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Acne Red Marks


Dear Doctor

Hi I have a ton on acne scars all over my face. The reason is from picking at it. I break out very little but the little bumps bother me so I pick at it.

I also get tiny cystic acne mostly on my cheek area. My skin is oily/combo. What should I do to fade them away or get rid of them? Please help! Thank you

Dear Patient

These red marks on your face are not acne scars in the strict definition of the term acne scars. I suggest the following treatment for your condition;

They are a type of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. This means that they develop after a process of inflammation in the skin which can be caused by acne and other skin condition.

However, this does not mean that you do not have true acne scars. But, since I cannot see them, I will concentrate on the treatment of acne red marks.

Treatment of Acne Red Marks

The treatment of acne red marks (postinflammatory hyperpigmentation) is as follows:

1.Treat the acne

Acne must be treated and well-controlled before you start treating the red marks because even if you get a few eruptions, they will undo the work you will have done of treating the acne red marks.

For the treatment of your acne, I suggest the following:

Use an over-the-counter acne treatment face wash in the morning

Use a face wash with acne treatment ingredients in the morning. For example, you can use Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid .


Apply an over-the-counter acne treatment moisturizer in the morning

After washing your face in the morning apply an oil-free moisturizer which contains ingredients like salicylic acid to your face. For example, you can use Clean and Clear Oil Free Moisturizer with 0.5% Salicylic Acid.


Use an over-the-counter acne treatment face wash in the evening

Use a face wash with acne treatment ingredients in the evening before you go to bed. For example, you can use include Clean and Clear Acne Cleanser  which contains 10% benzoyl peroxide.


Apply a retinoid at night

Get a prescription of a retinoid like tretinoin (Retin-A) or adapalene (Differin) from your nearest doctor so that you can apply it to your face at night after cleansing.

Retinoids increase the turnover of skin cells and unclog skin pores. They also reduce sebum (oil) production. Common side effects include irritation and stinging. They are not to be used during pregnancy since they increase the risk of birth defects. Note that they can cause a flare-up of the acne after using them for around 2-3 weeks once they unclog the pores and drain their contents.

Adopt an Acne-Free Lifestyle

Adopt an acne-free lifestyle by doing the following:

*Stop picking your face.

*Joining a smoking cessation program if you smoke cigarettes

*Cleaning your mobile phone with antiseptic wipes regularly

*Eating low glycemic index foods like whole grain bread, spinach, and tomatoes. To learn more read How to Treat Acne at Home.

how to treat acne at home


2. Treat the Acne Red Marks

The treatment of acne red marks hould begin once all the acne lesions heal.

You can treat them at home by using (alpha hydroxy acids) peels like 30% glycolic acid. These are usually applied at home for around 8 months before the full benefits are seen.

You can also use BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) peels like salicylic acid since they are especially good for acne-prone skin. You can begin with a 10% salicylic acid concentration.

Before using these chemical peels at home, it is always best to first have your skin evaluated by a preofessional.


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Categorised as: Acne | Ask a Dermatologist Online | Skin Diseases

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