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Can Finacea help with wrinkles or acne or aging?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on April 6, 2023.

Official answer

  • Finacea is FDA approved to treat rosacea; however, azelaic acid, its active ingredient, has been shown to be effective against acne as well
  • There is no evidence that Finacea can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles; however it can improve other signs of aging, such as uneven skin tone.

Finacea is a prescription topical gel that contains 15% azelaic acid. It is FDA approved to treat redness (inflammation) and papules (raised areas of skin of around 1cm) and pustules (small bumps on the skin that contain fluid or pus) caused by mild to moderate rosacea.

Azelaic acid possesses a wide range of activities including:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: decreasing redness and swelling
  • Antibacterial properties: good activity against the bacteria that infect pores, called Propionibacterium acnes
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Reduces sebum production
  • Decreases the production of keratin so reduces pore plugging by keratin and also helps exfoliate the top layer of skin
  • Improves skin tone by decreasing the production of melanin pigments.

Azelaic acid is a type of dicarboxylic acid. These are mild acids found naturally, particularly in plants where they help form protective coatings that help waterproof leaves and fruits, regulate the flow of nutrients, and minimize the harmful impact of pathogens.

Even though azelaic acid can be derived from grains such as barley or wheat, the azelaic acid used in products such as Finacea is made synthetically because it is more stable.

Finacea is a gel that is applied twice daily.

Finacea (azelaic acid) for acne

Although Finacea is not FDA approved for the treatment of acne, its active ingredient, azelaic acid has been used as an antiacne treatment for many years.

Azelaic acid is a good choice for acne because it works in several different ways, such as reducing sebum production, killing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and decreasing keratin production.

Research has shown that azelaic acid has similar effectiveness to other acne treatments at reducing the appearance of acne. It is less irritating than tretinoin and less likely to cause skin sensitization than benzoyl peroxide. Although it costs less than some acne preparations it is more expensive than benzoyl peroxide.

Finacea (azelaic acid) for wrinkles or aging

Finacea is not FDA approved for the treatment of wrinkles or other signs of aging.

Evidence does not suggest that azelaic acid has anti-wrinkle properties. However, it may reduce some of the signs of aging by evening out skin tone and exfoliating dead keratin cells.

Azelaic acid helps to normalize skin tone through its antioxidant effects which provide a bleaching effect. It also reduces keratin production which has an exfoliating effect, removing the top layer of dead skin cells and freshening and brightening the skin.

Azelaic acid may also be effective at normalizing skin tone in people with melasma, which is a skin condition where brown patches appear on the face, most often on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin. These may be due to hormonal changes during pregnancy or from sun exposure, and the condition is much more common in women.

  • Azelaic Acid Topical Medline Plus
  • Anna Szymańska, Elzbieta Budzisz & Anna Erkiert-Polguj (2019) Efficacy of 30% azelaic acid peel in the nonpharmacological treatment of facial acne, Journal of Dermatological Treatment, DOI: 10.1080/09546634.2019.1657222
  • Apriani EF, Rosana Y, Iskandarsyah I. Formulation, characterization, and in vitro testing of azelaic acid ethosome-based cream against Propionibacterium acnes for the treatment of acne. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2019;10(2):75–80. doi:10.4103/japtr.JAPTR_289_18
  • Puizina-Ivić N, Mirić L, Carija A, et al. Modern approach to topical treatment of aging skin. Coll Antropol. 2010 Sep;34(3):1145-53.
  • Finacea (azelic acid topical) LEO Pharma Inc.
  • Austin E, Nguyen J, Jagdeo J. Topical Treatments for Melasma: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. JDD 2019(18)11:1156

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