Azelaic acid (Finacea gel)

How does it work?

Finacea gel contains the active ingredient azelaic acid, which is a medicine used to treat acne.

Azelaic acid reduces the growth of the keratin surface skin cells that can block pores. This helps to unblock the pores and sebaceous glands (glands which secrete sebum) and as a result the sebum can escape. This reduces the formation of blackheads (comedones) and spots.

Azelaic acid also kills the bacteria associated with acne, Propionebacterium acnes. This is a common type of bacteria that feeds on sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It produces waste products and fatty acids that irritate the sebaceous glands, making them inflamed and causing spots.

Azelaic acid reduces the numbers of these bacteria by reducing their food source (sebum) and by inhibiting their growth. By controlling bacterial numbers, the inflammation of the sebaceous glands is brought under control, and the skin is allowed to heal.

Finacea gel should be applied to the affected areas twice daily (mornings and evenings) after washing the skin, and massaged gently into the skin.

Regular use is important. In general, an improvement in the acne becomes apparent after about four weeks of using the gel. The manufacturer states that to obtain the best results, Finacea gel should be applied over a period of several months.

Finacea gel can also be used to treat acne rosacea (where the skin on the face is unusually red). The exact way that the azelaic acid works in this condition is unclear, but it has been shown to reduce the redness and swelling of this condition. In rosacea, an improvement should become apparent after about four to eight weeks of using the gel. Again, to obtain the best results, the manufacturer states that the gel should be applied over a period of several months.

What is it used for?

  • Mild to moderate acne vulgaris affecting the face.
  • Papulopustular rosacea.


  • This medicine is for external use on the skin only.
  • Avoid contact with the eyes, mouth and inside of the nose. If the gel accidentally comes into contact with these areas, rinse immediately with large amounts of water.
  • Wash your hands after applying the gel.
  • If your skin becomes irritated after using the gel you should either use less gel, or reduce use to once a day until the irritation has resolved. If necessary, treatment can be temporarily interrupted until the irritation has resolved. If any irritation persists, consult your doctor.

Not to be used in

  • Allergy to any ingredient, in particular propylene glycol.
  • This medicine is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.

If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

  • The safety of this medicine for use during pregnancy has not been established and as a result, the manufacturer states that it should be used with caution in women who are pregnant. As with all medicines, it should only be used if considered essential by your doctor. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
  • This medicine is unlikely to pose any risk to a nursing infant if used by mothers who are breastfeeding. However, you should avoid applying the gel on or near the breasts before feeding to avoid the infant accidentally coming into contact with it. Seek further advice from your doctor.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

Very common (affect more than 1 in 10 people)

  • Skin irritation at site of application, such as burning and pain.

Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)

  • Itching.
  • Skin irritation at site of application, such as redness and dryness.
  • Peeling of skin.

Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people)

  • Fluid retention, causing swelling (oedema) of the face.
  • Contact dermatitis.
  • Skin discoloration at site of application.

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How can this medicine affect other medicines?

This medicine is not known to affect other medicines.

Other medicines containing the same active ingredient

Skinoren cream