Azelaic acid is available as a cream or gel that is spread
on your skin.
How It Works
Azelaic acid is a natural material that
kills bacteria in the skin. It can help clear and prevent
acne that is caused by bacteria.
Why It Is Used
Doctors prescribe azelaic acid in a
cream form to help clear up acne and prevent new outbreaks. This medicine kills
bacteria and reduces acne inflammation.
How Well It Works
Azelaic acid works well in mild to
moderate outbreaks of acne by killing bacteria. But it doesn't work well for
acne that isn't infected with bacteria. Studies show that azelaic acid works as
well as other creams (such as benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, and
antibiotics).1 It takes 1 to 2 months after you start
applying the cream for acne lesions to start disappearing.
Azelaic acid can cause burning, stinging,
dry skin, and redness. Try to keep the cream off skin areas that don't have
acne. Wash your hands after you apply the cream. Also, keep azelaic acid away
from the eyes, mouth, and inside the nose.
See Drug Reference for
a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all
What To Think About
Azelaic acid may work to treat acne
in some people. But if your acne doesn't start to clear up after a couple of
months, your doctor will most likely have you try another medicine.
Azelaic acid reduces the amount of pigment in skin and so can be useful
for people who have acne that leaves brown marks when it heals.2
This product is not approved to treat children
younger than 12.
Thiboutot D (2008). Versatility of azelaic acid 15%
gel in treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 7(1): 13–16.
Zaenglein AL, et al. (2008). Acne vulgaris and
acneiform eruptions. In K Wolff et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed., vol. 1, pp. 690–703. New York:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.