Acne treatment Acne treatment

Reduction of Acne Scars

Reduction of Acne Scars


Acne, the most common skin disease in the United States, often presents as just a few pimples that respond well to over-the-counter treatments, such as those containing benzoyl peroxide, according to the American Academy of Dermatology or AAD. But those who develop more severe forms of acne, including acne cysts and nodules, likely will have scars after their acne lesions clear. A variety of different treatments can help reduce these acne scars.

Scar Formation

Acne results when excess oil teams with dead skin cells to clog your pores, allowing infection from acne-causing bacteria to set in, according to the Mayo Clinic. Inflammation determines the type of acne lesion and potentially the type of scar that can develop. Small amounts of inflammation lead to smaller pimples, while big pockets of inflammation can cause cysts or nodules to develop deep in the skin. These painful bumps often become scars when they heal.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Although the AAD warns that most types of over-the-counter acne scar medications are not very effective, some may help reduce mild scarring. Products containing vitamin C, the vitamin A derivative retinol and glycolic acid work the best, potentially flattening raised scars some and making depressed scars look less deep. In addition, if you developed discolored spots where your acne used to be, creams containing hydroquinone potentially can fade these spots, which the AAD notes are not true scars.

Physical Treatments

If over-the-counter treatments fail to reduce your depressed acne scars, you can turn to a dermatologist for help. Dermatologists offer a variety of different physical procedures designed to make scars less noticeable, according to the AAD. Options include surgery to remove acne scars, laser treatment to level the skin, chemical peels to remove the top layer of skin, and dermatological fillers, which can plump up depressed scars.

More Treatments

Raised acne scars can be tricky to treat because they can recur, according to the AAD. If you have raised acne scars, your dermatologist probably will start with a series of intralesional injections, often involving corticosteroids, which help soften and shrink scars. If these fail to improve the scars, your dermatologist may recommend surgery. After surgery, you might have more injections, pressure bandages or even radiation to keep the scars from returning.


Choosing to seek treatment for acne scars is a very personal decision. The AAD says you should consider talking to a dermatologist about reducing your acne scars if you wish your scars would disappear, or if you believe your scars are interfering with your social life or career. Although your post-treatment skin won't look as perfect as it did before your scars appeared, the AAD says most patients are satisfied with their acne scar reduction.

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