How to Get Rid of Dark Acne Spots

by Hallie Engel ; Updated September 28, 2017

Almost everyone experiences acne breakouts at some point, and often dark scars appear as your skin recovers. Known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, these marks range from pink to purple or even black, depending on your skin tone, and are caused by melanin produced by healing skin. These scars can take a long time to fade, but some products and treatments can speed up the process. Improving serious scars may not be possible or may require a doctor’s help.

Sun Protection

When you’re trying to lessen dark acne scars, avoid the sun. Regular UV exposure makes marks darker, so cover body scars with clothing or wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face. Use a high SPF moisturizer even on overcast days, and reapply it every few hours, especially if you’re outdoors for extended periods.

Scar-Fading Substances

Ingredients found in over-the-counter products can fade dark acne scars. Kojic acid, which comes from mushrooms, and bearberry extract, also known as arbutin, both diminish scars, according to WebMD. Vitamin C also fades scars and is an active ingredient in many serums, spot treatments and moisturizers. Avoid products containing hydroquinone, which lightens skin, because it may cause irritation.

Washing Up

Though it might be tempting to scrub your acne scars away, pampering your skin with a gentle face wash is a wiser plan of action. Using a cleanser that contains abrasive exfoliants, such as crushed walnut shells, can cause microscopic damage. Your skin responds to the scrubbing by producing more melanin, the substance that causes dark marks. For washing your face, use a mild, non-irritating product instead.

Consult a Professional

For stubborn acne scars that won’t go away, visit a dermatologist. Using a fraxel laser, a doctor can remove the uppermost layer of the epidermis, eliminating the scar and revealing the healthy, normal-colored skin beneath. Typically, dark scars are removed in one or two visits, according to "Men’s Fitness" magazine, although additional sessions may be necessary, depending on the severity. A doctor may also prescribe medication to prevent further breakouts -- and additional scars.

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About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.