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Azelaic Acid



Azelaic acid gel is used to treat the bumps, an area of abnormal tissue change (lesions), and swelling caused by rosacea (a skin disease that causes redness, flushing, and pimples on the face). Azelaic acid cream is used to treat pimples (acne).

How it works

Azelaic acid belongs to a class of drugs called dicarboxylic acids. It works to treat pimples by killing the bacteria that cause infection of skin pores and by decreasing production of keratin, a natural substance that can lead to the development of pimples. The way Azelaic acid works to treat rosacea is not known.

Common side effects

Application site tingling, Burning sensation, Itching, Skin rash, Stinging sensation


Expert advice

  • If you have a sensitive skin, you should apply Azelaic acid only once a day for the first week of treatment and then proceed to twice daily applications.
  • You should not use Azelaic acid for more than 12 months at any time.
  • Before applying the cream/gel, clean the skin thoroughly with plain water and make it dry.
  • Azelaic acid is for external use on the skin only. You should not allow Azelaic acid to come into contact with your eyes, mouth or other inner skin layer (mucous membranes). If it does, wash immediately with large amounts of cool water.
  • Use Azelaic acid with caution if you have asthma, as worsening of symptoms has been reported.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions

Azelaic Acid

Q. Is azelaic acid over the counter?
Yes. azelaic acid is an over the counter drug.
Q. Is azelaic acid an AHA/ retinoid/ antibiotic/ DHT blocker/ steroid?
Azelaic acid is not an AHA/retinoid/antibiotic/steroid. Azelaic acid may be a potent inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase which in turn decreases the levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). 
However, please follow your doctor's advice regarding its use.
Q. Does azelaic acid work for wrinkles/ melasma/hair loss/redness/to get lighter skin?
Azelaic acid mainly used to treat pimples and no other skin conditions.
Q. Does azelaic acid exfoliate?
There is not much evidence found for Azelaic acid exfoliating dead skin.
Q. Does azelaic acid bleach clothes?
No. Azelaic acid does not bleach clothes.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)