How to get rid of acne scars once and for all according to an expert

Reviewed by Dr. Pallavi Sule

Dermatologist and Aesthic Physician

Written by Urvi DalalSep 07, 2020

Acne and acne scars are a woman’s worst nightmare. With a regular skincare routine, it is indeed possible to keep acne under control and treat existing breakouts. But it is dealing with acne scars that can really give people sleepless nights.

But just because they are slightly more stubborn and difficult to deal with does not mean it cannot be done. And to help you figure out how to get rid of acne scars effectively, we spoke to a leading dermatologist, Dr. Pallavi Sule from Mumbai.

Read on as we discuss everything you need to do to get rid of acne and acne scars, which will help your skin look clear, glowing and flawless.

Before we get into the details of how to get rid of acne scars, let’s take a look at what exactly acne scars are…

According to Dr. Sule, “Acne is the most prevalent skin condition noticed amongst the younger population which continues well into adulthood. The persistent, inflammatory acne further progresses into acne scars. These scars are formed due to the healing process that happens at the site of red, raised, pus-filled pimples. These scars are permanent and the severity depends upon the delay in starting acne treatment. Acne scars are the result of loss or gain of collagen at the site of active acne.”

The most common causes of acne scars

  • Clogged pores
  • Accumulation of dead skin cells
  • Popping Pimples
  • Touching the pimples
  • Wrong skincare and makeup products

Types of acne scars

Just like acne, not all acne scars are the same. In order to get rid of acne scars, it is really important to find out about the different types of acne scars to figure out the best treatment to help heal them quickly.

i) Hyperpigmentation:

Isn’t a traditional type of scarring, hence it is slightly easier to deal with. This is the condition where parts of your skin appear darker and discoloured, as a healing reaction to the inflammation left behind by acne. Hyperpigmentation fades away over time if you continue to follow your usual skincare routine and use a sunblock every single day.

ii) Keloids:

Are a type of acne scar where your skin appears discoloured, bumpy and raised. This raised bumpy skin is caused when your body is trying to repair itself post inflammation but ends up producing too many cells in the area.

iii) Ice pick scars:

Are the tiny depressions and punctures on the surface of your skin. This type of scarring is the result of the loss of collagen in a particular area that forces the skin to collapse and causes those dents. This type of scarring usually follows cystic or hormonal acne and is most prevalent on your cheeks and jawline.

iv) Rolling scars:

Are a severe form of ice pick scars, where it leaves your skin with a wavy, uneven texture. They are not very deep and become almost invisible on stretching your skin. Being a result of long-term inflammatory acne, this type of scarring tends to become a lot more pronounced as you grow older and your skin starts to show signs of aging.

v) Boxcar Scars:

This type of scarring is pretty common among people with severe acne and is a result of irritating papules and pustules. Boxcar scars are shallow but they display sharper edges and look like you were injured by a fingernail.

Ingredients that help get rid of acne scars

Following a skincare routine to get rid of acne scars is quite obvious. But fortifying your usual skincare routine by using certain skincare ingredients will prove to be a lot more beneficial. Dr. Sule says, “To prevent scarring, it is very important to prevent the occurrence of acne. Thus, use products with active ingredients like salicylic acid, retinols, antibiotic gels.” Here are some ingredients that you need to include in your skincare routine ASAP to not just reduce acne, but also keep scarring to a minimum.

i) Salicylic acid

This is an extremely popular skincare ingredient used in anti-acne products. Using a salicylic acid-infused face wash helps extract dirt from your pores, reduces inflammation and redness caused by acne and thereby reduces the chances of scarring.

ii) Retinoids

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, using retinoids works as excellent treatment. This is because retinoids work really well to unclog pores and allow your acne creams and gels to penetrate better into your skin and show results. They also prevent breakouts by eliminating dead skin cells, thus reducing the chances of breakouts and in turn, the chances of scarring.

iii) Lactic acid

Another great skincare ingredient that you should include in your skincare routine if you are wondering how to remove acne scars is lactic acid. This is because lactic acid has the effect of a really gentle chemical peel and works to draw out dead skin cells and other impurities lodged in your pores. Additionally, it helps reduce the uneven texture of the skin and thereby smoothens out scars. If you have hyperpigmentation, you should include lactic acid because it helps lighten the darkened scar tissue.

iv) Niacinamide

The main purpose of niacinamide, which is nothing but a form of vitamin B3 is to keep your skin healthy and nourished. It also acts as an excellent anti-inflammatory agent and keeps acne at bay. This is why including a niacinamide based skincare product in your routine works really well in helping to reduce acne scars.

In-clinic cosmetic treatments to get rid of acne scars

Sometimes the acne scars are so stubborn that no amount of skincare products or other home remedies help to effectively eliminate this problem. This is when it becomes important for you to visit a dermatologist to undergo a cosmetic procedure for the same. According to Dr. Sule, “There are many procedures available to choose from the range of treatments. The most common ones are as follows -

i) Chemical peels:

This treatment helps to thoroughly exfoliate the skin, which in turn helps get rid of the superficial scars

ii) Microdermabrasion or skin polishing:

Another really great treatment that helps to deeply exfoliate your skin to get rid of surface-level scars.

iii) Dermaroller:

This treatment involves the use of a small handheld device, which is then rolled over pre-anesthetized skin. The main purpose of this treatment is to rebuild & remodel the collagen of the skin, which is really effective to get healthy and youthful skin as well as prevent scarring.

iv) Fractional Co2 laser:

This is a laser cosmetic treatment, which helps remodel the collagen tissue in order to reduce acne scars.

v) MNRF:

This treatment, which is also known as micro-needling radiofrequency, helps reduce the appearance of scars by tightening your skin.”

Frequently asked questions about acne scars

Q. Do acne scars go away?

A. Having acne scars means that you are dealing with a sort of skin damage that is not superficial. This is why it is important to visit a dermatologist to get proper and dedicated treatment. You can definitely try topical treatments and home remedies, but if the problem persists and you do not see any improvement, then it is best to visit a doctor before the scars become too deep-rooted.

Q. How long does it take for acne scars to fade?

A. It depends on the type of scar in question. If you have hyperpigmentation, which is a mild discolouration of the skin, then it fades away on its own in about three to six months. But if you are dealing with the other type of scars, then it depends on the level of scarring and how soon you go in for the treatment.

Q. Does vitamin C help reduce acne scars?

A. Yes, the regular application of vitamin C does have a major impact on the scars. This is because vitamin C helps increase the collagen in the skin, which is really important to improve the texture of the skin and make it appear plump, which aids the process of reducing scars.