Identify what type of scar you have. If your scars are depressed or pitted, then you may need a dermatologist's help in removing them. Different types of scars respond well to different types of treatment.
Rolling scars are sloped. They may give your skin a wavy appearance.
Boxcar scars are broad with well-defined ridges.
Icepick scars are small, narrow, and deep.
Get laser treatment. Mild or moderate scarring can be smoothed out using lasers. Ablative lasers vaporize the scar so that new skin can form in its place. Non-ablative lasers are used to stimulate collagen production to repair the skin around the scar.
This treatment works best with rolling and shallow boxcar scars.
Book an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss your options and talk about the potential risks and side-effects.
Opt for ablative laser treatment if you have deep scars, or non-ablative laser treatments if your scars are on the surface.
Ask your dermatologist for punch excision. If you have icepick or boxcar scars, your dermatologist may be able to remove them by using punch techniques. They will cut out the area around the scar and then allow it to heal into smooth skin.
Consider getting fillers. Acne scars can leave permanent indentations in your skin which are impossible to reverse. Filler injections can temporarily fill these indentations to help even out the skin's surface, but need to be repeated every four to six months.
Cover raised scars with silicone. Silicone sheets or gels can help reduce raised scars. Apply the silicone to the scar every night. Wash it off in the morning with a gentle cleanser. Over the period of several weeks, the skin will become more even.
Start with a cortisone cream. Cortisone creams help reduce inflammation of the skin and promote healing. Talk to your doctor to determine which kind of cortisone cream is right for you.
Cortisone creams are available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms. Only apply the cream to the affected skin, and be sure to read the labels for instructions on use.
Try an over-the-counter skin lightening cream for light skin tones. Lightening creams that contain ingredients such as kojic acid and arbutin can help safely lighten and fade skin hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars without causing damage or irritation.
Avoid products that contain hydroquinone, as this popular skin-lightening chemical can irritate your skin and has been labelled a potential carcinogen.
If you have darker skin, avoid lightening creams. They may permanently remove melanin from your skin, which can create a worse blemish.
Use glycolic or salicylic acid treatments. Glycolic and salicylic acids are found in many skincare products, such as creams, scrubs and ointments, as they are effective exfoliants which help skin to shed layers, bringing hyperpigmented skin to the surface, before helping it to disappear completely.
Use retinoid skin products. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives which are used in a wide array of skin care products treating fine lines and wrinkles, skin discoloration, and acne. Retinoids boost collagen production and speed up cell turnover, making them a great choice for targeting acne scars. These creams can be a little on the pricey side, but they are highly recommended by dermatologists for their fast, effective results.
You can purchase some retinoid creams over-the-counter, such as those produced by major skincare brands. However, stronger creams are available by prescription from your dermatologist.
The ingredients in retinoid creams are sensitive to the UVA rays in sunlight, so these creams should only be applied at night in order to protect your skin.
Think about microdermabrasion and glycol chemical peels. These treatments are not going to fade your acne scars overnight, as they can be quite harsh and the skin will take time to heal. However, they are definitely worth considering if your find that creams and lotions aren't working, or you're more concerned about evening out your skin tone.
A chemical peel involves having a concentrated acidic solution applied to the skin. It will burn away the top layers of skin, leaving fresh, new layers of skin underneath. Book an appointment with a dermatologist to get a glycolic chemical peel.
Microdermabrasion produces similar results, but it works by exfoliating the skin using a rotating wire brush.
Apply fresh lemon juice. Lemon juice has natural skin bleaching properties, and can help to effectively lighten your acne scars. Simply combine equal parts lemon juice and water and apply this liquid directly onto your scars, avoiding the surrounding skin. Wash off the lemon juice after 15 minutes.
Remember to moisturize immediately after washing off the juice, as the citric acid in the lemon can be very drying on the skin.
Lime juice, which also contains citric acid, can be used instead of lemon in a pinch.
Since lemon juice has a pH of 2 and skin's pH is 4.0-7.0, this method needs to be used carefully. If left on too long, or not diluted this can lead to significant chemical burns. Citrus juices also contains a chemical called Bergapten, which binds to DNA and allows UV radiation to damage skin more easily, so you need to watch your sun exposure if you have any citrus juice on your skin. Rinse it off before going into the sun, and wear sunscreen.
Consider exfoliating with baking soda. Baking soda can be used to exfoliate the skin and minimize the appearance of acne scars. All you need to do is mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of water to form a liquid paste. Apply this paste all over your face and use gentle circular motions to rub the baking soda into the skin, concentrating on the scarred areas, for about two minutes. Rinse off with warm water and pat the skin dry.
Some skin advocates suggest foregoing this method. The pH of baking soda is 7.0, which is far too basic for skin's pH. Optimal skin pH occurs between 4.7 and 5.5, which is an inhospitable environment for p. acne (the bacteria responsible for causing most acne). By raising the pH to a more basic level, p. acne is able to survive longer and cause more infection and inflammation. So try this method with care, and stop using it if it's not effective for you.
Use honey. Honey is a great natural solution for clearing up pimples and reducing the red marks they leave behind. This is because honey contains antibacterial properties and helps to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Raw or manuka honey is the most effective. It can be dabbed directly onto the scarred area, using a q-tip.
Honey is a great option for those with sensitive skin, as honey is non-irritating, and will moisturize your skin instead of drying it out, unlike other treatments.
Experiment with aloe vera. The sap of the aloe vera plant is a soothing natural substance which can be used to relieve many ailments, from burns to wounds to acne scars. Aloe vera helps to rejuvenate and moisturize the skin, encouraging acne scars to fade. It is possible to buy aloe vera products in the drugstore, but the best thing to do is buy an aloe vera plant and use the sap from a broken leaf. This gel-like sap can be applied directly on the scarring, and there is no need to wash off.
Use an ice cube. Ice is an extremely simple home remedy which can help to fade acne scars by soothing the inflamed skin and reducing redness. To use, just wrap an ice cube in a clean cloth or piece of paper towel and hold it against the scarred skin for a minute or two, til the area starts to feel numb. Sometimes it can burn.
Make sandalwood paste. Sandalwood is known for its skin healing properties, and is easy to prepare at home. Just mix one tablespoon of pure sandalwood powder with a few drops of rosewater or milk to form a paste. Apply this paste to the affected area and leave it on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing. Repeat this process daily until your scars have vanished.
Alternatively, you can mix the sandalwood powder with a little honey and use this as a spot treatment on individual scars.
Try apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar helps manage the pH of your skin, improving its appearance over time and helping to reduce the appearance of red marks and scars. Dilute the vinegar to half its strength with water and apply it to the affected area every day with a cotton ball until the scars begin to fade.
Protect your skin from the sun. Ultraviolet rays from the sun stimulate pigment-producing skin cells,which can worsen the appearance of acne scars. If you spend time in the sun, protect your skin by applying sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and keeping to the shade as much as possible.
Use gentle skincare products. A lot of the time, people are so desperate to get rid of acne scars and skin discolorations that they will use all manner of abrasive products and methods which can irritate the skin and make the situation worse. Try to listen to your skin — if it's reacting badly to a particular product, you should stop using that product immediately. Stick to gentle facial cleansers, make-up removers, moisturizers and scrubs that soothe your skin rather than inflame it.
A big mistake people make is applying moisturizers to dry skin. Apply your moisturizer to WET/damp skin to guarantee that the moisturizer can work its way into your pores.
Instead of using a regular moisturizer, mix some of your favorite facial cream with some Aloe Vera Gel. Aloe is a natural humectant which means that it sucks all the moisture from the air onto your face. This will leave your face hydrated.
Avoid using very hot water when cleaning your face. Hot water can be very drying to the skin, so turn the temperature down a few notches.
You should also avoid using rough facecloths, sponges and loofahs on the face, as these are too harsh and can irritate the skin.
Exfoliate regularly. Exfoliating helps to slough off dead skin, revealing the fresh, soft new skin underneath. As acne scarring usually only effects the top layers of skin, exfoliating can speed up the fading process. You can exfoliate using a specific facial scrub, just make sure it's designed for sensitive skin.
Alternatively, you can exfoliate using a gentle washcloth and some warm water by moving the washcloth around your face in small circular motions.
You should exfoliate at least once a week and at most once a day, though if your skin is very dry you may want to keep it to 3 to 4 times a week.
Avoid picking at spots and scars. Though it may be tempting, picking at your scars interrupts the process by which your skin naturally heals and can worsen their appearance. Picking at existing pimples, meanwhile, can cause your skin to scar in the first place, as bacteria from your hands may be transferred onto your face, causing it to become inflamed and infected. Therefore, picking should be avoided at all costs.
Drink plenty of water and follow a balanced diet. Although eating healthily and staying hydrated isn't going to magically make acne scars disappear, it will allow your body to perform at its best and help skin to heal itself. Water will flush toxins from the body and keep skin looking plump and firm, so you should stay hydrated. Vitamins such as A, C and E will also help to feed the skin and keep it hydrated.
Vitamin A is found in vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and carrots and vitamins C and E are found in oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and avocados.
You should try to avoid greasy, fatty and starchy foods as much as possible as they will not do your skin any favors.