How to best treat acne scars How to best treat acne scars

How to best treat acne scars

It is possible for acne to leave scarring on the skin, which can be difficult to eliminate. These scars can be a source of distress for many people and a reminder of the discomfort caused by acne. Fortunately, various home remedies and medical treatments are available to help reduce the appearance of these scars.


Different options, such as natural, over-the-counter, and prescription remedies, can help treat acne and minimise the appearance of scars.

Depending on the scar size and type, potential treatments may include:

  • Surgery, in some cases

  • Salicylic acid peels are chemical peels

  • Retinoids and other creams

  • Other procedures include laser treatment, microneedling, and light therapy.


Types of acne scar

In general, there are three types of acne scars: hypertrophic, and keloid. A sunken appearance characterises atrophic scars, whereas hypertrophic scars are raised, and keloid scars are raised and hard. Depending on the type of scarring, treatment options may vary.

Atrophic scars

Scars appear as small indentations on the skin.

  • Scars that look like pinpricks are called cepick scars.

  • An indentation in the shape of a boxcar has a transparent edge and is larger.

  • Having unclear edges, rolling scars give the skin an undulating or rolling appearance.


A deficiency of fibroblasts in the healing process can lead to scar tissue formation. Fibroblasts are cells responsible for producing collagen and other components essential for wound healing.

Hypertrophic scars

As the acne spot heals, excess fibroblasts are produced by the skin, forming a raised scar.

Keloid scars

These scars are thicker than the original acne spot and often have hyperpigmentation, making them darker than the normal skin tone. They can be red, brown, or a different colour. Additionally, affected areas may be itchy or painful to the touch.

Natural remedies

Acne scars can be cleared up with natural remedies. However, the science behind them needs to be clarified. Some may cause further irritation or other problems, so people should use them cautiously.


People have traditionally relied on home remedies for acne scar reduction, such as:

  • Pigmentation may be evened out by black seed oil.

  • Postsurgical scars can benefit from rosehip oil, which reduces discolouration.

  • In addition to helping wounds heal, honey may also reduce scarring in the future.

  • This is aloe vera, which is comb-like.

Over-the-counter remedies

Several over-the-counter products contain ingredients such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and vitamin C to reduce the visibility of acne scars.


While over-the-counter creams and lotions may provide some relief, it is unlikely that they will be able to reduce or flatten a raised scar fully.

Salicylic acid

It is a naturally occurring compound found in skin care products for acne. This acid helps to clean the skin by removing dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris that can cause acne. By clearing these clogged pores, salicylic acid peels help to reduce the occurrence of acne.


It is suggested to use a peeling product with 30% salicylic acid and apply it 3 to 5 times in 3 to 4 weeks. It is not likely to cause hyperpigmentation, making it suitable for darker skin tones.


By applying a cold compress to the area, you can reduce inflammation, swelling, and redness, which may make scarring less visible.


All types of scars can be treated with salicylic acid.


To ensure the product is suitable for their skin, people with sensitive skin should conduct a patch test on a small area before applying it to their face. This will help to avoid any potential dryness or irritation that may occur.


Research suggests that topical retinoids may be effective in treating acne scars. These topical medications can reduce inflammation, lessen acne lesions, and accelerate cell regeneration, reducing the appearance of acne scars.

Retinoids may prove beneficial in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmented acne scars in people with darker skin tones.


It is essential to be aware that retinoids can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. As such, anyone using retinoids for acne or scar treatment should apply sunscreen before heading outside.

Alpha hydroxy acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have been found to increase the rate at which skin cells are replaced. Medical professionals often recommend these acids to treat acne and reduce scarring caused by acne.


Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can help remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface, revealing the smoother, younger-looking skin underneath. This process can help to reduce the appearance of skin discolouration caused by scarring.


As AHAs can cause swelling, burning, and itching at high concentrations, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using them. This will help to determine the best strength for the individual's needs.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid, one type of alpha hydroxy acids, can act as a gentle exfoliator that promotes the removal of dead skin cells. By using the treatment, scars can be reduced in appearance and improve the texture of the skin.


A small study involving seven people with icepick scars found that a product containing 92% lactic acid positively affected their skin. One participant experienced an improvement of over 75%, while three others saw a 51-75% improvement. Two participants experienced a 26-50% improvement, and one person saw a 1-25% improvement.


Before using any product containing lactic acid to treat acne scarring, testing it on a small patch of skin is important to ensure it does not cause hyperpigmentation. In addition to lightening dark scar tissue, lactic acid may also help reduce acne scarring.


Lactic acid is a common ingredient in many acne treatments and can also be found in diluted apple cider vinegar. This natural alternative is an effective and affordable solution for treating acne.

Silicone dressings

Even though the exact mechanism is not entirely understood, these treatments can help diminish acne scars' appearance and size. This may be due to the additional hydration they provide to the skin. In addition, they are thought to reduce itching and pain and increase the skin's elasticity.


Wearing dressings continuously can be challenging, yet most people don't have any adverse reactions. However, some individuals may experience itchiness or soreness.

Medical treatments

Specific medical procedures may be beneficial in minimising the appearance of acne scars.


Depending on the individual's skin and the severity of the scarring, a dermatologist can advise the best treatment or combination of treatments.


There are several options available:

Chemical peels

A dermatologist can determine which type of peel is most appropriate for a person's skin, depending on the type of skin, the severity of any acne, and the visibility of any scarring.


A study found that trichloroacetic acid (TCA) chemical peel had a successful outcome in 60% of participants, with at least 70% improved their acne scarring.



In contrast, glycolic acid proved ineffective for 25% of those who tried it, with no noticeable decrease in the appearance of scars.


It may take experimenting with different peels to discover which works best for an individual.


Corticosteroid injections benefit people with hypertrophic or keloid scars, as they can reduce the size of raised scar tissue and make it smoother.


Regular injections are an effective way to treat skin disorders.

Dermal filler

In certain instances, dermatologists may suggest soft tissue fillers for treating atrophic acne scars, especially for rolling or boxcar.


There are several options available.

  • Silicon

  • Collagen-based products

  • Polyacrylamide

  • Hyaluronic acid

  • Poly-L-lactic acid

  • Polymethylmethacrylate


However, it is essential to consult a doctor to determine the type of filler best for your skin. Additionally, additional treatments may be needed to maintain the effects depending on the type of filler used.


Before deciding to get a filler, discussing the possible risks and benefits with a doctor is important. Different types of fillers can cause different side effects, so it is important to be informed about the specific filler used for the procedure.


The microneedling process involves inserting fine needles near a scar to stimulate the body to produce more collagen. This collagen can help to reduce the visibility of atrophic acne scars, making the skin appear smoother.


Microneedling successfully improved the appearance of atrophic or indented acne scars, ranging from 31-62%.


The combination of microneedling and the application of collagen gel produced significantly better results than simply using microneedling alone.


Some people may also experience bruising and swelling. It is important to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before receiving this treatment.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment uses short, concentrated beams of light to penetrate the uppermost layer of skin. Removing dead and damaged skin cells reveals the fresh, younger skin cells beneath. This method of skin resurfacing can help reduce the appearance of scarring and other signs of ageing.


Pulsed dye laser treatment can diminish the appearance of raised scars and lighten the colour of hyperpigmented spots. This treatment is also known to improve the texture of the affected area.


People with lighter skin tones should consider intense pulsed light treatment a viable alternative.


Not everyone can benefit from laser treatment for acne scarring. The type of scarring and the person's skin type will determine whether this method suits them. Additionally, people with sensitive skin may experience adverse reactions to the treatment.



Surgery can be used to remove raised acne scars if other treatments fail. Surgery alone may not solve the problem, and a doctor may recommend further treatment.


This treatment is usually painless and does not require anaesthesia. It usually takes several sessions to see results, but the results are long-lasting.

Frequently asked questions

Acne scars are often asked questions, so here are some answers.

How can I prevent acne scars?

Although avoiding acne or scarring may not be possible, some steps can be taken to reduce the chances.


To reduce the chance of acne scarring, it is important to seek treatment while acne is still present and to refrain from picking, popping, or touching the affected area.

How can I remove acne scars and discolouration?

Acne scars can be addressed with a variety of treatments. Fillers can treat indented or atrophic scars, while laser treatment can help reduce hyperpigmentation and flatten raised scars. Depending on the type and extent of scarring, these treatments can be utilised to minimise or remove scarring.


A dermatologist can treat skin scars if you suffer from them. Your dermatologist can determine which treatment option is best for you based on your skin type and the severity of the wounds. This could include topical creams, laser treatments, or surgical procedures.

Can treatment remove scars permanently?

The effectiveness of treatments to reduce the appearance of scars varies depending on several factors, such as the type and extent of scarring and the individual's skin type. Over time, spots may naturally become lighter and less visible regardless of treatment.


It is essential to think carefully and discuss with a dermatologist the potential costs and time commitment of treatment before beginning.


People with acne scars can suffer from decreased self-confidence due to the reminder of their acne. Fortunately, various treatments are available that improve the appearance of acne scars and the individual's self-image.


Home remedies can effectively treat mild cases of acne scarring, but more intensive medical treatments may be necessary for stubborn scarring. A dermatologist can help determine the best course of action for reducing the appearance of acne scars.


Dermatologists should be consulted to treat acne scars, as some treatments can be harmful if not applied properly.



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