5 Tips for Reducing Acne Scars

By: Victoria Vogt

Acne scars can last long after the pimple disappears. See more pictures of skin problems.

So, you had acne when you were younger or just recovered from a bout of adult acne. The bumps are gone, but the purplish scars still linger. How can you reduce or get rid of them? The first few tips for reducing acne scars have to do with basic skin care to manage outbreaks. Home remedies or natural cures may be all you need for mild or isolated acne scars. Some of the ingredients for them may be in your kitchen or powder room at this very moment. Then, there are non-prescription treatments you can purchase in the beauty section of the drug store, as well as therapies you can get through a doctor. Although there are a number of ways to reduce acne scars, most require repeated treatments over time. Patience is essential: Sticking with scar removal treatment for the long haul will get you more of the flawless complexion you desire.


5: Prevent Future Pimples

One of the most important tips for reducing acne scars is this: Get acne in check to prevent future pimples. When you invest time and money into enhancing your skin's appearance, you'll want the results to last. No need letting future outbreaks create new blemishes. A basic skin care regimen includes regular exercise and adequate water intake, as well as daily cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Reducing stress also helps keep acne at bay. If you're doing all these things and not getting the results you want, a dermatologist can prescribe a daily pill or cream that will help get your acne under control.


4: Sunscreen

The sun can make your acne scars worse, so protect them.
The sun can make your acne scars worse, so protect them.

You've probably heard that applying sunscreen or wearing a daily moisturizer that contains sun protection formula (SPF) 15 or higher is a good idea. It's a skin care tip that will also help reduce acne scars. Even if you do nothing more than prevent future outbreaks, using sunscreen faithfully will keep scars from getting darker; eventually they'll fade. As you may already know, the sun's rays increase the amount of melanin or pigment in the skin. As with tanning, the more your skin is exposed to the sun, the darker it gets. When you have acne scars, they just continue to deepen in color from sunlight -- unless you smooth on a layer of sunblock every day.

The simplest way to get the proper protection is to use moisturizer designed for your particular skin type that has a SPF rating of 15 or greater. The same applies with body lotion if you're dealing with acne on another area of your body like the back, chest or legs.


3: Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies or natural cures can be the first thing to try to fade acne scars. Depending on the severity of the scars, one or several forms of these alternative treatments may work like a charm. Some skin care specialists recommend trying these tips before moving on to pricey, fancy treatments.

Some people say that rubbing ice on your face for 15 minutes both calms down the appearance of pimples when they flare up and also reduces the scars they can leave behind. Others say that raw potato, cucumber or tomato works like a charm at reducing acne scars. This method involves rubbing thin slices of the fresh vegetable in a circular motion on the scars and allowing the potato juice to stay on the skin for 15 minutes; repeat this process several times a week.


Yet other home remedies espouse dabbing a few drops of the following on the blemishes and rinse after 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat this up to several times a week, depending on your skin type.

  • aloe vera, lemon or lime juice
  • Vitamin E, tea tree, olive, lavender or rose hip seed oil
  • rosewater or vinegar
  • sandalwood powder paste

Don't expect overnight results, though; it takes time.

2: Over-the-Counter (Non-prescription)

Microdermabrasion can help to heal your skin.
Microdermabrasion can help to heal your skin.

If you're looking for results using packaged over-the-counter products or those you can purchase without a prescription to reduce acne scars, you'll have a lot of options to consider. First, there's using a quality flesh-toned concealer or foundation to camouflage the blemishes. Another option is any number of creams that reduce the appearance of scarring. For more permanent effects, there are mild chemical peels that contain salicylic acids or alpha hydroxy acids. Those that also have corticosteroids or antihistamines will help reduce inflammation and itching of fresh pimples [source: Cicero].

Bleaching creams contain active ingredients like hydroquinone and slow down melanin production [source: NZSDI]. Using bleaching creams over time can reduce acne scars quite a bit. Just be careful to apply fade cream only to the scar so you don't end up lightening the surrounding skin unintentionally, resulting in light spots.


You can also find microdermabrasion kits in some drug stores and mail order catalogs. They supposedly work similarly to professionally-administered microdermabrasion treatments by sloughing off layers of the skin. Proponents of these resurfacing methods claim to reduce scars and wrinkles as your body regenerates the polished off skin cells.

1: Professional Help

You may resort to professional help to reduce severe acne scars or if you've tried less aggressive methods without success. Certain treatments require a licensed health professional like a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and others may be performed by a trained professional like an aesthetician.

Collagen or fatty tissue injections make acne scars less visible. This procedure is a temporary fix, so you'll have to get it redone every so often. Certain types of acne scars respond well to massage


Dermabrasion is usually reserved for more severe acne scars [source: Mayo]. It involves using a special brush to polish the affected areas. Dermabrasion removes most surface scars, and reduces scars below. A newer and less intense version of skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion involves a small device that blows crystals onto the skin, dusting off cells on the top layer of the skin, then using suction to vacuum up the sanded off particles.

Laser and light-based therapies zap certain areas and layers of skin tissue. When these wounds heal, the new skin appears minus the acne scars [source: Mayo]. Laser treatments require the patient to the office for repeated treatments.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Cicero, Shannon. "How to Get Rid of Acne Scars." August 20, 2009. (Dec. 20, 2009).https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/treating/get-rid-of-acne-scars.htm
  • Chopra, Vidula. "Acne and Blemishes." India Parenting.http://www.indiaparenting.com/faqs/beauty/acne_blemishes.shtml
  • Kubba R, et al. "Acne in India: Guidelines for management." 2009. Vol. 75(Suppl 1):S52-S3. (Dec. 28, 2009).http://www.ijdvl.com/text.asp?2009/75/7/52/45487
  • Mayo Clinic. "Acne." Nov. 3, 2009. (Dec. 20, 2009).http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169
  • Mayo Clinic. "Acne treatments: Emerging therapies for clearer skin." (Dec. 20, 2009).http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne-treatments/SN00038/NSECTIONGROUP=2
  • NZSDI. "Hydroquinone." June 15, 2009. (Dec. 20, 2009).http://dermnetnz.org/treatments/hydroquinone.html