The versatility of azelaic acid in dermatology

J Dermatolog Treat. 2022 Mar;33(2):722-732. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2020.1800579. Epub 2020 Aug 4.


Azelaic acid has numerous pharmacological uses in dermatology. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are thought to correlate with its efficacy in papulopustular rosacea and acne vulgaris, amongst other cutaneous conditions. We conducted a review of the literature on the use of azelaic acid in dermatology using key terms 'acne', 'azelaic acid', 'dermatology', 'melasma', 'rosacea', searching databases such as MEDLINE, EMBASE and PubMed. Only articles in English were chosen. The level of evidence was evaluated and selected accordingly listing the studies with the highest level of evidence first using the Oxford Center of Evidence-Based Medicine 2011 guidance.This review found the strongest evidence supporting the use of azelaic acid in rosacea, followed by its use off-label in melasma followed by acne vulgaris. Weaker evidence is currently available to support the use of azelaic acid in several other conditions such as hidradenitis suppurativa, keratosis pilaris and male androgenic alopecia.Azelaic acid, as a monotherapy or in combination, could be an effective first-line or alternative treatment, which is well-tolerated and safe for a range of dermatological conditions.

Keywords: Acne vulgaris; azelaic acid; hidradenitis suppurativa; keratosis pilaris; melasma; papulopustular; rosacea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris* / drug therapy
  • Dermatologic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Dermatology*
  • Dicarboxylic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rosacea* / drug therapy


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Dicarboxylic Acids
  • azelaic acid