Acne Scars: 6 Things to Know About How to Treat Them

Updated: Feb. 09, 2017

How to erase the damage from pimple picking and other bad skin habits.


Stop picking at your pimples

Inflammation left over after the acne has cleared up is what contributes to scarring, according to Angela Lamb, MD, a dermatologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. If you want to prevent scarring, keep your hands off the area: no rubbing or scratching. Picking at your skin increases inflammation and can damage skin further, which makes scars appear worse and last longer. It can also push bacteria deeper into the skin, causing more serious collagen damage.


Treat acne at the first sign of trouble

The best way to avoid acne scars is to treat your acne issues from the start. Dr. Lamb recommends aggressively treating your acne before it gets out of control. If your skin takes a sudden turn for the worst, see a dermatologist for a professional opinion and treatment. And experiment with these various home remedies for acne.


Know the difference between pockmark scarring and discoloration scarring

Dark spots, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, are temporary marks that should disappear in three to six months. Topical retinoids can help repair the skin and decrease the appearance of these marks. Pockmark or “ice pick” scars are caused by damage to the skin’s collagen, and often need to be treated with lasers or fillers. “This is why treating acne aggressively is important,” says Dr. Lamb. “Once you get a deep scar like that, it is very hard to fix.”


Be vigilant about sun exposure

Sun exposure can make scars appear darker and take longer to heal. Ultraviolet rays boost pigment-producing cells, which can make your scar appear more visible. Always use SPF 30 or higher on your face and look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB waves.


Add aloe vera gel into your treatment

Pure aloe vera gel has long been used to heal wounds and reduce swelling. A 2014 study of 60 participants suffering from mild to severe acne looked at whether adding aloe vera gel to a standard topical retinoid treatment would increase healing. The results were clear. The combination of aloe vera gel and retinoid treatment was significantly more effective at reducing inflammation and acne lesions than the control group who only used a topical retinoid treatment. Other studies have shown that aloe vera boosts collagen in the skin after trauma, which can lessen the appearance of existing scars. Apply pure aloe vera gel (available at most pharmacies and health food stores) to scars and acne marks twice a day to see results. Here are other neat uses for aloe vera gel.


Up your vitamin C intake

Vitamin C helps rebuild collagen, which can help reduce the appearance of facial scars. Kitchen Cures, a Reader’s Digest book, recommends the vitamin because it “strengthens cell walls and can help protect your skin from scarring that blemishes can cause.” Try to incorporate these foods that are rich in vitamin C into your diet. Aim to get 250 to 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day. You can also look for products that contain vitamin C that you can apply directly to the scar.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest