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Acne Red Spot Treatment

Acne Red Spot Treatment


Most people don't have lasting reminders of their pimples. But in some people, particularly those with darker skin or who tan easily, acne can leave behind red spots on the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD. These red spots aren't technically scars, because they eventually will disappear. However, many people who have these red spots don't want to wait for them to fade, so they seek treatments to fade them faster.


Red spots result when the inflammation in an acne lesion heals, leaving behind what dermatologists call post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Red spots are common, but according to the AAD you might also see pink, purple, brown or tan spots, depending on your skin tone and color. Left alone, these skin color changes can take years to disappear, which leads many sufferers to seek treatment for them.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Over-the-counter treatments can help to fade minor red spots, according to the AAD. You should look for a product that contains the active ingredient hydroquinone, but only if the package says the hydroquinone is no stronger than 2 percent. Stronger formulations of hydroquinone can cause severe skin discoloration when used without supervision from a dermatologist, and the AAD warns that type of skin discoloration can be very difficult to reverse.

Prescription Medications

Dermatologists offer prescription medications that might be able to fade your red spots faster and potentially more safely than over-the-counter products. Physicians can prescribe creams containing up to 4 percent hydroquinone, which are safe if used as directed by your dermatologist, according to the AAD. Or, your dermatologist might recommend a topical product that contains a combination of hydroquinone, corticosteroids to reduce any remaining inflammation, and tretinoin, or Retin-A, which encourages new skin cells to form.


Several dermatologist-provided procedures can help to resolve red spots left behind by acne. According to the Mayo Clinic, laser treatments can help to resurface the skin, while microdermabrasion can help to remove the discoloration. A series of light chemical peels also can help the skin to renew itself, potentially lessening the appearance of the red spots.


Treating red spots that appear when acne lesions clear will take time, the AAD warns. Regardless of whether you choose treatment or to let your spots fade naturally, it's essential for you to stay out of the sun. Any sun exposure can make the red spots darker and potentially more difficult to treat. The AAD recommends applying SPF 30 sunscreen at least 20 minutes before any sun exposure, even if you have dark skin.

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