Azelaic acid can be found in a number of both prescription and over-the-counter skin care formulations, but is it right for you? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of azelaic acid to treat skin conditions.
Azelaic acid is found in a certain type of yeast found on normal skin, and it has a number of benefits for various skin conditions. Azelaic acid formulas with concentrations of 10% or less can be found in many over-the-counter skincare and beauty products. Over-the-counter azelaic acid products may be an effective treatment for blackheads or simply to brighten complexion.
Prescription-strength azelaic acid treatment plans, on the other hand, can decrease keratin production and improve skin shedding, which can benefit those who have acne. Azelaic acid can also be effective for treating rosacea due to its anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and redness.
At higher doses of 15-20%, azelaic acid is also an effective treatment that helps clear up dark spots from melasma or hyperpigmentation. It works by inhibiting free radicals as well as tyrosinase, an enzyme necessary for the production of melanin.
The resulting lightening effects of topical azelaic acid treatments target only abnormal melanocytes, meaning that it can lighten dark spots without affecting surrounding skin. A 24-week study of a 20% concentration therapy showed it effectively reduced the appearance of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation with temporary and mild side effects (Davis).
One of the benefits of azelaic acid topical treatments is that they are available in many forms, including gels, creams, and foams. Azelaic acid may be prescribed as a monotherapy, or in combination with other therapies to treat hyperpigmentation or melasma. Glycolic acid or retinoids are frequently prescribed with azelaic acid for faster results.
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