Ask A Dermatologist: Acne Scar Treatment

Cheek Acne Scarring

Dear Doctor

It looks pretty much the same on the other side is acne scarring. What do you recommend I do to take care of it?

Acne Scar Treatment

Dear Patient

Acne Scar Treatment

The treatment of acne scars includes the following:

Mild Chemical Peels

Mild chemical peels can be used to treat superficial acne scars at home.

These mild chemical peels contain AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic acid and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) like salicylic acid.

These natural acids loosen the glue that holds the dead cells on the surface of the skin together.

30% Glycolic acid peels can be bought over the counter without a prescription. They have to be used monthly for 8 to 10 months for their effects to be fully appreciated.

Exfoliating moisturizer

These contain the AHAs and BHAs at lower concentrations than the chemicals and so they can be used on a daily basis. You can use Clean and clear oil free moisturizer or any other moisturizer with salicylic acid.

Daily sunscreen

Apply a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 to prevent the scars and other acne marks from darkening. Ensure that the sunscreen is non-comedogenic (will not clog your pores) like EltaMD SPF 46 Sunscreen.

Adopt an Acne-Free Lifestyle

Adopt an acne-free lifestyle by doing the following:

*Creating an acne skin care regimen of cleansing and moisturizing to prevent recurrences

*Joining a smoking cessation program if you smoke cigarettes

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


Dermatologist Procedures

In many situations, at home acne scar treatment may not be enough and it often involves the intervention of a dermatologist. Acne scar treatment by a dermatologist can involve the following procedures:

Acne scar treatment by a dermatologist can involve the following procedures:

Punch Excision

Punch excision is a procedure which involves removing the scar and stitching the wound to leave a smoother area.

Laser Therapy

Ablative laser treatment involves the removal of a thin layer of skin on and around the scar to produce new, smooth looking skin.

PRP Treatment

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment, which is also known as the vampire facial, involves injecting the patient’s own concentrated platelets into the dermis to promote the growth of healthy skin and new collagen in and around the acne scars.


Microdermabrasion is a relatively painless procedure in which the top layer of the skin is removed. As the skin heals the scars become less noticeable.

How to treat acne scars with over the counter products


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