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
Take notes as the expert speaks.
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 from pimples, you can get hyperpigmentation—that means the skin can get dark because of the acne.
The second reason is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which is a bit more complex. After the acne has healed, the pimple heals with a black spot. This happens because too much melanin gets deposited in the damaged area and the cluster causes excessive darkness.
The third reason is called, excoriee. This happens to those people who have a habit of bursting or scratching their pimples. The force and pressure on the skin causes irritation and thus, leads to unfading dark spots.
And while these dark spots may come off as a stubborn issue with barely any solutions, there are actually a few relatively easy ways to tackle them! Whether you prefer the organic route or the chemical path, we’ve got a whole lot of intel for you. All you got to do is scroll down to discover it all.
Home remedies to get rid of dark spots
#1 Pamper yourself with papaya
Famous far and wide for everything it does for the gut, this natural exfoliant that’s rich in AHAs also helps with cell turnover. We’re talking about its ability to remove the top layer of the skin and produce new ones. So, if the melanin has accumulated in one specific skin area, bid those dark chunks adieu by rubbing mashed papaya on it. Scrub the fruit on the affected areas, wait till it dries and then get going with a rinse. And guess what? Once done, you’ll be a step closer to an even skin tone!
This remedy leaves an unmatched radiance and is suitable for all skin types.
#2 Turmeric does the turnover task
They say, old is gold and this unfailing yellow spice does the magic—just like you’ve heard. Dr. Modi, who approves this ingredient says: "One of the things people use is turmeric, or haldi on their face when it comes to marks and acne and it works really well. Some people apply it with a little bit of chandan and multani mitti.” Making for a perfect dermis saviour, this easily accessible ingredient has barely ever let anyone down. Having been used for centuries now, turmeric casts its charm on digestive drawbacks and the dark spots domain as well. All you need to do is add 2 tablespoons of turmeric to 1 tablespoon of honey, mix and apply the mask for around 20 minutes. Next, just allow the pack to prove its hype.
#3 Aloe vera gel an unmatched reliant
If you have not already been wooed by the benefits of aloe vera, it’s never too late. According to Dr. Modi, “aloe vera works really well because it has an antibacterial property that works for acne.” With anti-inflammatory agendas, the gel is a dream come true for those who struggle with dark spots and pimples. If you’re on the hunt for an unmatched aloe solution, nothing does the role like Lakmé’s 9 To 5 Naturale Aloe Aqua Gel.
So, whether you opt to make packaged goodness a part of selfcare schedule, or choose the natural path; applying it directly from a leaf, or plan to make it a part of your diet (we love a good aloe juice) — this tried and tested ingredient can be relied on for all your skincare woes. So, when in doubt just aloe vera it out.
#4 Tomatoes to the rescue
This delectable taste enhancer also extends its magic to the skin TLC shelf for it helps revitalise skin that has dark spots. Since, it is rich in lycopene; a naturally occurring chemical that's a powerful antioxidant, it not only reduces dark spots but also makes for an incredible natural sunscreen! So, the next time you can’t find your SPF, turn to your kitchen and get your hands on some tomatoes and follow these steps:
Simply slather a small amount of the pulp on to your skin and gently massage in a circular motion for a few minutes. Once done, wipe, and you'll be good to go and glow.
#5 Buttermilk has your back
Summer’s favourite beverage and your Indian meals’ go-to side can do much more than make for a refreshing sip! It’s super-rich in lactic acid and is a great exfoliant for dead skin cells. Plus, it helps brighten skin to reduce 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. And well, prepare to wish all those dark spots caused by pimples, toodles!
However, PSA: Dr. Modi cautions against using every single home remedy for treating dark spots caused by pimples. She explains, “For homemade remedies, I would suggest using something that suits you. While doing your research, remember that it’s not necessary that one homemade remedy suits everybody. If it's not suiting you, don't continue using it because I've had patients who after trying home remedies have come back with burns, inflammation, more acne, and irritation.”
Also, we all know repeating, recreating and getting into the process of making DIY packs and pastes can get monotonous. So, we’re here by your side with the scientific way out. Here are the best products in town and this is how you can integrate them into your skincare routine to treat dark spots caused by pimples—without breaking the bank or a sweat.
#1 Vitamin C for the win
Synonymous with best-in-class results, 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, leading to a compliment-worthy complexion. All you have to do is plug-in a Vitamin C serum into your skincare regime to start seeing noticeable improvements in just a few weeks. So, dark spots…your time is up.
#2 Retinol is on our radar
This skin miracle has etched a fabulous impression far and wide and now it also brings its greatness here. The presence of retinol in any cream or serum has the ability to speed up exfoliation, promoting skin regeneration. Interesting? We bet it is. Acting as an unparalleled ingredient when it comes to transforming skin texture and recovering skin-damage, retinol, when used in the right amounts, can treat dark spots caused by pimples, like a breeze. And the added bonus? The ingredient will also ensure your pores look refined, and your acne is under control—implying that dark spots may be out of the window (and off your skin) forever!
#3 Salicylic acid is the saviour you need
If the dark spots caused by pimples are bothering you, lean back on this exfoliating agent that removes acne-causing bacteria and manages dark spots like a pro. Known to be an all-rounder when it comes to all acne-related issues, opt for a salicylic acid cleanser and watch your skin transform like never before.
Read on as we throw light on your most pressing questions 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 adapalene, 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 micro needling, 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 states, “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 professional otherwise you may get burns.