How To Fade Acne Scars

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ 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:)

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ 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

  • louise.d.booth@hotmail.co.uk

    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!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ 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

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ 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.
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/editorial/the-ordinary-a-regimen-for-every-skin-type-1

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Cansu, I think it is a case of using Azelaic acid for its cell turnover and for its resurfacing properties alongside rosehip seed oil for tackling scars. You might also wish to use Alpha arbutin which you can use of the darker areas to fade these gently. For the arms, consider the use of Sheald Recovery Balm by iS Clinical which works very well for many face and body scars – see link below.
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/product/Sheald-Recovery-Balm/10896

  • Sarah Anisa

    hi Shabir, thank you for the post (:

    so I have a combination yet sensitive skin, i have so many acne scars all over my cheeks and forehead, large pores, also some random brown spots on my nose and cheek area. I also have an uneven skintone on my forehead along with small acnes, can you please recommend the right skincare for me? i’m really anxious with my skin cuz i think i’m still to young to have this many scars on my face:( thankyou.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Sarah, I have set out a simple regimen to counter the scars and the pigmentation resulting from the inflammation.
    AM: Niacinamide + Zinc; Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate; Natural Moisturizing Factors
    PM: Salicylic acid; Azelaic acid; Rosehip seed oil
    Niacinamide helps normalise oil production, improves pore appearance and helps skin heal quicker than otherwise.
    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a vitamin C derivative, works to hydrate skin, brightens skin and tackles acne damage. Dehydration is one of the causes of inflammation leading to more oil production.
    Natural Moisturizing factors helps provide surface hydration without clogging pores.
    Salicylic acid helps exfoliate and deep cleans pores to prevent further breakouts.
    Azelaic acid helps enhance cell turnover gently, brightens skin and resurfaces skin to reveal softer skin.
    Rosehip seed oil is known to improve scar appearance.

    Best wishes
    Shabir

  • Sarah Anisa

    thank you so much (: i’ll try that out!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You are welcome Sarah. Do keep us informed if you can.

  • Cansu Rehber

    Thank you I was just wondering how should I be using these products? Like how often? Also can I dermaroll while I’m using these products and what kind of masks can I use?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Cansu, it is a case of using water based serums first followed by suspensions and emulsions. Azelaic acid is best used in the PM regimen wheareas Alpha arbutin and Niacinamide + Zinc can be used AM and PM. For a more detailed review, please check the link below.
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/editorial/the-ordinary-a-regimen-for-every-skin-type-1

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Dear Phoebe, Glycolic acid is certainly more irritating than lactic acid which is gentle, soothing and hydrating. Here is a suggested regimen.
    AM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Niacinamide + Zinc; Natural Moisturising Factors+
    PM: Hyaluronic acid; Lactic acid; Advanced Retinoid and Natural Moisturising Factors+

    Hyaluronic acid helps hydrate dermal layer since dehydration may lead to excessive inflammation which may cause a combination of dry and oily patches.
    Niacinamide + Zinc helps regulate oil production; improves pore appearance. Zinc heals inflamed skin and reduces redness.
    Natural Moisturising Factors+ helps provide surface hydration without clogging pores.
    Lactic acid – as above – exfoliate to prevent dead skin cells clogging the pores
    Advanced Retinoid helps cell turnover to reveal softer smoother skin. Helps prevent acne flare ups. Use once or twice a week since overuse can cause inflammation.

    Best wishes,

    Shabir

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Idoia, I understand this because of the differences in opinion since there are multiple products to treat one concern. I have outlined a simple and effective regimen from the feedback received.
    AM: Hyaluronic acid; Niacinamide + Zinc; Natural Moisturising Factors+
    PM: Salicylic acid; Hyaluronic acid; Advanced Retinoid; Rosehip seed oil.

    Hyaluronic acid will help hydrate dermal layer – this prevents inflammation which could lead to excess oil production.
    Niacinamide + Zinc helps control sebum production; targets blemishes, improves pore appearance and helps tackle any pigment problems.
    Natural Moisturising Factors+ provides surface hydration without clogging pores
    Salicylic acid helps surface exfoliation and deep cleans pores to remove dirt and grime
    Advanced Retinoid helps cell turnover to reveal softer, smoother skin; also helps prevent acne breakouts and may improve scar appearance with time.
    Rosehip seed oil helps to replenish lipids in skin – also known to tackle many types of acne scars.

    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You may use an alpha and a beta hydroxyl acid at the same time and The Ordinary have a combined version.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Ella, thank you for the information and here is a suggested regimen for you to consider.

    AM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Niacinamide + Zinc; Natural Moisturizing Factors
    PM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Azelaic acid; Rosehip seed oil
    Hyaluronic acid helps hydrate the dermal layer since dehydration leads to inflammation causing excess sebum production.
    Niacinamide + Zinc helps normalise sebum production, improves pore appearance and calms and heals inflamed skin.
    Natural Moisturizing Factors, an ultralight topical helps provide surface hydration without clogging pores.
    Azelaic acid calms inflamed skin, gently resurfaces skin and is ideal to rosacea prone skin as well as brightening blemishes. Also unclogs pores.

    Best wishes Shabir

  • celeste1234

    Hi, I’m 42, and have old acne scaring. Most of it is just redness, but I do have a few of the deeper types of scaring. I don’t have any signs of ageing, yet, but I will of course like to keep any ageing at bay for as long as possible. My skin is neither dry nor oily, though it does lean a bit more towards dry if I’m not careful. I’m currently using a derma roller once a month, which I’ve only just started using for the last 3 months.
    Recently, I went through some cystic acne flareups, due to hormonal changes after having a baby, but that seems to have calmed down. I do often get little white heads pimples, and sometimes black heads. I just bought Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil, and Salicylic Acid 2% Solution. Haven’t received these yet. Will these be OK for me? Should i add anything else, or buy something different next time? Thank you. :)

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi, I would be inclined to also use Buffet to prevent the signs of ageing and Natural Moisturizing Factors to hydrate skin without clogging pores. Perhaps this is the regimen that you may wish to consider.
    AM: Salicylic acid; Buffet; Natural Moisturizing factors
    PM: Buffet; Azelaic acid; Rosehip seed oil.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • mary

    Hello, I’m 19 and getting a lot of scars. I have some big scars along the side of my nose and above the lips as well as below them. It is super hard to deal with and at this point my skin is becoming so fragile and weak that if a part of my face is itchy, I will itch it, maybe get a zit then pop it and get a scar eventually; or the skin literally tears off and I am tempted to keep picking it because it looks bad. So then I get my scars. They’re really big and I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to stop touching it but I don’t know where else to start in order to fade the scars. I am scared they won’t fade. One has been there for more than a month and has just started fading out. Please please help thanks!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Dear Mary, it is important for you to consider the use of an appropriate regimen of products from The Ordinary for your skin type because clearly you need to prevent spot formation in order to minimise scar formation. Please see link below to Arly’s editorial piece on regimens. Shabir
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/editorial/the-ordinary-a-regimen-for-every-skin-type-1

  • Ship123

    Hello,
    I have asian skin (medium brown – Indian skin) and as a result of teenage acne, I am left with dark brown acne scarring. Is this something that will help asian skin tones?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi, the regimen I have set out is suitable for all skin types.

  • celeste1234

    Thank you! I just received my order I mentioned above, and i will be putting in an order for the moisturiser and Buffet at the start of the month.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Please keep us posted. Best wishes Shabir

  • celeste1234

    Also, do you have any moisturizers with sunscreen? Just concerned even more about protecting my skin since some of these products say that they make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Thanks again.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You may wish to consider NIOD’s Survival range of sunscreens or alternatively Green People’s Scent Free lotion.

  • celeste1234

    Thank you so much again. I’m very excited about your company and products, as well as your service on this site. I have a feeling I’m going to be telling everyone I know about The Ordinary, and Victoria Health.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You are welcome and thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Sanem, I would recommend using all three products in an evening regimen. The order of usage would be Lactic acid; Azelaic acid followed by Advanced Retinoid 2%. Best wishes Shabir

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Annie, niacinamide + zinc tends to normalise oil production rather than dry skin out however you are right in that vitamin C serums generally tend to reduce the inflammation of acne. I would be more inclined to use Vitamin C 30% in Silicone or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate both of which tend to be less likely to irritate skin.

  • annie

    Thanks, the acne-related inflammation is not a concern moreso the red scars left over from old breakouts so will vitamin c also help fade the red marks on my cheeks or will Rosehip oil be more effective?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Annie, vitamin C helps curb the inflammation of soft tissues so should be effective. You could try using the vitamin C followed by rosehip oil since this has been shown to help tackle most types of scar tissue.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Sana, I would recommend the following regimen to start with; all products are suitable for sensitive skin.
    AM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Niacinamide + Zinc; Natural Moisturizing Factors
    PM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Rosehip seed oil.

    Hyaluronic acid will help to hydrate the dermal layer since dehydration can lead to excess oil production.
    Niacinamide + Zinc helps normalise oil production, improve skin barrier function to prevent dehydration, tackles blemishes and calms inflamed skin.
    Natural Moisturizing Factors helps to provide surface hydration without clogging pores.
    Rosehip seed oil is known to help improve the appearance of numerous types of scar tissue.

    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Lissya Lettisya Santoso

    Hello ! Is it true that we need to take pH into consideration when layering skincare product? If it’s so, how can i layer the azelaic acid suspension 10% which has ph of 4-5 and the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate 10 % (ph 6.5-7.5)?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Lettisya, the general rule is lower pH first. The other general guidelines are water serums first followed by heavier suspensions, oils and creams. Both of these rules fir in neatly because you can use Azelaic acid which has a lower pH and is a suspension and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate which has a higher pH and is an emulsion so it is heavier.

  • Lissya Lettisya Santoso

    Thank you for the fast reply ! Is azelaic acid considered as strong acid ? Can i add lactic acid 5% + HA as an exfoliant step, then buffet as a serum, Followed by azelaic acid and MAP ? Or should i separate the two acids for different days?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Lettisya, azelaic acid belongs to a group called carboxylic acids which include AHA’s and PHA’s. All of these display similarities and show differences in their topical action. Azelaic acid displays antibacterial properties and normalises keratinazation which is why it is used both for acne and for rosacea. I would recommend using them lactic acid and azelaic acid on different days. Lactic acid certainly is a gentle exfoliant and can be followed by Buffet and MAP.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Donna, I have set out a simple regimen for your consideration below.
    AM: Buffet; Niacinamide + Zinc; Natural Moisturising Factors
    PM: Hyaluronic acid + B5; Azelaic acid; Granactive Retinoid 2%.
    Buffet aside from being hydrative also contains peptides known to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
    Niacinamide + Zinc helps to normalise oil production, improves pore appearance, tackles blemishes and also hyper pigmentation.
    Natural Moisturising Factors helps provide surface hydration without clogging pores.
    Hyaluronic acid helps hydrate dermal layer since dehydration causes inflammation leading to excess oil production.
    Azelaic acid helps gently resurface skin and unclogs pores.
    Granactive Retinoid works to enhance cell turnover, improves pore size with regular use and is ideal for both ageing and acne-prone skin.

    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Kirsty Macfarlane

    Hi folks I suffer from redness, especially on my cheeks and have since I was young. Any suggestions on what would help would be really appreciated. I’m 43 and have normal/combo/slightly sensitive skin. Thanks in advance!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Kirsty, you might consider incorporating azelaic acid into your PM regimen since this topical is known to calm inflamed skin. Best wishes Shabir