The front of a box of Skinoren treatment for acne

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Skinoren cream


The front of a box of Skinoren treatment for acne
Skinoren is a topical cream to treat acne. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria which cause acne. It also stops your pores from becoming clogged which can cause spots. The cream can treat acne scars, rosacea, and dark spots on your skin too.

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Skinoren 20% cream (Azelaic acid) - 30g £15.00

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About Skinoren cream

Skinoren Cream is a prescription-only medicine to treat acne on your face, back and chest.

Skinoren Cream contains the active ingredient azelaic acid and can also treat acne scars, rosacea, and dark spots on the skin.

Skinoren Cream helps treat acne in two ways. 

Firstly, it helps to reduce the growth of keratin skin cells. These can block pores and cause spots or blackheads when they mix with sebum, the natural, oily substance that coats your skin.

Secondly, the active ingredient, azelaic acid, has antimicrobial properties. This helps kill the bacteria that can irritate your sebaceous glands, and cause inflammation and pus in acne. It also allows these glands to heal naturally.

How long does Skinoren Cream take to work?

Most people who use Skinoren Cream notice an improvement in their skin after about 4 weeks. 

How effective is Skinoren Cream? 

Research has shown that azelaic acid, the active ingredient in Skinoren Cream, is effective for treating acne. 

84% of participants with moderate to severe facial acne showed some improvement in their skin after using azelaic acid 15% foam. Sixty three per cent had clear or almost clear skin after 16 weeks.

Another study looking at papulopustular acne (inflammatory acne that leads to slightly raised, red raised bumps filled with pus) showed that 20% topical azelaic acid cream was effective at treating this.
Only adults and children over 12 years old should use Skinoren Cream. Always follow your doctor’s instructions to use Skinoren Cream properly.

When to take Skinoren Cream

You should use Skinoren Cream twice a day: once in the morning, then again in the evening. Do this unless your doctor has recommended otherwise.

If you have very sensitive skin, for the first week of treatment, you should apply this in the evening only. After this time, you can use it twice daily (morning and evening).

The amount of cream you need to use each time will depend on the size of the affected area. Your doctor can advise you on this. As a rough guide, if your whole face is affected, you’ll need roughly 2.5cm (0.5g) of cream to apply here. Increase this amount accordingly if your back or chest needs to be treated.

How to apply Skinoren Cream

  1. Wash the affected area thoroughly with plain water first. If your skin is greasy, you can use a mild skin cleanser. Dry your skin thoroughly.
  2. Gently rub the recommended amount of Skinoren Cream into the affected area.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. 

How long do I need to take Skinoren Cream for?

You should use Skinoren Cream for several months to get the best results. However, the duration of your treatment depends on how severe your acne is. 

Do not use Skinoren Cream for more than 12 months or longer than your doctor has advised you to.
Skinoren Cream is a prescription-only medicine. That means you will need a prescription from a doctor to buy it. 

However, you can buy Skinoren Cream from Superdrug Online Doctor following a short online consultation with one of our registered doctors. You can complete this online in your own time (it only takes a few minutes).

The whole process is quick and easy. 

  1. Upload 2 clear photographs of the affected area plus answer a few related questions about your symptoms and medical history.
  2. One of our doctors will review this information and prescribe Skinoren Cream, if suitable.
  3. Get your order delivered to you, or collect it in-store from your nearest Superdrug Pharmacy.

Can I buy Skinoren Cream over the counter?

No, Skinoren Cream is a prescription-only medicine, so you will need a prescription from a doctor to get it. 

Can I get Skinoren Cream on the NHS?

Yes, it may be possible to get Skinoren Cream on the NHS. However, you will need to book a face to face appointment with your GP so they can see the affected area in person and decide if Skinoren Cream is suitable before prescribing this.
Like all medicines, there is a risk of developing side effects when using Skinoren Cream. 

Very common side effects include:
  • burning, itching, or redness where the cream has been applied
Common side effects include:
  • skin flaking or peeling
  • pain
  • dryness
  • skin discolouration
  • irritation
Uncommon side effects include:
  • acne or loss of skin colour
  • greasy skin
  • dermatitis, where skin becomes itchy, dry, or blistered
  • tingling
  • discomfort or swelling
Rare side effects include:
  • cracking of the lips
  • small blisters (vesicles)
  • ulcers
  • eczema
  • allergic reaction
  • rash
  • warmth where the cream has been applied

How long do Skinoren Cream side effects last?

When you first use Skinoren Cream, you may experience mild skin irritation. However, this usually gets better as you continue to use the cream.

If this irritation is troubling you, you can: 
  • apply a smaller amount of cream
  • use Skinoren Cream once a day only
  • temporarily stop using Skinoren Cream altogether
If this skin irritation continues, speak to your doctor for advice.

Skinoren Cream warnings

Skinoren Cream may not be suitable for everyone. Certain conditions or medications can interact with Skinoren Cream and make it less effective, or even potentially unsafe.

You may not be able to use Skinoren Cream if you are:
  • under 12 years old
  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • allergic to any of its ingredients
  • asthmatic
If you are taking any other medicines, you should let your doctor know about these before starting treatment with Skinoren Cream.
There are several alternative topical treatments available for acne if Skinoren Cream isn’t suitable for you. Some of the most effective treatments available from Superdrug Online Doctor are listed below.


Zineryt is a topical medication which you apply directly to acne. It contains erythromycin and zinc acetate. Erythromycin is an antibiotic that kills the bacteria which cause acne. Meanwhile, the zinc in zinc acetate helps heal skin damaged by spots and pimples.


Epiduo is a gel which you apply directly to skin affected by acne. It contains the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide. This helps kill the bacteria known to cause acne. It also contains adapalene which helps remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oil from the skin.    


Differin is a prescription acne gel that helps clear acne and prevents future breakouts. Like Epiduo, Differin contains adapalene. It is also a ‘retinoid treatment’. This means it’s a good source of vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin. 

Aknemycin Plus

Aknemycin Plus contains erythromycin too. It also includes a retinoid called tretinoin. This removes dead skin cells and dirt from the skin and helps to increase the turnover of skin cells.
Acne Treatment Regimens (2018) NHS [accessed 03 June 2022] 
Azelaic acid (2022) Acne Support [accessed 03 June 2022] 
Efficacy and safety of azelaic acid (2018) Europe PMC [accessed 03 June 2022]
Efficacy and safety of 20% azelaic acid cream for papulopustular acne (2021) Modern Medical Technology [accessed 03 June 2022]
Epiduo (2016) EMC [accessed 03 June 2022]
Skinoren 20% Cream (2022) EMC [accessed 03 June 2022]
Zineryt (2022) EMC [accessed 03 June 2022]

About Online Doctor

We're a service that helps you order treatments online from UK-registered doctors with free, discreet, to-your-door deliveries.

See our About Us page to learn more.

Reviewed by: Dr Babak Ashrafi in line with the Superdrug Online Editorial Process.

GMC no. 6077866

Dr Ashrafi studied at King’s College London and specialises in cardiology, diabetes, and stroke medicine.

Last reviewed on: 27/06/22