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Azelaic Acid

Azalaic acid is also called 1,9-nonanedioate, AZA or azelex. It is a 9 carbon dicarboxylic acid that occurs naturally in whole grain cereals, barley, rye and is also produced by Malassezia furfur, a species of fungi, which is generally found on the skin of humans. On a large scale, it is prepared by the ozonolysis of oleic acid. It has antibacterial, keratolytic, comedolytic and anti-oxidant properties. Owing to these properties, it is used in the treatment of various skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.

Chemical Structure

Its chemical formula is C9H16O4. It shows that it is made of 9 carbon atoms, 16 hydrogen atoms and 4 atoms of oxygen.

Azelaic Acid

Properties of Azelaic Acid

  • Its molecular weight is 188.223 g/mol.
  • Its melting point ranges from 109 to 111 degrees Celsius.
  • Its boiling point is 286 degrees Celsius.
  • Its density is 1.443 g/mL
  • It is slightly soluble in benzene and ethyl ether, however, it is soluble in organic solvents, alcohols and water. Its solubility in water is 2.14 g/L.
  • It appears as a white solid.
  • Its refractive index is 1.4303 at a temperature of 111 degrees Celsius.

How does azelaic acid benefit the skin?

It removes bacteria from skin pores, which may be causing irritation. It also reduces inflammation which makes acne less visible and less red. Further, it promotes cell turnover that allows your skin to heal quickly and thus also minimizes scars.


Azelaic acid is available in the form of gel, foam and cream. All types are used in a similar way as described below:

  • Wash the affected area gently with warm water. You can also use mild soap, cleanser, etc.
  • Hands should be washed before applying the medication
  • Now apply and rub the required amount of medication to the affected area
  • Let the area dry afterwards you can apply cosmetics
  • No need to bandage the treated area

Uses of Azelaic Acid

  • It helps prevent hyperpigmentation on your skin caused by inflammation. It also keeps discoloured skin from spreading.
  • It also helps lighten skin, which is discoloured by melanin and also helps cure mild acne.
  • It can be used for the treatment of the symptoms of rosacea: a chronic skin disease. It has been found in clinical studies that it can treat the swelling and visible blood vessels symptoms of rosacea.
  • It is also used as a thickening agent in polymer industries.
  • It is required in the preparation of adhesives, lubricants, plasticizers, and more.
  • It also plays a role in the prevention of microbial cellular protein synthesis.

Further, in plants, it acts as a distress flare as it plays a role in the defence response after an infection in a plant. For example, it stimulates the accumulation of salicylic acid, which is an important part of a plant's defence mechanism against infection.

Mechanism of Action

The accurate mechanism of action of this acid is not known. It is believed that its antibacterial properties are owing to its ability to inhibit the synthesis of cellular protein in aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. In aerobic bacteria, it reversibly prevents various oxidoreductive enzymes. Whereas, in the case of anaerobic bacteria, it inhibits glycolysis. Azelaic acid is mostly excreted unchanged in the urine, but it undergoes some ß-oxidation to short-chain dicarboxylic acids. Some brand names of azelaic acid are Azelex, Finevin and Finacea.

Azelaic Acid Side Effects and Precautions

The common side effects are as follows:

  • Burning sensation or tingling on the skin
  • The skin peels off at the application site
  • Skin gets dry or redness appears on it

The less common side effects are fever, difficulty breathing, blistering, hives, pain in the joints, loss of appetite, constipation, change in taste, nausea, diarrhoea, etc.

Next TopicGlycolic Acid

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