Searching for the best way to treat and prevent acne scars? With this guide, you can get a handle on scarring for clearer, smoother-looking skin.

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Acne Scars: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

06/05/20228 min read

It’s no secret that acne can be frustrating to deal with. But while acne itself is often temporary, the acne scars it sometimes leaves behind can be permanent.

These scars usually develop as a normal part of the skin's healing process. But just because it's normal to experience scarring after having acne doesn't make it any easier to manage. Having acne scars, especially on your face, can be uncomfortable and affect your self-esteem.

The good news is there are better skin days ahead.

Our team at Bodewell is dedicated to creating effective solutions for skin conditions. In this article, you'll learn all you need to know about treating your acne scarring at home and, most importantly, how to prevent it in the future.

Table Of Contents

What Is Acne Scarring?

Woman with acne scars on her face

Acne affects between 40 to 50 million people in the U.S. alone. This makes it one of the most common and frustrating skin conditions. While it often affects adolescents, adults who are long past the teenage phase can also experience it.

If you have persistent acne, you've likely tried everything to get rid of it. While different treatments can clear acne over time, the blemishes can also lead to scarring.

Acne scars are very common on the face, chest, and back area. Most of the time, acne scarring is treated by using topical creams or consulting a dermatologist. But before you can begin that journey, it’s essential to understand what causes these scars in the first place.

What Causes Acne Scars?

Woman examining her acne scars in a mirror

Pimples are a normal part of skin cycles for many people. As we discussed above, acne is a common skin condition. But just because you get acne doesn’t mean those blemishes will turn into scars.

So, what makes one person more susceptible to getting acne scars than another?

Acne scars are typically the result of inflamed blemishes caused by pores clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The pores swell and eventually cause a follicle wall break.

If you have shallow lesions, they are usually minor and heal quickly. However, if there is a deep break in the pore's wall, infected material can spill out into the surrounding tissue, causing deeper lesions.

The skin attempts to repair these deep lesions by forming new collagen fibers. Typically, these repairs are not as smooth and flawless as the original skin, hence the noticeable scarring.

You're often at a higher risk of developing scars if you:

  • Have inflammatory acne — This type of acne is usually swollen, painful, and red, and it tends to penetrate deep into the skin's layers, leaving it damaged once the acne clears.
  • Don't treat inflammatory acne quickly — Unfortunately, the longer you have acne, the higher your risk of developing scars.
  • Have a family history of acne scars — When it comes to acne and scarring, genetics play a significant role.
  • Pick or pop your acne — This usually increases inflammation and the chances of scarring.

While we may know the causes of acne scarring, it's impossible to predict who will develop it. People who have none of the risk factors might scar, while those who have risk factors might not.

The good news is that, whether or not you’re at risk of scarring, if you find yourself struggling with acne scars, there are effective treatments you can try at home.

But, before we get there, let’s take a look at the different types of acne scars you're likely to deal with.

Different Types Of Acne

Acne manifests itself in a variety of ways. Whiteheads and blackheads are common and, in most cases, heal quickly. Then, there are other types that can cause scarring.

Here's a closer look at the different levels of acne and scarring you may experience.

  • Papules — Pink and red bumps that hurt when touched. These are usually on the milder side and don't cause deep acne marks.
  • Pustules — Pus-filled skin lesions. They have a red base and a white or yellow top. Similar to papules, these usually don't cause deep acne scars
  • Nodules — Solid lesions. They are larger than papules and pustules, and they can be more painful because they extend deeper into the skin. In addition, scarring can be very noticeable.
  • Cysts — Lumps that form deep within the skin. They're painful, filled with pus, and cause deep scarring.

Now that we understand the different types of acne and the level of scarring you may experience with each, let's focus on how to treat them.

4 Ways To Treat Acne Scars At Home

1) Use Topical Creams

Young woman treating her skin with a cream

Topical products can help kill bacteria and reduce the amount of oil in your skin. This can reduce the appearance of scars over time.

When researching over-the-counter products, look for those with retinoid, benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid (SA). When applied topically, SA can help clear your pores, reduce swelling and redness, and exfoliate your skin. It’s known as one of the most effective acne scar treatments.

If you find yourself using over-the-counter treatments that aren’t working, consult a dermatologist. They will likely examine your skin and recommend creams, ointments, chemical peels, or a unique blend of treatments to cater to your specific needs.

2) Improve General Skin Care

There are many different skincare routines, which usually include cleansers, exfoliation, serums, eye creams, moisturizers, sunscreens, etc.

We’d like to highlight a couple of key areas of good skincare practices.


Woman exfoliating her skin

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the skin's surface, giving it a smoother, more even appearance. While exfoliating will not specifically remove acne scars, it can help improve uneven texture.

We recommend exfoliating your face and other affected areas at least two to three times per week (provided your skin can handle it).

Using Sunscreen

Whether or not you have acne scars, it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, especially when you’ll be out in the sun.

When it comes to acne scarring, using sunscreen can help reduce the contrast between scarred and unscarred skin.

3) Reduce Inflammation

Large, inflamed acne blemishes are far more likely to leave scars than smaller, uninflamed breakouts and blackheads.

The goal is to reduce inflammation and avoid doing anything that will aggravate your skin further. For example, scrubbing too hard and using harsh skincare products should be avoided.

4) Stay Hydrated

Water has incredible cleansing and revitalizing properties. So, drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways to treat acne scars naturally.

Dead skin cells are easier to shed when your body is properly hydrated because your skin grows faster and smoother.

3 Ways To Prevent Acne Scars

1) Treat Acne As Soon As Possible

Begin treating your acne as soon as you see any early signs of it. Quick treatment keeps breakouts to a minimum and prevents acne from progressing to a more severe form.

We recommend seeing your doctor right away if your acne isn't improving with over-the-counter acne treatments.

2) Avoid Touching Blemishes

However tempting, avoid picking or squeezing any kind of acne. Doing so can push debris deeper into your skin, causing an infection to spread to other tissues and worsening inflammation. This is especially true for deep and severe blemishes, such as nodules and cysts.

While it can be challenging to resist touching your skin, remember that popping pimples can delay healing time and increase your chances of developing a scar. It’s always best to allow the blemish to heal naturally.

3) Don’t Pick At Scabs

Picking at scabs should be avoided as well.

A scab is the skin's natural "bandage," protecting a wound while it heals. Picking it off a wound before it is ready slows healing and increases the likelihood of scarring.

Say Hello To Healthy Skin

Happy woman with clear skin

Maintaining a proper treatment routine tailored to your skin type can help keep blemishes at bay and prevent acne scars from forming. Whatever treatment option you choose, be patient with your skin.

With diligence and the right routine, you will see that natural, healthy glow you deserve!

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