What is Azelex®?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A doctor may prescribe Azelex® to treat acne.
A doctor may prescribe Azelex® to treat acne.

Azelex® is a medication a doctor may prescribe to treat acne if a patient has a moderate or mild case of this skin condition. Some dermatologists also use this drug to manage rosacea, in off-label use for patients who may benefit from it. It comes in the form of a topical cream for patients to gently massage into the involved area of skin. Pharmacies usually carry or can order this medication by request, and patients should pay attention to their remaining refills to make sure they do not run out.

Azelex is sometimes used to manage rosacea.
Azelex is sometimes used to manage rosacea.

This medication can help open up the pores to make clogged pores less likely, and will also kill surface bacteria on the skin. Many acne medications offer this two-fold function to help keep the skin clear. In rosacea patients, Azelex® appears to help with skin regeneration, and may reduce the appearance of red, rough skin.

To use the drug, patients first need to clean the skin and pat it dry. Usually, it is necessary to have two applications a day. People can squeeze out a small amount of cream and massage it into the skin. It is important to avoid applying Azelex® too thickly, as this can increase the chances of side effects, and will not resolve the skin breakout any more quickly. Patients should also wash their hands after use. The medication is not intended for use on mucus membranes like the eyes and mouth, and if people inadvertently smear it in these areas, they should flush the affected areas with cool running water to avoid irritation.

Side effects from Azelex® use are rare. Some patients may notice numbness and tingling when they first apply it, but these responses should resolve. For some people, using Azelex® can make a skin problem worse, cause rashes, or lead to excessive hair growth. The medication can lighten skin, a concern for dark-skinned patients where such discoloration would be visible, and people should remain alert to changes in skin color. These patients should stop using the medication and discuss available alternatives with their doctors. The pharmaceutical market includes a number of drugs for acne, and a doctor should be able to find a safe replacement.

When a doctor prescribes Azelex®, the patient can ask why the medication is recommended, and how to use it properly. People should not share their drugs, as another person may have an adverse reaction to the drug, or a different skin condition, in which case the Azelex® will not be helpful.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • A doctor may prescribe Azelex® to treat acne.
      A doctor may prescribe Azelex® to treat acne.
    • Azelex is sometimes used to manage rosacea.
      Azelex is sometimes used to manage rosacea.