If you thought pimple-related woes were limited to the appearance of the pimple itself, and the occasional scar it'd leave behind, think again. Because dark spots caused by pimples are a very real problem, and even though not everyone gets them, they can be a pain to deal with.
But before we get started, how are dark spots caused by pimples? We turned to dermatologist and trichologist Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi for a few answers. Basically, when a pimple pops up on your skin, it's technically a form of inflammation. And as skin heals and new cells form, it may be that sometimes, the cells that have been sent to help restore your skin's smooth surface contain too much melanin.
ICYMI, melanin gives your skin its colour, and when certain cells have more melanin than the others, the part of that skin becomes darker –– hence, leaving you with some annoying dark spots. Also, the adage is true –– picking or squeezing a pimple can increase your chances of getting dark spots caused by pimples!
- Causes of dark spots
- Home remedies to get rid of dark spots
- Best ingredients to treat dark spots
- FAQs about dark spots caused by pimples
Causes of dark spots
Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi further explained the causes of dark spots caused by pimples, adding that, "We get dark spots because of pimples. There are a lot of reasons why they happen because of pimples, but the most common one is that when they're healing, the body overproduces melanin cells to repair the damaged skin. When the skin is healing with pimples, you can get hyperpigmentation — that means the skin can get dark because of the acne.
The second reason is something called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. After the acne has healed, the pimple heals with a black spot. This happens because too much melanin is deposited in the damaged area.
The third reason is something called acne excoriee. This happens to those people who have a habit of breaking or scratching their pimples on their own. The skin becomes dark because of this.``
While it may sound like this is a very specific skin issue that you can't control, there are actually a few easy ways to get rid of them with ease. And if you'd like to try the various kinds –– from home remedies to chemical peels –– we've got a whole lotta fact for you. Ahead, we're letting you in on how to remove dark spots caused by pimples with ease.
Home remedies to get rid of dark spots
It's not just good for your gut! A natural exfoliant rich in AHAs, papaya removes the top layers of the skin cells and produces new ones. So if excessive melanin in certain areas is your issue, kiss those dark spots goodbye simply by rubbing mashed papaya on the affected area, wait till the pulp dries up, and rinse. Suitable for all skin types, the fruit will also leave a soft, natural glow on your face.
Grandma's advice never gets old! And it’s approved by Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi; she says, “One of the things people use is turmeric, or haldi on their face when it comes to marks and acne, it works really well. Some people apply it with a little bit of chandan and multani mitti with it.” When in doubt, turn to haldi. Having been used for centuries for treating inflammation and digestive problems, the versatile spice also helps you get rid of dark spots caused by pimples. Plus, you'll easily get it in your kitchen!
All you need to do is add 2 tablespoons of turmeric to 1 tablespoon of honey, apply the mask for around 20 minutes, and watch the magic happen.
3. Aloe vera gel
The benefits of aloe vera just keep increasing. According to Dr. Modi, “Aloe vera works really well because it has an antibacterial property that works for acne also, so you can directly apply pure aloe vera.” With anti-inflammatory properties, the gel works like a dream for those who have dark spots and pimples.
Whether you ingest aloe vera, or apply it directly from a leaf, or even use an OTC gel –– the tried and tested ingredient needs to be a ride-or-die for all your skincare woes.
While a great addition to BLTs, tomatoes are also incredible for revitalizing skin that has dark spots. Since they are rich in lycopene, a naturally occurring chemical that's a powerful antioxidant –– and also a great natural sunscreen! –– The fruit helps reduce the occurrence of dark spots.
Simply slather a small amount of the pulp on to your skin and gently massage your skin in a circular motion for a few minutes, wipe, and you'll be good to go!
5. Almond Oil
Here's a fun fact: if you've got oily skin or are worried about oil clogging your pores, almond oil is non-comedogenic in nature and won't clog them! Now that we've gotten past that, the oil is one of the richest sources of vitamin E out there, which reduces the appearance of dark spots caused by pimples and improves skin texture.
A few drops of oil added to your skin can drastically reduce the appearance of dark spots, and will help with your skin texture in the long run too!
If you thought buttermilk was only good for being an accompaniment to your parathas, here's a news flash! It's actually super-rich in lactic acid, and is a great exfoliant for dead skin cells. Plus, it helps brighten skin to help fade dark spots, while maintaining the skin's pH levels. All you need to do is apply buttermilk to your face with a ball of cotton, let it sit for 20 minutes, and wash it off. Goodbye, dark spots caused by pimples; hello, clear, glowing skin!
However, Dr. Modi cautions against using every single home remedy for treating dark spots caused by pimples. She explains, “For homemade remedies, I would suggest please use something that suits you. It is not necessary that one homemade remedy suits everybody, so when you do research for homemade remedies, remember that it's to each their own. If it's not suiting you, don't continue using it because I've had patients who have done these homemade remedies and they've come back with burns, inflammation, more acne, and irritation."
If you have a recurring issue with dark spots caused by pimples though, sometimes, it can definitely be annoying to repeat DIY procedures every single time. But don't worry, we've got your back! Ahead, we're listing down a few ingredients you can look out for to incorporate into your daily skincare routine, that will help you treat dark spots caused by pimples, without breaking the bank.
Best ingredients to treat dark spots
1. Vitamin C
You know there was a reason we mentioned papaya and tomato above! Vitamin C is a highly effective ingredient when it comes to fading dark spots. Known to impede melanin production, the versatile ingredient can help fade hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and leads to an even-toned complexion.
Add a vitamin C serum to your skincare regimen, and you'll start seeing noticeable improvements to dark spots in about a couple of weeks.
Creams and serums that contain retinol speed up the exfoliation of the skin, and promote the growth of new skin. A fantastic ingredient when it comes to transforming skin texture and recovering skin-damage, retinol, when used in the right amounts, is vital when it comes to treating dark spots caused by pimples. Added bonus? The ingredient will also ensure your pores look refined, and your acne will get under control –– meaning you might never have to deal with dark spots again!
3. Salicylic Acid
An exfoliating agent that removes acne-causing bacteria and takes care of dark spots like a pro, salicylic acid is an all-rounder when it comes to all acne-related issues. Opt for a salicylic acid face cleanser and watch your skin transform from dull, dark spot-ridden, to glowing, clear, and even-toned!
FAQs about dark spots caused by pimples
Q. Are there any dermatologist-approved treatments to remove dark spots caused by pimples?
A. Dr. Modi shares, “When the patients come to us, if they don't have very dark spots, we first give them certain creams. If the patients have acne along with dark spots, we give them preparations that have adapelene, benzoyl peroxide and more to use at home. Other combinations like kojic acid are also given to treat dark spots.” She further adds, “Sometimes, the creams don't work, so along with the creams, we do treatments that are available in the clinic. We do microdermabrasion, where we use aluminium oxide crystals, which are abraded on the surface of the skin, thus removing the superficial layer and lightening the skin.”
“The next treatment done is called chemical peeling, where we use glycolic peels and salicylic peels, all of which work really well to reduce dark spots. We also do dermaroller treatments and microneedling treatments, where we put the cream on the roller and roll it on the face, which causes collagen remodelling and helps develop new skin. There are also laser treatments available that reduce dark spots."
Q. Are there any precautions to take while following treatments for dark spots caused by pimples?
A. This is a vehement yes! According to Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi, “When anyone has acne or acne pigmentation or dark spots, please visit a dermatologist or a skin specialist because many people use OTC preparations which have steroids in them. There are a lot of side effects to using steroids on the face, like increasing acne and redness. Always be a little cautious and check what the ingredients are in these creams.”
She further continues, “Secondly, people use a lot of hydroquinone on the face for a few months, which initially can treat dark spots, but prolonged use can cause the skin to get darker. Always consult a dermatologist on how long the cream should be used. Also, if a dermatologist says 'use a cream at night', always use a cream at night. Tretinoin and hydroquinone can react with the sunlight, so never use something that's meant for the day at night. Also, use sunscreen even if you're indoors because if you're doing a treatment to remove dark spots and forget to use sunscreen, the dark spots can come back. If you're using any treatments, always do it with a trained person otherwise you may get burns.