Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging? Here’s the Real Deal

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a young woman with straight black hair is applying small amount of azelaic acid cream on cheeks

Our skin can be so complex sometimes.

We can do everything right, follow a strict skincare routine to the T, and still end up with blemishes and breakouts.

It’s so frustrating!

But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this battle. Many of us are still trying to find that perfect combination of products that will give us clear skin for life.

One product that seems to be gaining popularity lately is azelaic acid.

Azelaic acid is hailed as a miracle worker for acne-prone skin. Dead skin cells are sloughed away, inflammation is reduced, and the growth of acne-causing bacteria is inhibited.

But does it really work? More importantly, does your skin purge with azelaic acid?

If you’re considering adding azelaic acid to your skincare routine, read on to find out everything you need to know about this wonder ingredient.

What is Azelaic Acid?

Azelaic acid is a natural compound found in grains like wheat and barley.

Known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, azelaic acid is commonly used to treat acne.

It’s also effective in treating other skin conditions like rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

The acid cleans out pores, removes dead skin cells, and brightens the skin. These benefits make it an excellent choice for those with acne-prone skin.

Azelaic acid can actually be found among over-the-counter products, as well as in prescription medications.

However, they’re usually not the first choice for acne treatment because they take a while to work.

Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is usually the first line of defense against acne.

But azelaic acid is a great alternative for those who can’t tolerate these harsh ingredients.

Benefits When You Use Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid works excellently since it is a multifunctional ingredient.

Below are some of the benefits this ingredient can give:

Reduces inflammation

Inflamed skin can often be the cause of breakouts.

Plus, it can also worsen the appearance of acne scars.

Azelaic acid soothes the skin and reduces inflammation. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties that calm irritated skin.

Inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria

Whatever skin type you have, keeping your skin clean is essential.

This is especially true for those with acne-prone skin because dirt and bacteria can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

Azelaic acid contains antibacterial properties that kill acne-causing bacteria, preventing the further spread of infection and healing existing blemishes.

Gently exfoliates the skin

Azelaic acid is a gentle exfoliant. It removes dead skin cells without being harsh on the skin.

Unlike tretinoin, which is more aggressive, azelaic acid is mild and usually doesn’t leave skin irritated.

Those with sensitive skin, however, should still use it with caution.

Fades away hyperpigmentation and melasma

Hyperpigmentation is the blanket term for the overproduction of melanin caused by a variety of factors. On the other hand, melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that occurs mostly because of hormonal changes.

The cause and patch pattern are what sets melasma apart from other forms of hyperpigmentation. Melasma appears as broad, blotchy patches that look symmetrical, while hyperpigmentation may appear as freckles and sun spots.

Since azelaic acid contains antioxidants, hyperpigmentation and dark spots are effectively lightened.

Abnormal pigment cells are also destroyed, resulting in an even skin tone.

a woman in white towel applying azelaic acid on face in front of mirror

Side Effects of Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is generally safe for most people to use. But as with any other product, there are some side effects that you should be aware of.

Depending on your skin type, the most common side effects of azelaic acid include the following:

  • Dryness
  • Skin irritation
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Tingling sensation
  • Peeling

These side effects are usually mild and go away after a few days of use.

Less common side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Hives

If you experience any of these side effects when using the product, you must stop using it immediately.

It’s always best to consult a dermatologist before using any new product, especially if you have sensitive skin.

So Does Azelaic Acid Cause Purging?

Purging is a skincare term that’s used to describe the process of accelerated skin cell renewal.

This means that new skin cells are produced at a faster rate, which may lead to an increase in breakouts.

So can azelaic acid cause purging? 

It’s important to note that purging is different from breakouts. Skin purging is a temporary side effect when using a new product.

On the other hand, breakouts are caused by several factors, such as hormones, diet, and stress.

Acids like azelaic and glycolic acid can cause purging. 

The acids dig up dirt and impurities that are deep in the pores. As your skin adjusts, you might experience more breakouts. 

So how long does azelaic acid cause purging?

Don’t worry; this is only temporary!

Once your skin gets used to the product, the azelaic acid purging will stop, leaving you with clear, radiant, and healthy skin.

When you experience purging with azelaic acid, you might notice:

  • More breakouts than usual
  • Acne that’s deeper than usual
  • Frequent acne cysts
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads

If you’re using azelaic acid and notice any of these signs, don’t panic. This is just your skin getting used to the product.

It’s also important to note that not everyone will experience purging. Some people might not notice any difference at all.

How to Use Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid comes in different forms, including creams, gels, and foams.

It’s important to choose the right form for your skin type. For example, those with dry skin should opt for the cream, while those with oily skin can use the gel.

Generally, dermatologists would recommend you start using the product once a day at night. If your skin tolerates it, you can increase the frequency to twice daily.

Make sure to pair it with sunscreen during the day as azelaic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

A moisturizer is also a good idea, especially for dry skin.

Here is a general step-by-step guide on how to use azelaic acid:

1. Start with clean skin.

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry.

A patch test is always a good idea if you’re using azelaic acid for the first time. Apply a small amount of the product to your forearm and wait for 24 hours to see if you have any reaction.

If everything looks good, you can proceed with using the product on your face.

2. Tone your skin.

Toning your skin removes any traces of dirt, makeup, or oil. This ensures that the azelaic acid can penetrate deep into the pores and do its job properly.

Choose a toner suitable for your skin type and add some on a cotton pad. Gently swipe it all over your face, avoiding the eye area.

3. Apply azelaic acid

Take a pea-sized amount of azelaic acid and apply it all over your face. Gently massage it into the skin until it’s fully absorbed. Make sure to avoid the eye area.

Once you’re done, lock it all in with a moisturizer.

And that’s it! Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to clearer skin in no time.

clear skin concept with portrait of a young girl with acne and with healthy clear skin

How Long Does Azelaic Acid Work?

Azelaic acid’s results do not happen overnight. In fact, it can take up to 12 weeks to see a noticeable difference. This is if you’re using a prescription-strength product.

The over-the-counter versions are not as potent, so it might take longer to see results.

If you don’t see any difference after 12 weeks of using azelaic acid, it’s time to consult a dermatologist. They can prescribe a more potent version or recommend another treatment option.

Some people complain that this ingredient does not work so well for them. Others find that it improves their skin significantly.

It all comes down to individual skin type and how your skin reacts to the product.

In the meantime, don’t forget to follow a strict skincare routine and use sunscreen every day.

These simple steps can improve your skin’s overall appearance while waiting for the azelaic acid to work its magic.

Who Should Use Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is suitable for all skin types since it is much gentler than other acids, such as salicylic and lactic acid.

People with acne and rosacea can significantly benefit from using this ingredient.

Teenagers, breastfeeding, and pregnant women can also safely use azelaic acid.

If you have sensitive skin, you might want to consult a dermatologist before using this ingredient. Since it is an acid, there is a risk of irritation and redness.

A dermatologist can determine whether azelaic acid suits your skin type.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some frequently asked questions about azelaic acid:

Does the Ordinary Azelaic Acid cause purging?

The Ordinary is a popular skincare brand known for its gentle yet effective ingredients.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension is one of their most popular products, and it’s suitable for all skin types — even sensitive skin.

And since it has 10% azelaic acid, it’s pretty potent, so users may experience some purging.

However, this usually only happens within the product’s first few weeks.

Once your skin gets used to the ingredient, the purging should stop.

Can I use azelaic acid with salicylic acid?

Yes, you can! In fact, azelaic acid and salicylic acid complement each other quite well.

While azelaic acid brightens the skin and reduces redness, salicylic acid works to unclog the pores and prevent breakouts.

Together, these two ingredients can improve your skin’s overall appearance.

If you’re new to using acids, you might want to start with azelaic acid first. Once your skin gets used to it, you can add salicylic acid into your skincare routine.

Is azelaic acid an AHA?

No, azelaic acid is not an AHA nor is it a BHA.

It’s actually classified as a dicarboxylic acid, which is a type of acid that’s known for its brightening properties.

Brighten Your Skin With The Acne-Fighting Azelaic Acid!

If you’re struggling with acne, azelaic acid may be the answer to your prayers.

This miracle worker kills the bacteria that cause acne, unclogs the pores, and even brightens the skin.

Just remember that there is a purging process that you might have to go through before you see any results.

But it’ll all be worth it once you see your skin transform! So what are you waiting for? Give azelaic acid a try today.

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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