Clear skin almost sounds like a myth to most of us. While some people get away with the appearance of a few pimples and acne here and there on the face, some people have to deal with acne scars and pimple marks that instantly drop your confidence level ( 1 ).
These scars are nasty and are difficult to cover up even with some heavy duty makeup. So what do you do?
First, let’s understand what causes acne scarring and the types of scars on your face and then we will get to cures in a minute.
Causes of Acne Scars
1. Inflammation: The pores in our skin swell and cause a beak in the follicle wall. If the break is deep, it affects the dermal layer of the skin. New collagen fibers need to be produced in order to fix the follicle wall. Through multiple trials and errors, this breakage is hardly ever recovered and this leads to the formation of acne scars.
2. Dark spots: When inflammation is detected in the skin, an excess of melanin is produced, resulting in the appearance of dark spots ( 2 ).
Types of Scars
Atrophic scars refer to the depressed scars that settle into the skin. They are caused due to lack of collagen production while the pimple or acne is healing.
a. Boxcar: U-shaped scars that have wide and sharp edges. They can be shallow or deeply placed into the skin.
b. Ice Pick: These are V-shaped and narrow and are usually deep rooted. Treatment is rather difficult since these scars extend deep into the skin surface. They look like narrow oval holes.
c. Rolling: Irregular scars which have rounded edges.
2. Hypertrophic: These scars emerge over and above the surface skin. They result out of excess production of collagen during healing.
3. Dark Spots: When a zit clears out, there may be some discoloration on the spot. These spots may be purple, red or brown in color and usually fade out on their own ( 3 ).
While acne medication is prescribed by most dermatologists, it is important to know that it only heals existing acne and pimples. Scars appear in the spots where the acne hasn’t healed completely and hence the medication will not show effective results ( 4, 5 ).
There are several methods to get rid of those horrid acne scars. From proper medical treatments to products and home remedies, here is a complete list of ways to get rid of acne scars and pimple marks.
1. Dermabrasion brush: A spinning brush made of tiny fibers that remove the top layer of dead skin cells present on the face. The brush spins at a fast rate and needs to be run all over the problem areas. This works well for mild and minimal acne scars and pimple marks.
2. Mechanical exfoliation: Using mechanical forces to remove the topmost layer of dead skin cells helps in reducing the appearance of acne scars. Pumice stones and scrubs are some common examples of a mechanical exfoliator.
3. Retin A: This is a topical ointment that removes the top layer of skin and creates new layers of skin. It causes the skin to even out and makes the scars fade out eventually. It works best for people with deep-rooted acne scars all over the face. The only difficulty in procuring this ointment is that you will need a prescription from a dermatologist before you can purchase it but is readily available across all drugstores. It shows the best results for removing Rolling scars.
4. Chemical peels: These may or may not work for every individual. The chemical helps in peeling off the top layer of skin that is affected by the acne scars. Chemicals like AHA _Alpha Hydroxyl Acids) and TCA (Trichloracetic Acid) are commonly used for this. The application may often lead to irritated and red skin and you might not be able to step out in the sun for about two days. The chemicals will affect the skin based on the chemical percentage used. You will have to do some research on your own and find out which chemical will suit your skin the most. It might not guarantee results and is mostly based on multiple trials and errors( 6 ).
5. Micro-dermabrasion: This is a device that shoots finely ground crystals directly into your skin. Even though it causes damage, it evens the skin out by applying the same amount of pressure throughout the skin surface. While it pushes crystals into the skin, it also has a vacuum that pulls out the skin, stimulating collagen growth. This method has been proven to shows major success but may not work as a standalone solution for acne scars.
6. Laser treatment: There are 40 odd types of laser treatments available to cure acne scarring. The type of treatment usually depends on the basis of the type of scar and the dermatologist’s recommendation. The skin is exposed to laser at a high frequency which causes pits at the same depth. This stimulates even collagen growth, reducing the appearance of pimple marks and acne scars. But, this is a highly expensive treatment method.
7. Dermapen: This is a device that resembles a tattoo gun without the ink. A plastic pen filled with metal needles is rubbed all over the face and the needles penetrate the skin. This causes holes in the skin surface and allows collagen production. This treatment costs about one-third of laser treatment and takes about nine months to see visible results but it is a highly successful method.
8. Augmentation/fillers: This treatment works wonders in removing severe, deep-rooted scars. The top layer of skin in uprooted using a thin blade-like object to create a hole. This hole is then filled in with a substance and the depressed holes pop up and even out.
1. Cleanser: To take off all the dirt and debris from your skin surface, you need to clean it daily. Vitamin-infused Face Cleansers made out of ingredients like green tea, kale, spinach, and tea tree have proven to show great results in clearing out the skin pores. The cleansing agents run into the spots that are prone to acne and keep the skin hydrated and fresh.
2. Exfoliator: An exfoliator or scrub takes off the dead skin cells from its surface. It results in fresh, clean skin. An exfoliator made from kiwi seeds, coconut, sugar or honey works well for most skin types.
3. Serum: A serum brightens the skin and evens out the pigmentation of the skin.
4. Moisturize: Organic moisturizers hydrate the skin and prevent flaking and dullness. Use Water-based moisturizers for oily skin and cream based moisturizers for dry skin ( 7 ).
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera prevents aging, moisturizes skin, and reduces stretch marks and acne scars and regular application results in healthy glowing skin. It works great when combined with lemon juice, which has lightening properties.
Aloe vera consists of an important carbohydrate called Polysaccharides which stimulates the growth of new skin cells and heals and removes spots ( 8 ).
- Mix 1 tablespoon of Aloe Vera gel and 3 to 4 drops of lemon juice together.
- Massage this mixture on your face, leave it on for thirty minutes and then rinse it off.
- You can repeat this 2 times a week to reap maximum benefits.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil heals the skin quickly and gets rid of scars. Its anti-inflammatory property nourishes the skin and allows it to heal ( 9 ).
- Mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- You can also use 2 tablespoons of pulverized sea salt as an alternative to sugar.
- Massage this paste on your acne scars in a circular motion and then rinse it off.
- This will improve the overall texture and state of your skin, reducing the appearance of scars.
- Repeat this two times a week.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is rich in Vitamins A, C, E, and B2. It balances the pH level of the skin and regenerates it. This also lightens spots and helps in removing scars. It works well when combined with tea tree oil, milk or bananas ( 10 ).
- Mix together water and apple cider vinegar in equal proportions.
- Dip a cotton bud in this mixture and apply it to the affected areas.
- Leave it off for ten minutes and then wash it off.
- Apply a moisturizer immediately after.
You can also make a mixture out of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 3 cups of water and some honey. Apply this on your scars using a cotton bud and leave it on for 30 minutes and then rinse it off.
Repeat either method two times a week.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda works wonders in removing dead skin cells and making it look fresh. It cleanses pores, prevents new breakouts and makes the skin better for the long run.
- To treat your acne scars, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda and add a few drops of water to it to make a paste.
- Apply it directly onto the scar and leave it for one or two minutes.
- Repeat this two to three times a week and observe the difference.
5. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a great skin lightening ingredient. You can also add it directly onto the pimple to dry it out and prevent scarring.
- Take lemon juice and water in equal proportions and apply it directly on the scar.
- Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes for the solution to dry and then wash it off.
- Apply moisturizer immediately to your face to keep the skin hydrated.
You can also mix together 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 ½ tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Apply this mixture onto your skin gently and don’t rub too hard since it might irritate your skin. Wash it off and then rinse your face with water. Follow this remedy about two times a week.
Applying cucumber onto your skin will result in glowing and fresh skin that looks relaxed. It contains tons of water and hydrates the skin. Vitamins A and C are two of the essential contents of cucumber, among other important nutrients, that make it great for skin reparation.
- Put cucumber slices directly onto the acne scars and pimple marks for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the slices and wash your face with cold water.
- Apply a moisturizer afterward.
- Repeat this two to three times a week.
7. Egg Whites
Egg whites help in removing dead skin cells and kill acne bacteria present on your face. It contains a protein that helps speed up the healing process, enabling the skin to recover quickly.
- Crack one or two eggs and separate the egg white from the yolk into different bowls.
- Apply the egg white onto the problem areas and leave it on till it dries.
- Wash your face.
- Repeat this twice a week.
Note: If you’re allergic to egg whites, skip this remedy.
8. Ice Cubes
Applying ice cubes directly on your scars can reduce redness and help fade dark spots. It makes the skin appear fresher and more hydrated.
Put an ice cube in a clean cloth and rub it on your scars for 10 to 15 minutes every morning for 2 weeks.
You can also freeze already boiled green tea and add one or two drops of tea tree oil to it. Apply this ice cube directly on the scar. This will help in fighting bacteria and will reduce unwanted swelling and redness.
9. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has been known to contain anti-bacterial properties that are similar to benzoyl peroxide (a common acne medication). But it also hydrates the skin instead of drying it out or irritating it.
Dip a Q-tip in some tea tree oil and apply it on the problem areas. Repeat this twice a day for a week to see results ( 11 ).
10. Green Tea
Green Tea is popularly used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing properties. It works wonders in removing acne scars and pimple marks. You can find green tea extract gels in drugstores ( 12 ).
Apply a tiny amount of the gel onto the affected area and let it absorb into your skin. Make sure that the gel is made up of 2% green tea.
11. Potato Juice
Potato is a well-known bleaching agent. It helps in removing any dark spots and discoloration. A homemade face mask made with lemon juice will help in speedy removal of acne scars.
For normal skin, grate one potato and squeeze the juice out of it. To this, add ½ a lemon worth of juice and mix it well. Apply this onto your skin and let it dry. Once dry, wash it off and apply moisturizer.
If you have sensitive skin, add 1 tablespoon of raw honey to the potato juice and lemon juice mixture and apply as thick a coat on your scars as possible. Leave it on for 30 minutes f till it dries and then rinse it off.
For people with oily or combination skins, add 2 tablespoons of rice flour to the potato and lemon juice mixture to make a thick paste. The rice flour lightens the skin and absorbs the excess oils and sebum on the skin surface. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and helps in boosting collagen and elasticity. You can store this paste in the fridge and use it for three to five days after you make it.
All of these face masks work well for scars, dark spots and hyperpigmentation. You can use these twice a week for two months to see results. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer to your skin after you wash off the mask ( 13 ).
Other than these tips you also need to pay close attention to what you consume. Eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. Try to eat a balanced diet. It will provide your body with the required nutrients in sufficient quantities. Combining a balanced diet with the aforementioned remedies will definitely give you astounding results.
The key to getting clear and healthy skin is to understand your skin. This is not easy. You need to determine whether your skin is oily, dry or a combination of the two. You will need to test different products and try several skincare routines to find out what works best for your skin. Remember that what works best for someone, may not work for you. It’s all about trial and error and you need to be patient through this journey. This is why you should try a combination of the tips and remedies mentioned above and see what benefits your skin the most.
Always consult an aesthetician or dermatologist before you choose to undergo any major treatment. Consult a dietician to figure out the proportion of the foods you must be eating. Remember that it takes time to observe results. So don’t lose give up halfway through the process.