What is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is an organic compound derived the three sources of wheat, barley, and rye.

What is the Purpose of Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid comes in a bright white topical cream that helps with certain skin conditions such as rosacea and acne. Azelaic acid is also able to combat male pattern hair loss (MPH), a specific form of alopecia caused by genetic factors.

How does Azelaic Acid Alleviate Skin Conditions?

Azelaic acid helps combat the inflammatory disorder known as rosacea by “decreasing the enzymatic activity within the cell membrane”, according to this 2009 medical study. Azelaic acid is thought to decrease the reaction between oxygen and hydroxyl radicals (a neutral form of the hydroxide molecule) that is thought to be one of the primary causes of rosacea. In other words, there is an anti-inflammatory effect that combats rosacea. The study notes that this form of treatment does not appear to affect any rosacea sites that have already formed, but rather stops additional rosacea from forming. This special type of acid has antibacterial properties that can cleanse your facial pores and clear acne. It also controls the production of keratinocytes, skin cells that can accumulate in excess and clog your pores. The medical benefits of azelaic acid for acne have been noted ever since a government study in 1989.

How does Azelaic Acid Help with Male Pattern Hair Loss?

To understand how this treatment helps with male pattern hair loss, you have to understand what causes male pattern hair loss to begin with. Male pattern hair loss is caused by an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase when it combines with an androgen (male sex hormone) to produce a super-androgen known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is an androgen that can build in the tissue of the hair follicle and prevent nutrition from reaching the hair. Once this happens, the hair follicle shrinks until it is no longer capable of producing new hair. Azelaic acid is one of the many treatments that prevents this from happening by inhibiting the 5 alpha-reductase from transforming androgens into DHT. By reducing the amount of DHT in the body, the amount of DHT in the hair follicles can be successfully regulated as well, which means that the hair is able to go resume its three lifecycles (anagen, catagen, and telogen) without interruption.

What are Some Popular Brands of Azelaic Acid?

There are two types of acid, prescription and non-prescription. The prescription version is stronger than its over-the-counter counterpart. Brands include:

  • Azelex
  • Finacea

How do I Use Azelaic Acid?

This acid comes as a topical cream. Be sure to follow instructions exactly as they appear on the label. Most gels of this nature are used twice a day. Progress may be slow at first and may take a number of weeks before any noticeable results become readily apparent.

What Kind of Side Effects can Result from this type of Acid?

Be sure to contact your doctor if you experience any of the following sensations:

  • Itchiness
  • Burning or stinging
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Visible rash

Return to the Hair Transplant Glossary