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What Are the Treatments for Acne Spots?

What Are the Treatments for Acne Spots? What Are the Treatments for Acne Spots? What Are the Treatments for Acne Spots?

The spots left on the skin after an acne breakout aren't actually scars. They're areas of skin discoloration as a result of the inflammation associated with papules, pustules, nodules and cysts from acne. Also referred to as postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, these spots can range in color from pink and purple to tan and brown, depending on your skin tone. The darker your skin, the darker these spots tend to be. Given time, acne spots eventually fade, but there are treatments available that can help speed up this process. Consult with a doctor or dermatologist to determine which method is best for you.

Bleaching Creams

Bleaching creams containing hydroquinone can help fade acne spots. Hydroquinone decreases the amount of the skin's melanin, which is the compound responsible for pigmentation. It's available in various concentrations. However, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using creams with 2 percent hydroquinone. Higher dosages can lead to severe skin discoloration.


Retinoids are prescription acne creams that not only treat acne but can also help lighten hyperpigmentation. Tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene are all retinoids that encourage cellular turnover, which is the sloughing of dead skin cells to be replaced with new ones. These new cells are closer in color with the rest of your skin, helping to fade the spots. Retinoids can also be used in conjunction with hydroquinone creams and topical corticosteroids.


Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that buffs away the surface layer of your skin. The removal of skin cells stimulates the production of new ones that are closer in color with the rest of your skin. This helps to fade the postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. A series of sessions are often necessary to provide results.

Chemical Peels

It's also possible to fade acne spots with chemical peels. This procedure is somewhat similar to microdermabrasion. But instead of manually removing the skin cells, an acidic agent is used to peel away the surface layer of your skin. When the wound heals, the skin is more even in tone. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that it can take upwards of six peels to provide results.


Though not as common as other methods of removal, cryotherapy can also be used to fade acne spots. With this method, dry ice is placed directly onto areas of hyperpigmentation to break up the additional melanin.

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