Azelaic acid is a saturated dicarboxylic acid found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley. It is a natural substance that is produced by Malassezia furfur (also known as Pityrosporum ovale), a yeast that lives on normal skin. It is effective against a number of skin conditions, such as mild to moderate acne, when applied topically in a cream formulation of 20%. Azelaic acid may be useful as a hair growth stimulant. more...
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; and
- Scavenger of free radicals: it reduces inflammation.
- Reduces pigmentation: it is particularly useful for darker-skinned patients, who have melasma, or whose acne spots leave persistent brown marks;
- Non-toxic, and is well tolerated by most patients.
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
Because 20% azelaic acid can be a skin irritant, it should be used only when prescribed by a physician.
Uses of azelaic acid
Azelaic acid is used to treat mild to moderate acne, i.e. both comedonal acne and inflammatory acne. It works in part by stopping the growth of skin bacteria that cause acne, and by keeping skin pores clear.
Azelaic acid may be useful as a hair growth stimulant. A research report by Stamatiadis in 1988 suggested that azelaic acid (and combinations of it, with zinc ion and vitamin B6) was a strong type I 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) inhibitor. The enzyme, 5-AR (both Types I and II) convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has been shown to contribute to male prostrate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH) and to damage hair follicles.
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