Acne is a very common, often frustrating condition that sometimes leads to scarring and dark spots. While acne scars won’t entirely go away on their own, there are number of ways you can lighten them or reduce their appearance. Most of these strategies take time to work, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, a bit of concealer is your best option. Here’s a close look at the best treatments for acne scars and what causes them in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Acne Scars
How you get rid of acne scars will differ depending on what types of scars you have and how severe they are. Treatment shouldn’t be started until the acne has completely healed.
- Resurfacing procedures. Laser therapy, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels can help improve the appearance of acne scars that aren’t very deep. They all involve removing layers of skin cells to encourage skin to produce new cells.
- Your dermatologist can fill in shallower scars with substances, like hyaluronic acid, collaged, or your own fat. Results usually last a few months, although some fillers are permanent.
- Also known as collagen induction therapy, this is a good option if you have a lot of depressed acne scars. It involves using a motorized microneedling pen containing rotating needles. The pen is pressed into depressed acne scars to stimulate collagen production.
- Radiofrequency skin tightening. This treatment can sometimes effectively treat deep icepick and boxcar scars. A doctor will use radio frequency to tighten skin and make depressed acne scars less visible.
- This approach involves placing a sterile needle under your skin and using it to disrupt fibrous scar tissue and “loosen” depressed scars.
- A series of repeated injections of medicine, such as corticosteroids, can flatten and soften raised and thick scars.
- Surgery involves raising tissue or breaking up tissue to reduce the appearance of depressed acne scars. Cryosurgery freezes off raised acne scars, but it’s not recommended for people with darker skin.
At-Home or Natural Remedies
You should always check in with a dermatologist before trying new acne scar treatments. A doctor can determine if you have acne scars and not another condition. They can also recommend the most effective treatment. Many ingredients in over-the-counter chemical peels have been shown to improve acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and redness by encouraging skin cell turnover. Look for products with the following ingredients:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, and citric acid
- Salicylic acid
- Azelaic acid
What Causes Acne Scars?
Inflammatory acne can cause painful, swollen, red, and deep skin lesions that damage the skin and underlying collagen. As these lesions heal, the body produces collagen. Too much or too little collagen production results in acne scars that don’t look like the surrounding skin. A few factors can increase the risk of scarring, including:
- Genetics (i.e., a close family member who has acne scarring)
- Delaying treatment for inflammatory acne
- Picking or popping acne
- Severity of the acne, which usually correlates to the amount of scarring a person will experience.
The Bottom Line
Acne scars form when the skin produces too little or too much collagen as it heals. While they won’t go away entirely on their own, several treatments can improve their appearance. This includes in-office dermatological procedures, such as resurfacing with lasers, or microdermabrasion, fillers, microneedling, skin tightening, and surgery. At-home chemical peels with ingredients, like retinoids and salicylic acid, can encourage skin cell turnover to reduce scarring. Talk with a doctor to get recommendations for the best treatment plan for your type and severity of acne.