Azelaic acid has a ton of benefits for the skin, including helping with hyperpigmentation and reducing inflammation. Because it's anti-inflammatory, it can be helpful in treating acne and rosacea. It also inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of pigment cells and melanin, meaning it can prevent buildup of pigmentation that leads to dark spots.
Azelaic acid is applied to your skin and is available in gel, foam, and cream form. Azelex and Finacea are two brand names for prescription topical preparations. They contain 15 percent or more of azelaic acid. Some over-the-counter products contain smaller amounts.
Because it takes some time to take effect, azelaic acid by itself isn’t typically a dermatologist’s first choice for treating acne. The acid also has some side effects, such as skin burning, dryness, and peeling.