Have you heard of azelaic acid? If you’re like most consumers who are looking for the best skin care products, chances are you don’t know much about this ingredient. Derived from wheat and barley, azelaic acid has been used in a variety of skin care applications, including treatment of acne, brightening of hyperpigmentation, and promoting skin healing, among others. However, azelaic acid cream and other products with this chemical have the potential to cause a variety of side effects; from mild itching to a life threatening allergic reaction. This makes it imperative to speak with your doctor before using this ingredient, read azelaic acid cream reviews, and conduct a skin patch to ensure you are not allergic.
Azelaic Acid for Acne
One of the common uses for azelaic acid is in prescription acne products. It is believed that this ingredient has some effect on the skin shedding process and can reduce the number of dead cells that become stuck inside pores. In addition, this acid is thought to be effective for acne because of antibacterial properties.
Further, azelaic acid is thought to reduce inflammation, which can be very helpful for individuals with severe acne.
However, other acne fighting ingredients can be used as alternatives to azelaic acid. For example:
- Salicylic acid is effective for breaking down sebum and dirt in pores.
- Benzoyl peroxide removes excess oil and destroys bacteria through oxygenation.
- Sulfur can effectively reduce pimple size by drawing away excess oil.
- Glycolic acid is a prized anti acne ingredient because it is effective at cleansing pores.
- Retinol can be an effective alternative to azelaic acid, because it keeps the pores clean by making the skin shedding process more efficient.
Azelaic Acid for Hyperpigmentation
Another use for azelaic acid is to brighten dark spots on the face, neck, hands, and other parts of the body that have hyperpigmentation. These issues typically occur due to sun damage, which causes melanin pigment to cluster into spots of various sizes.
However, some consumers have expressed frustration in their reviews of azelaic acid cream. Many suggest that the product was simply not effective, even with long term use. This is likely the result of using creams with low concentrations of this ingredient, or having excessive hyperpigmentation.
In addition to azelaic acid, there are several other ingredients that can effectively address hyperpigmentation. For example, hydroquinone is an effective skin lightener, as are kojic acid and exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids.
For some consumers, however, neither azelaic acid cream nor any other ingredient will be effective for hyperpigmentation. Instead, severe cases may need to be addressed with professional skin care treatments like laser skin resurfacing and aggressive chemical peels.
Azelaic Acid for Skin Damage
In addition to treating hyperpigmentation and acne, azelaic acid is also thought to address general skin damage due to its antioxidant properties. As such, creams with low concentration of this chemical may be a possible solutions for individuals who are looking for additional antioxidants in their skin care routine.
Besides azelaic acid, other antioxidants include ingredients like vitamins C and E, green tea, lycopene and niacinamide.
Why is Azelaic Acid Under the Radar?
So if azelaic acid can be so effective for a variety of skin concerns, why don’t more people know about it? Why are salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide household names, while this ingredient is so obscure?
One of the reasons why azelaic acid isn’t discussed more often can be attributed to effective concentrations. For example, although prescription azelaic acid can show meaningful results due to high concentrations of this chemical, over the counter products may not be potent enough to produce visible results quickly. And because the average consumer does not have the time (or sometimes money) to visit a doctor for a prescription, azelaic acid remains obscure.
Another reason why this chemical doesn’t receive more attention can be attributed to its image as a jack of all trades. When a chemical shows promise in addressing a variety of skin concerns, it can sometimes be viewed by skin care experts as being too broad. Hence, instead of suggesting azelaic acid cream, many clinicians and professionals may default to more targeted ingredients, like retinol or hydroquinone.
Azelaic Acid Side Effects
The potential side effects from azelaic acid cream will depend on the concentration of the cream. Over the counter products are less likely to cause an adverse reaction, as opposed to the stronger prescription creams.
Some of the side effects of azelaic acid include a sensation of burning and stinging on the skin. Redness and skin drying are also possible side effects that should be monitored closely. Allergic reaction, like difficulty breathing or hives, is also a possibility with this ingredient.
Those who are planning to use creams with this ingredient on a long term basis should be especially vigilant about side effects like irritation, inflammation and dryness, as all of these can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.
To reduce chances of serious side effects, it’s advisable to use azelaic acid products under the guidance of a dermatologist or primary care physician.