contain it may come with a number of side effects ranging from mild itchiness to life-threatening allergic responses.
You should therefore consult your pharmacist or doctor before you can start using this ingredient on your skin.
Additionally, you can go a step further and read the azelaic acid reviews available on various online stores to be sure that it is the right acne or hyperpigmentation treatment product for you.
You can use this acid or products that contain it e.g. gels to brighten up those dark spots that are present on your hands, neck, and even on the face.
These are issues that are typically brought about by sun damage that causes melanin pigments to begin clustering into spots that have varying sizes.
Even though the gels have been seen to be effective, there are customers that have provided frustrating reviews, as the gels did not work for them, even after using them for months.
Most customers suggested that the product was not effective. It is something that can be attributed to using gels and creams that have very low concentrations of this chemical, or if the users had excessive pigmentation.
One of the primary uses of this chemical is in prescription creams for acne. Many believe that this product has a certain type of effect on the process of skin shedding and that it has the ability to reduce the number of dead skin cells that are stuck inside the pores.
An additional reason why it is alleged to be an excellent remedy for acne is that it contains antibacterial
The chemical compound in it is believed to be able to reduce inflammation, which is something that can be of help to those that have a severe case of acne.
Treating hair loss
Testimonies on this acid and its products show that it can assist in preventing hair loss—especially when they are used together with other products e.g. saw palmetto berry extract. Once combined, this mixture is then applied to your scalp.
According to a new study by the Department of Dermatology at Kahramanmaras Sutcuimam Turkish University, products with this chemical have a higher efficiency rate in treating patchy alopecia areata as compared to anthralin.
How does it help in stopping hair loss?
The chemical is deemed to be an effective antimicrobial and antifungal compound. Given that male pattern baldness is at times brought about by fungal infections, the acid can assist in reversing these symptoms by killing all the parasites that may be seen to interfere with proper hair follicle nutrition.
According to the Medical Society in Massachusetts, inflammation is another known factor that contributes to male pattern baldness. This acid contains anti-inflammatory properties that target the inflammation sources, gradually alleviating the inflammation through the release of histamines.
As early as 2009, scientists already had an idea that this chemical compound could be used in healing rosacea, but they did not have a good idea of why this was the case.
Traditionally, rosacea has always been viewed as a vascular disorder that led to thickening and reddening of a person’s skin surface due to rupture of the tiny blood vessels that are found in the skin.
Now, scholars have been able to confirm that the condition can also be categorized as an immune disorder. This is where neutrophils (a grouping of white blood cells) are responsible for the changes taking place in your blood vessels.
The acid is able to heal rosacea by neutralizing free oxygen radicals that get released when your membrane is exposed to the sun’s UV rays to cause rosacea, but not enough to trigger a sunburn.
The chemical functions by correcting problems that may have been caused by the shortage of good and healthy fatty acids on the skin surface.
Additionally, it also reduces your skin’s reactivity to the presence of additional organisms that could be looking to infest your skin surface. It is able to do many of the functions handled by antibiotics, without having to attack any bacteria.
Conferring to a study published in 2013 by the Experimental Dermatology, Vol. 22, the acid has anti-aging benefits, as it works by counteracting senescence, the stress-induced premature cell.
When used in this premature cell in a recent study, researchers were able to notice a reduction in the number of reactive oxygen species, the up-modulation of the antioxidation enzymes, as well as the reduction of damage to the cell membrane lipid.
Can you buy azelaic acid over the counter (OTC)?
Heptanedicarboxylic acid can be obtained at the local drugstores both with and without the prescription from your physician.
The strength of the prescription will frequently vary on the versions of the acid that one wants to purchase.
For an azelaic acid product that has a concentration of between fifteen and twenty percent, one will be required to obtain a prescription. Normally, the formulas you will find being sold over the counter have a concentration of around 10%.
- The Dermatology Review. (2017). Azelaic Acid: http://www.thedermreview.com/azelaic-acid/
- (2016). Azelaic Acid Topical: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a603020.html