If you have been struggling with acne, you’ve probably tried all kinds of different over the counter medications. If you still have not had success with these medications, sometimes a doctor or dermatologist will prescribe acne medication that is stronger than what you can buy at the store. One of these medications is Azelex. It is a gel that is applied twice a day, in the morning and evening, to skin that has been washed.
How does it work?
Azelex works a bit differently than most topical prescription acne medications. Most acne medications, even the over counter kind, focus on speeding up skin cell regeneration and replacement. However, Azelex works mainly through killing bacteria in the oil on your face that causes acne. Because it does not impact the way that the skin regenerates, it is somewhat less harsh than its counterparts, and side effects tend to not be as severe, or frequent.
Another way that Azelex is different from other prescription acne medications is that it reduces the amount of keratin present. Keratin is a naturally occurring protein that is found in skin; however, if there is an excess of keratin present, skin cells are not sloughed off as they should be, and pores become clogged. By working to keep pores clear of bacteria that cause acne, and keeping pores clear of dead skin, Azelex can help prevent breakouts from occurring.
What are the side effects?
As mentioned, the side effects for Azelex are less severe and frequent than other prescription treatments, but there are still side effects, because you are changing the way that your skin behaves. The first, as with most acne treatments, is that you may start breaking out, or see your acne become worse when you first begin using Azelex. This is normal, as the skin is adjusting to the medication, a breakout is part of the treatment process. Part of the reason for this is because as you are working bacteria and dead tissue from your pores, they have to go somewhere, and that is the top layer of your skin. So while a breakout may make it appear that skin is not getting better, it is actually an indication that the medication is working.
Aside from the initial breakout that may occur when you first begin using Azelex, you may also experience redness and drying of your skin, in addition to peeling or itching. As with many acne medications, Azelex forces new skin cells to be created, which are sensitive. Additionally, all the dead skin being removed from your face is now going to have to peel off, as it would if you had a sunburn. By using a high SPF sunscreen, and an oil free moisturizer, you can limit the irritation of most side effects caused by taking Azelex. Another rather uncommon side effect that people experience when taking the drug is hypopigmentation, or the lightening of the color of skin. This is most obvious on dark complected individuals, so be aware of this issue before you consider Azelex.
Most of these side effects are annoying, but they usually are not severe. If you have extreme pain, or an allergic reaction, stop using the medication and consult your doctor.
Will it work for me?
Azelex is very effective, and many people see better results from it than other topical prescription acne medications. It is not as harsh as many other prescription medications, and people are better able to stick with it; one of the main reasons acne products do not work is because people give up using them before results can begin to show. People that used Azelex usually saw results within two to four weeks, and skin then cleared up dramatically.