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What Are the Treatments for Removing Black Spots Left on the Face by Acne?

What Are the Treatments for Removing Black Spots Left on the Face by Acne? What Are the Treatments for Removing Black Spots Left on the Face by Acne?

Many people believe the black spots left on the face by acne are scars, but they are not. They are actually post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. If left alone, they will eventually fade over time, though this could take months or in rare cases, years. Picking at acne can increase the chances of hyperpigmentation, and the sun can prolong the healing while darkening the spots. Regardless of the treatment selected, make sure you wear sunscreen at all times.

Bleach Cream

Hydroquinone is the active ingredient found in many over-the-counter skin bleaching creams. Over-the-counter creams by law can carry up to 2 percent of hydroquinone, and a dermatologist can prescribe a cream containing up to 4 percent hydroquinone. It is important when using a bleaching cream to follow the directions carefully; improper use, or using a product with high amounts of hydroquinone, can cause permanent discoloration to the surrounding skin.

Topical Treatments

Retinoids, such as Tretinoin (Retin-A), are prescribed via topical treatments to treat dark spots left on the face by acne. Sometimes topical treatments are prescribed with a combination of treatments including tretinoin, hydroquinone and corticosteroid. The combination often helps without irritation to the skin. Azelaic acid is also a common topical treatment prescribed to fade spots while treating acne at the same time.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are mild acids applied to the skin causing it to shed the top layers. There are mild chemical peels available for home use, or you can have a dermatologist perform a chemical peel. The type and strength of acid solution will determine the depth of the peel into the layers of skin. Chemical peels help remove the damaged tissue with the hyperpigmentation, and force new skin to grow. Most spots do not require deep peels, but multiple treatments may be required.


Microdermabrasion is the use of aluminum oxide crystals that are propelled along the skin's surface; newer devices are now crystal-less. It's a superficial treatment that scrapes the top layers of skin off, eliminating dead skin cells and layers of hyperpigmentation. It's similar in treatment theory to chemical peels, and may also require several treatments. Derma Network notes that up to 15 treatments could be required, and that can be costly; over-the-counter microdermabrasion kits are also available.

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