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Azelaic acid

Skinoren is a cream treatment for acne made by Bayer. It contains an agent called azelaic acid, which works by attacking the bacteria responsible.

This antibiotic cream is not available through our online pharmacy. See your GP if you have acne which is not responding to your usual treatment, or if you think you may have an infection. 

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

05 January 2021
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 05 January 2021
Product information

Skinoren is a type of antibacterial treatment, which is used to combat acne. It is applied to the skin twice a day and helps to clear up spots by attacking the infection responsible. The active ingredient of Skinoren is a substance called azelaic acid, and you can only buy it in the UK if you have a prescription. Noticeable results should be seen in around one month of beginning treatment.

  1. Easy to apply cream
  2. Used twice a day to treat acne
  3. Very efficient treatment

Most people will go through a period of acne at some point in their lives. It can be caused by hormonal fluctuations in the body, or by the presence of bacteria. Acne is generally at its most prominent during a person’s teenage years. It will usually become less severe as a person gets older, and recur with diminishing frequency. However, it can often arise in adults due to rising and falling hormone levels, such as during the early stages of pregnancy, or immediately prior to a woman having her period. It can also result in women and men who are taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids, which can affect hormonal function.

Acne’s identifiable qualities are clusters of or intermittent spots on the skin. These can vary widely in their size and severity. Some cases may cause smaller and less noticeable blackheads or whiteheads; whereas others may result in larger and more painful pustules. These, as well as being uncomfortable, can often leave scarring.

Maintaining good hygiene practices is important in preventing acne, and decreasing the susceptibility of the skin to the condition. Milder cases of acne may pass without the need for medical intervention. But where symptoms persist, particularly in those more severe cases, treatment may be necessary.

To explain how Skinoren works, it is first important to understand how acne starts. In the skin, sebaceous glands generate an oily substance which helps to keep skin and hair healthy. This substance is called sebum. Sometimes, hormonal fluctuations can cause the production of this chemical to increase. This provides an extended feeding ground for propionibacterium acnes. Although it is a usually harmless bacteria when present in small amounts, in those conditions where it is allowed to grow it causes pores to become blocked, and results in spots.

In Skinoren, the functioning constituent is azelaic acid, which works by attacking this bacteria. In doing so, it disables the bacteria’s ability to produce growth proteins and sustain itself. As a result, the bacteria becomes weakened, and the immune system kills off what remains. Symptoms then dissipate.

Please note that we do not offer this treatment through our UK online clinic service. Any acne symptoms which do not clear up after using your usual medication should be reported to your GP.

Page last reviewed:  05/01/2021


Follow the instructions issued by your prescriber when using this cream. Doing so will help you to limit the risk of adverse effects and enable you to get the best possible results out of the treatment. You can find more detailed guidelines on use by consulting the patient information leaflet.

  1. Use as directed.
  2. This will be two applications per day unless otherwise specified.
  3. Wash the area affected before use and dry thoroughly.
  4. In cases where the user has sensitive skin, a doctor may suggest starting with a once-a-day application in the first week, before increasing to twice a day.
  5. The amount you use will be determined by the size of the area being treated. If applying to the whole of the face, you should use around 2.5cm or 0.5g of cream. Adjust this up or down as appropriate, if you are applying to the chest or back.
  6. Rub the cream into the skin gently.
  7. Wash your hands after use.
  8. In most cases, you should begin to see a visible improvement in symptoms after a month of continued use.
  9. Do not use for more than 12 months.
  10. If symptoms fail to improve, see your doctor. 

If you are not sure about any aspect of using this cream, you should approach your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

Download PDF

Page last reviewed:  05/01/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Skinoren 0.2

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

Not everyone who uses this item will experience side effects. However, it is still important to be aware of the nature of them so that you can act appropriately in the event that they occur. Let your doctor know if any of the following becomes serious, or if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction.

Very common (1 in 10 people or more):
Burning, itching or abnormal redness of the skin at the site of application.

Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Scaling, pain, dryness, skin discolouration or irritation at the site of application.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Greasy skin, acne, tingling, dermatitis, discomfort or swelling at the site of application.

Rare (1 in 1,000 people or less):
Cracking of the lips, vesicles, eczema, ulceration, warmth at the site of application, allergic reaction, or worsening of asthma symptoms.

This is not a complete account of the side effects associated with this treatment. For a more detailed list, refer to the leaflet provided.

Taking it with other medicines

Tell your doctor during consultation if you are using any other treatments.

Conditions to look out for

Do not take it if you are allergic to any constituents. Inform your prescriber if you have asthma before using this item.

Page last reviewed:  05/01/2021
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Skinoren 0.2


Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes. It is not likely to be affected by the consumption of alcohol.

Will I still be able to drive?

Yes. The function of this cream should not affect your driving ability. If you experience any side effects, however, which interfere with your judgment or motor skills, do not drive and contact your doctor.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

It may not be suitable. Discuss the use of this medication with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How should I store it?

Keep it in a safe place below 30°C.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

This cream contains the following: azelaic acid, arlatone 983S (polyoxyethylene fatty acid ester), cutina CBS (mixture of mono-diglycerides, fatty alcohols, triglycerides and wax esters), cetearyl octanoate, propylene glycol, glycerol 85% (E422), benzoic acid (E210), and purified water.

Do not use it if you are allergic to any of these ingredients.

Is it available over-the-counter?

This medication is prescription only. You will need to consult with a doctor prior to a prescription for this item being issued.

Is it right for me?

This item is not available through our online service.

Those with new acne symptoms, or symptoms which won’t respond to their current treatment, should see their GP in person. They will be able to determine the best course of treatment following examination.

Page last reviewed:  05/01/2021
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