Azelaic acid is a natural material produced by a yeast that lives on normal skin, Malassezia furfur (also known as Pityrosporum ovale).
In New Zealand, azelaic acid is available at a concentration of 20% as Skinoren™ Cream, Acne-Derm™ Medicated Lotion and Azclear Action Medicated Lotion.
Azelaic acid is:
- Antibacterial - it reduces the growth of bacteria in the follicle (Proprionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis)
- Keratolytic & comedolytic - it returns to normal the disordered growth of the skin cells lining the follicle
- A scavenger of free radicals - i.e. it reduces inflammation.
Azelaic acid also helps reduce pigmentation, so it's particularly useful for darker skinned patients whose acne spots leave persistent brown marks or who have melasma.
The cream should be applied to the area affected by acne initially daily, then if tolerated building up to a generous twice-daily application after thoroughly cleansing the skin.
Acne responds slowly to treatment. Some improvement should be seen after one month of using azelaic acid cream. Further improvement should occur with maximum results after six months' continuous use. Treatment may be continued safely for months or years if the acne remains active.
Azelaic acid is nontoxic and is well tolerated by most subjects. However, those with very sensitive skin or who suffer from eczema, may find it irritating to apply, resulting in a mild irritant dermatitis.
Discontinue applying the cream and seek medical advice if you develop severe:
Azelaic acid does not result in:
- Bacterial resistance to antibiotics
- Reduction in sebum production
- Photosensitivity (easy sunburn)
- Staining of skin or clothing
- Bleaching of normal skin or clothing
Although not registered in New Zealand for other skin disorders, azelaic acid cream may also be useful in the treatment of: