Acne Scar Treatment Guide

It’s no secret that acne is one of the most common and frustrating skin conditions to treat. While many people have the most difficult time going through the normal life cycle of acne, there are others whose troubles begin after a pimple has faded away. For these people, acne scars are a not so friendly reminder that an acne breakout or a pimple occurred. There is a ton of misinformation floating around about acne scars, how you get them, and how to keep them away, but the truth is, there are just some blemishes that are more prone to scarring, meaning sometimes acne scars are simply unavoidable. The good news, though, is that even if you find yourself dealing with a stubborn dark mark left behind after your breakout, there are things you can do to help restore your skin to normal. Some methods are more intense, some may work to fade your acne scars faster, and others still may not be a good option for you at all. We’ll go through the best and worst of each acne scar treatment so the next time you’re dealing with a resistant acne scar, you’ll know exactly what to do to get your skin back on track.

The Best Treatments for Acne Scars 

Treat Area with a Cortisone Product: When an acne scar shows up after a tough breakout, the first thing you should do is try to treat the scar with a product. Before you get into the more complicated treatments, you may be able to heal your acne scars with a simple cortisone cream. This is especially important if the acne scar is red or swollen in nature. A cortisone cream can help with the inflammation of the acne scar helping to reduce the red color and decrease swelling. These types of acne scar products are readily available over-the-counter with a number of options to consider at various price points. Possibly the best acne scar product to try in this category would be the Murad Acne Spot treatment which is celebrated amongst skincare enthusiasts for its ability to heal and fade acne scars in a gentle, effective formula.

Use a Fade Cream: If the acne scar is a darker color and inflammation isn’t a huge concern, start by using a fade cream to help reduce the appearance of the acne scar. Many fade creams will promote skin lightening properties as, in essence, lightening an acne scar is an easy way to counteract the darkness. While popular lightening ingredients have since faded out, when choosing a fade cream to treat your acne scars you want to be on the lookout for things like vitamin C which is known for its brightening properties, arbutin which prevents the production of melanin, and kojic acid which is a popular natural skin lightening ingredient. Fade creams should typically be your first course of action when dealing with acne scars and with options available for both over-the-counter and prescription grade creams, for many people, this is a very effective treatment. If you’re looking to try a fade cream on your acne scars, a great over-the-counter option to start with is the Mederma Scar Cream w/ SPF 30. Mederma is a brand that is known for its high quality and powerful scar treatments and this cream is no different. Plus, it contains a healthy dose of sunscreen which is an added benefit and very important to include in your acne scar treatment program. 

Exfoliate with Glycolic or Salicylic Acid: For people with darker complexions, the appearance of an acne scar after a breakout generally means they’ll be dealing with that dark mark for months to come. While there is no real shortcut to deal with this, exfoliating on a regular basis with glycolic or salicylic acid can be a great way to help. By exfoliating, you are breaking down the dead skin cells which can speed up the fading process just a bit. This is an easy acne scar treatment that can be done in the comfort of your home with many over-the-counter options to try. If this is the first time you’re dealing with acidic exfoliating treatments, start off with something gentle like Paula’s Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Treatment. With a low dose of salicylic acid, this exfoliator can be used twice a day to improve the appearance of the skin and even the complexion. If you’re looking for something a bit more powerful, your dermatologist may be able to offer you a glycolic acid peel. During this simple chemical peel treatment, a dermatologist will assess, prep, and apply the peel in a painless procedure that should have a dramatic effect on your acne scars. You may need to repeat the chemical peel a few times to completely diminish the appearance of acne scars. 

Try a Retinoid Product: Retinoids get a tough break when it comes to skincare. Many people are too intimidated to try them but they can truly be an effective way to treat acne scars when used correctly. To be clear, retinoids are a type of vitamin A and they are available in both over the counter and prescription grade products. Retinoids are known primarily for their ability to stimulate collagen production which is a good way to reduce the appearance of acne scars. A popular retinoid product that is known to help even the skin’s complexion is Philosophy’s Help Me. This cream is formulated with a robust blend of retinol, vitamin C, and vitamin E working together to promote collagen production, protect the skin, and brighten the complexion. A few things to note for those venturing out into the world of retinoids, it is common for skin to get worse before it gets better, this is normal. And, retinoid products should be avoided by those who are pregnant or nursing. 

Microdermabrasion Treatment: When normal exfoliating isn’t the answer to your acne scar problems, there is a more advanced technology that may prove successful. Microdermabrasion is a treatment that works by using a medical instrument to gently remove the outer layer of the skin. With microdermabrasion, the main goal is to strengthen collagen which can have impressive results when it comes to acne scars. Microdermabrasion has been successful in reducing the appearance of acne scars, fading dark marks, and even improving normal hyperpigmentation concerns. 

Laser Treatment: When you’ve tried all your fade products and the chemical peels prove unsuccessful, it may be time for a laser treatment to help diminish the appearance of acne scars. Laser treatments use fractioned laser technology to target areas of the skin affected by acne scars. For acne scars, there are two main laser treatment technologies available. The first is a Fraxel Dual Laser skin resurfacing laser. This treatment works to stimulate collagen growth and rejuvenate skin cells. This is perfect for fading acne scars as well as many other pigmentation disorders that may be affecting the skin. The second and most popular laser treatment technology available is the Vbeam Laser. This laser treatment is highly praised for its gentle process and impressive results. The Vbeam laser works to heal acne scars by using a micro-pulse technology that essentially heats blood vessels beneath the skin. This heating process does a number of things, but specifically breaks down pigmentation in an acne scar, leaving behind more even toned skin. 

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