Acne Spot Removal
Just about everyone gets pimples as a teenager. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Most pimples eventually go away, leaving no scars. But if you have darker skin or if you tend to tan more easily than others--signs that you have more pigmentation than average in your skin--you may develop spots from your acne, because the acne lesion triggers pigmentation at the site during healing.
Acne spots can develop as your pimples fade. Your dermatologist may call these spots post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which simply means skin color changes after inflammation. Spots appear in a range of colors from pink to purple and tan to brown, depending on your underlying skin tone. They are not true acne scars, and they eventually will fade, but the process can take years. Many people want them to fade faster.
Some over-the-counter products may be able to remove your spots, although you need to pick a product with ingredients that have been proven effective, according to the Academy of Dermatology. Creams containing hydroquinone, a bleaching ingredient that lightens skin color, may fade your spots. But don't choose a cream containing more than 2 percent hydroquinone, because that can fade more than just your spots--it can cause severe skin bleaching that's difficult to reverse.
Your dermatologist has options that can remove your acne spots more quickly. If an over-the-counter hydroquinone cream helped but didn't fade the spots fast enough, you might try a stronger prescription hydroquinone cream, which can be safe as long as you follow your dermatologist's instructions exactly. In addition, prescription products that include the ingredient tretinoin will encourage your skin to shed its outer layer, revealing clearer skin underneath, while prescriptions that contain corticosteroids can resolve any remaining inflammation in your acne spots.
Several dermatologist-provided procedures can remove acne spots, according to physicians at the skin-care information website Derma Network. Microdermabrasion, an office procedure that uses crystals to scrub the skin and reveal new skin underneath, can remove acne spots in a few treatments. Likewise, a series of chemical peel procedures, which use acid-based chemicals to remove the top layer of skin, can remove your spots.
Regardless of the treatment or combination of treatments, you must stay out of the sun and use sunscreen at all times, according to the Academy of Dermatology. Sun exposure and tanning will make your spots darker and harder to treat. The academy recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day and avoiding midday sun exposure. Look for an oil-free sunscreen, which will help prevent new acne lesions.
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