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Topical Acne Scar Treatments

Topical Acne Scar Treatments

Topical acne scar creams may have modest effects on reducing the appearance of acne scars, but they won't remove them entirely, states the American Academy of Dermatology. Over-the-counter (nonprescription) topical acne scar treatments may be appropriate for those with very shallow acne scarring, those who are concerned about skin discoloration after acne heals, or who hope to slightly flatten raised acne scars (keloids). Prescription medications and topical acne scar treatments applied in a doctor's office may yield the best results.

Nonprescription Scar Creams

The AAD notes that the nonprescription acne scar treatments that may result in a slight reduction of the appearance of acne scars are those that include certain active ingredients: glycolic acid, retinol and vitamin C. These ingredients help the skin to produce more collagen. The Cleveland Clinic notes that topicals containing cocoa butter and vitamin E, and popular over-the-counter scar creams such as Mederma, may work for some, but there isn't enough evidence to support their efficacy.

Topical acne scar products used specifically to treat raised acne scars, or keloids, are those that contain silicone. The AAD cites a study that indicated that 34 percent of keloids were slightly less prominent after patients applied silicone gel to the scars for 6 months. However, the AAD notes that even in an in-office setting, treating raised scars is often difficult and may require one or more methods of treatment.

Prescription Topicals

Prescription topicals may be appropriate for raised acne scars, notes the AAD. Tretinoin, a prescription topical that's also used to treat acne, may be applied to the scar twice daily. Alternately, a dermatologist may recommend applying a strong corticosteroid cream to the scar, or using both a tretinoin and a corticosteroid. These medications may be also helpful in reducing pain and itching associated with keloids.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a topical acne scar treatment applied by a dermatologist, and can be one type of treatment used in conjunction with others to reduce depressed acne scars. The AAD notes that a strong acid is applied to the skin to remove the outer layer. The skin reddens and then begins to slough off, revealing a new layer of skin in 1 to 14 days. More potent chemical peels affect deeper layers of skin.

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