How To Fade Acne Scars


Acne sufferers face more than one concern which of course includes the nuisance of acne itself, however most sufferers are usually anxious about acne scars since unlike acne, which may be temporary, acne scars are perceived to be for life.

There are numerous topical products aimed at treating scar tissue but before we investigate the types of acne scars, it is important that one should try and prevent acne in the first place.

Preventing acne

With acne affecting some 85% of the population at some time in their lives, it is important to try and prevent and treat acne effectively. Normally, antibiotics are prescribed such as tetracycline to eradicate the specific type of bacteria living on the surface of the skin. These bacteria block the pores leading to inflammation, which in turn causes excess sebum production and then leads to acne.

Whilst many experts point out that diet has nothing to do with acne, in my opinion, there is nothing could be further from the truth. A diet containing refined carbohydrates and sugar causes the release of excess insulin. Insulin has numerous effects on the body however it does cause the production of excess male hormone, testosterone, which causes the production of excess sebum production which the acne-causing bacteria thrive on. This is just the basic reason but there are also other processes involved which lead to the different types of acne.

From a dietary point of view, all grains are carbohydrates which are converted into sugar leading to acne so it is important to reduce the consumption of these. Reducing the consumption of bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn will all help to prevent acne outbreaks to a degree.

A supplement that I know helps many teenagers and adults to keep acne at bay is Clear Skin Complex by Viridian Nutrition. This supplement contains probiotics which we now understand to have an influence on many concerns including skin. In the most simplistic way, probiotics help to rid the gut of toxins which may seep into the bloodstream. Clear Skin Complex also contains zinc which helps reduce inflammation so skin can heal quickly and Burdock root which displays antimicrobial properties helping to reduce the numbers of bacteria living on skin’s surface.

Types of acne scars

Acne scars develop as a result of the loss of skin tissue or an increase in skin tissue formation. Studies indicate that the severe forms of acne, those that develop in the deeper layers of the dermis, are mostly responsible for causing acne scars. No matter what type of acne, some people are simply prone to scar formation. Sometimes skin simply does not heal itself correctly resulting in acne scars. Squeezing or popping acne can also result in scars.

Types of acne scars include:

  • Acne spots – discolouration of the skin, they are usually brown or red. These fade in time or quicker with the help of topical treatments. Also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, PIH, because inflammation causes excess melanin build-up in the area.
  • Ice Pick scars – usually appearing on the cheeks, these arise from sebum and bacteria being buried in pores. Skin becomes inflamed because of the pus and bacteria which puts pressure on the tissues damaging them and leaving skin with a deep and narrow indentation which resemble ice which has been cut repeatedly with an ice-pick.
  • Boxcar scars – usually on cheeks and temples, boxcar scars are a U-shaped scar with defined edges and generally wider than Ice Pick scars.
  • Rolling scars – rounded in appearance, rolling scars are caused by the development of bands of tissue under the skin with a rippling effect.

Whatever the type of scar, it is important to tackle this as early as possible to avert the possibility of permanent scarring.

Topical acne scar treatment

Getting rid of acne scars is not easy and requires patience. Whilst there are many topical products on the market against preventing acne, there are a few which are of benefit in minimising the appearance of acne scars. A chemical called azelaic acid shows great promise in addressing all types of mild acne scars.

Azelaic acid is a mild acid that can be found in grains such as barley, wheat and rye. It is a keratolytic agent, which means that it softens keratin and prevents the build-up of keratinocytes, which are skin cells, so that they do not build up and block pores. Azelaic acid also has antibacterial properties which prevents the bacteria living on skin’s surface from thriving and in this way helps many people in preventing acne breakouts. Azelaic acid also helps skin renewal and in doing do helps to fade dark spots, minimise the appearance of acne scars and eradicate blemishes often associated with acne.

Azelaic acid also helps to minimise the appearance of red acne marks and also has brightening properties which helps to tackle uneven skin tone. In addition to these properties, Azelaic acid is also a powerful anti-inflammatory which calms skin down which also explains its frequent use in controlling rosacea. This multi-tasker works on so many levels to improve the appearance of acne-prone skin as well as improving the appearance of all types of acne scars.

How to use Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid comes in serum, gel and cream forms. I recommend the use of Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% by The Ordinary and to apply five to six drops at night on the whole face or you can simply use it to target the specific areas. Regular use of azelaic acid suspension will help prevent moderate acne from becoming worse before it spreads further and creates scars. Just like retinoids, azelaic acid helps to enhance skin cell turnover rates so that new skin is growing faster as dead skin cells are exfoliated away. This is why azelaic acid helps to counter post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, PIH, and improve the appearance of acne marks and scars.

After the application of azelaic acid, use 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil. Rosehip seed oil underwent clinical trials in South America in the early 1980’s. The trials studied people with extensive scarring, acne scarring, deep wrinkles, surgical scars and UV damaged skin. The results showed a marked improvement in the appearance of scars especially after four months use, although improvements were noted at monthly intervals. Rosehip seed oil was found to regenerate skin, improve the appearance of all types of scars and prevent the advancement of wrinkles.  It may also be prudent to use Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, a beta hydroxyl acid, to deep clean pores of excess sebum.

A word of caution; azelaic acid may cause slight dryness, redness and itching. Should this occur, use once or twice a week increasing gradually to daily night time usage.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Shabir Daya | , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Victoria Health

    Hi Vaish, alternate with the Vitamin C Suspension. Best wishes Shabir

  • Yaya

    Hi Shabir,

    I’m so glad I found your article. I have combination skin, dry and oily, acne prone skin but thankfully not really bad, I get an acne only if eat oily food or chocolate or forget to wash my face before sleep, I used to breakout a lot 2-3 years ago, and the scar can be seen on both of my cheeks. Can you recommend me what The Ordinary product I can use? Or maybe can I just use the same one with you’ve already mentioned.. I read some articles but the only product I’m sure of is only the Lactic Acid, could you give me some advice for my acne problem? Especially on the scar..

    Thank you:)

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Yaya, I believe that the use of Azelaic acid and Rosehip seed oil should be sufficient in tackling acne scars of any type and would recommend using these every evening. Azelaic acid also helps unclog pores and hence you might not need the use of lactic acid. Azelaic acid also helps gently resurface skin and enhances cell turnover to reveal softer, smoother skin with regular use. Best wishes Shabir


    Wondering what product would be best to use for scarring, bearing in mind I’m using Adapalene (Differin) cream for acne. I went from super oily to normal/dry, and still get bouts of cystic acne (PCOS sufferer). I’ve looked at the Rosehip Oil and Moroccan Oil so far but can’t decide which would be best.
    No allergies, not particularly sensitive. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Louise, rosehip oil is known for helping to improve all types of scar tissue whereas Marula Oil has a different composition of fatty acids and is thought to reduce acne breakouts by influencing sebum quality. It might be prudent to alternate these. Best wishes Shabir

  • Victoria Health

    Hi Cathy, you may wish to consider the use of Niacinamide + Zinc to control sebum production; Salicylic acid to deep clean pores and Azelaic acid for its mild cell turnover properties as well as for its gentle resurfacing properties. You may wish to read Arly’s regimen guide in the link below.