Whenever you get acne, you want to get rid of it quickly. But sometimes, even after the acne is gone, acne scars remain on the skin. This is frustrating, but not uncommon.
Getting rid of these dark spots on the skin first begins with understanding their cause.
A pimple on the skin is technically a form of inflammation. As your skin heals and new skin cells are formed, cells that help restore the skin’s smooth surface may contain too much melanin.
Melanin gives your skin its color, and when some cells have more melanin than others, dark patches of skin appear. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Anything that causes prolonged inflammation of the skin, such as picking or squeezing blemishes, increases the likelihood of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
People with naturally dark skin are more prone to this disease. Read on to learn more about how to treat dark spots after acne and how to avoid them in the future.
Dark spots and scars
Treating acne blackheads is different than treating acne scars. Scars require tissue damage and overgrowth. Scars can be difficult to remove completely and may fade over time, but often remain visible.
But acne black spots are flat on the surface of the skin. They won’t cause long-term damage to your skin cells, pores, or follicles.
It may take some time, but the dark spots will become lighter over time and disappear completely. It takes from 3 months to 2 years before they disappear.
This doesn’t mean you have to wait forever hoping your dark spots will disappear. There are home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) products, and even skin treatments that you can try to get rid of them quickly.
If you want to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, you can start with home remedies. Unfortunately, most of these home remedies have only anecdotal evidence to support them. Most of the time, trying them out is a little harmful.
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which lightens the skin and even restores skin tone. Vitamin C has been proven to be an effective pigment remover that reduces melanin production.
If you look online, you will come across many fans of using aloe vera extract to get rid of blackheads from acne. It’s true that aloe vera has special healing properties for your skin.
Animal studies have found that regular consumption of aloe vera stabilizes melanin levels in cells, but more research is needed to know the extent of this effect.
Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract is another natural product that helps remove dark spots.
No studies have been conducted on the topical use of grape seed extract for this purpose. But there is a study showing that taking grape seed extract for 6 months is effective in people with melasma, a skin condition similar to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
According to research from trusted sources, treating any dark spot should start with a vigilant sun protection regimen. Applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, regardless of whether it’s cloudy or humid, will prevent further damage to your skin.
If home remedies don’t work, there are a number of OTC treatments for dark spots. The active ingredients in these types of products vary widely, but some are more effective than others.
These ingredients stop melanin production in dark spots, peel off old skin and promote new growth. But some products run the risk of removing too much pigment from the skin, resulting in hypopigmentation.
Talk to your dermatologist before trying an OTC product to get rid of dark spots caused by acne.
After getting your doctor’s approval, look for products that contain a blend of the following ingredients:
retinoid (vitamin A)
Vitamin E (tocopherol)
alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as mandelic acid
As a next step from OTC treatments, you may want to consider treatments that are only available at a dermatologist’s office. Since post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation does not pose a threat to your health, treating dark spots is not covered by health insurance.
When considering this treatment, keep in mind that most, if not all, costs will be out of pocket.
Chemical peels are designed to remove damaged skin cells and reveal younger-looking skin underneath. Costs can vary, but you’ll pay $600 or more out of pocket.
Chemical peeling involves applying various acidic solutions to the face. Then the peel is removed and the skin cell layer is removed.
Microdermabrasion usually costs around $150. It uses a device that either blasts tiny particles into specific areas of your skin or applies a diamond-tipped device to the skin.
Microdermabrasion is a next-level exfoliation treatment designed to remove blemishes and leave the skin smooth and even.
It is often used to treat acne, including blackheads. This treatment is considered low risk and minimally invasive.
Laser skin resurfacing uses different types of lasers to remove dead skin from the body and encourage new cells to grow in the deeper layers of the skin. Lasers are a way to break up scar tissue and treat dark spots caused by acne.
The cost of this treatment varies depending on the type of laser used and the number of treatments required. It will cost 1000-2000 USD per treatment.
Be careful when using certain products that claim to treat dark spots caused by acne.
One thing is that some of these products have strong retinol ingredients. These ingredients work by thinning the skin layer. This can make the skin look smoother and more even, but it also makes it more susceptible to sun damage.
Make sunscreen a part of your beauty routine every day.
Also, remember that not every beauty product is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Be especially careful with products bought internationally or sold online.
Some cosmetics contain ingredients such as mercury, but these ingredients are not disclosed on the label. Use your own discretion and buy only from vendors you trust.
When to see a doctor?
If you find that dark spots are recurring, or if these dark spots are affecting your daily life, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider.
If you’re concerned about your dark spots and don’t have a dermatologist, you can find one in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
By creating a treatment plan with your dermatologist, you can actually see the dark spots from acne. A professional encounter with a plan can make all the difference.
As the acne heals, your body sometimes produces cells that contain too much melanin to replace the damaged skin. This results in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which we sometimes simply call dark spots.
There are home remedies, OTC options, and even some skin treatments designed to get rid of these dark spots quickly. If you’re concerned about acne breakouts, talk to your doctor.