by Alexandra Nicole

Getting Rid of Acne Scars and Pigmentation

The best ways to deal with the aftermath of acne.

Image via @dahyeshka

After the acne and the barrage of salicylic acid cleansers, sulfur spot treatments and retinoids, it is time to deal with another problem: acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. Acne can leave behind two different types of scars: pinkish to brownish acne marks, the result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and true acne marks, skin that’s raised, depressed or bumpy. The honest truth is, over-the-counter treatments can only work so much for deep-seated scarring, but the good news is that there are plenty of skincare products that work well for fading hyperpigmentation.

First things first, we need to familiarise ourselves with acne scarring. Acne scars are the result of inflammation with the dermis, that triggers the skin to produce pigmentation. In time, the acne scars will heal and fade, but that process can be expedited with treatment. Below, the different types of acne scarring and the ways to treat them. 

Hypertrophic scarring

Cystic acne sufferers will be familiar with this type of scarring; raised scars that are often red or pinkish, and sometimes look like swollen lesions. These occur because the skin overproduces collagen during the healing process. They are harder to treat because it looks like you still have acne even if your blemishes are gone. 

Treating these marks warrants a trip to the dermatologist, where treatments include topical steroids or steroid injections. Unfortunately, these marks are prone to recur even though the treatment is successful. 

Atrophic scarring

Indented acne scars are the opposite of raised scars—they occur when the skin doesn’t produce enough collagen during the healing process. These scars come in different shapes and sizes: boxcar scars, which resemble round or oval craters; ice-pick scars, which are deep and narrow scars that extend into the dermis, and rolling scars, which have sloping edges aren’t as deep as boxcar or ice-pick scars.

In-office treatments such as micro-needling and laser treatments are more effective in getting rid of these scars. At-home peels can help too, in evening out skin texture. 

Hyperpigmentation

The most common of the scars and probably the easiest to treat is hyperpigmentation. They’re basically dark spots left behind by acne from inflammation within the skin’s tissue. There are many great products on the market that can help lighten these spots, from brightening serums to at-home peels. Look out for products with vitamin C and the various AHAs and BHAs—glycolic, lactic, mandelic and the like. An important thing to remember is no matter what product you’re using to try to lighten hyperpigmentation, it’s not going to work well if you’re not diligent about sun protection

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