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Do Acne Scars Go Away?

October 29, 2020

do acne scars go away

Isn’t it frustrating to keep trying treatments for your acne scars to go away but none of them seems to work?Acne in itself is quite emotionally draining! But the prominent acne scars they left behind is causing you more stress? The good news is, these scars can be treated. It is important to know your skin before you begin any treatments.

What Is Acne Scarring?

Acne scars can appear due to the damage caused by acne.  Acne tends to leave behind texture changes, dark marks, and redness. Depending on the type of scar, it may remain there for several months, or even years. 

Acne scars are created when skin tissue is damaged. Doing things like picking at and popping pimples can definitely damage your skin and cause scarring. But even if you're really careful with your skin, scars can still develop.

“Not every acne breakout will lead to an acne scar. It takes deeply penetrated acne to damage the surrounding skin tissue. As the acne clears, the body tries to repair this damage by producing extra collagen.” – Dr. Kathleen Garvey 

Acne scars that cause a dip in the skin are technically permanent textural changes that occur on the skin after having acne. Some may notice a dark mark leftover on skin after acne. The dark spots leftover are considered hyperpigmentation and can improve over time on their own but it may take longer for some people.

First, I will have to say that the typical topical skincare products will likely not improve deep acne scars such as boxcar, rolling, or ice pick scars.  The good news is that even the more permanent acne scarring doesn't  have to stay permanent! Textured acne scars have plenty of treatments that can make acne scars go away. 

How Long Does It Take For Acne Scars To Go Away?

The answer to this question depends on the type of acne scar you have. Some or most acne scars don’t go away that quickly, unfortunately.

Overall, yes acne scars will go away but some types of scars require treatment. Dark spots or hyperpigmentation can fade on its own after several months, but you may want to treat them to speed the process.  Depressed acne scars may remain permanent without treatment, but with treatment you can expect acne scars to improve within 3-6 months of consistent treatment. 

Because each individual's skin type reacts differently to acne scarring and healing, it is challenging to pinpoint an exact time frame. Multiple treatments may be required for the individual to feel satisfied with the results.

Types Of Acne Scars

Dealing with acne is only half the battle, unfortunately the more severe the acne, the more likely it can leave acne scars.  These acne scars can cause a pitted texture to the skin that could leave a constant reminder of the acne they've had to deal with.

Unfortunately, true acne scars may never be restored 100% to how your skin was before, although their appearance can improve by a large amount over time. The common types of acne scars are:

  • Rolling scars
  • Icepick scars
  • Boxcar scars
  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Hyperpigmentation

1. Rolling Scars

Rolling acne scars appear as depressions on the skin and the edges of the scar are rounded and smooth.  Imagine if you pressed your finger on a piece of dough, and it left a soft rounded indent.  A number of methods can be used to treat rolling scars including subcision,fractional laser resurfacing, microneedling,  radiofrequency and dermal fillers. 

2. Ice Pick Scars

-Ice pick scars are deep and narrow scars that extend into the lower layer of the skin. Due to the depth of ice pick scars, procedures such as fractional treatments are not as effective as TCA CROSS (TriChloroaceticAcidChemicalReconstructionOfSkinScars). The foundation of ice pick scar treatment is either to raise the depth of scarring or to surgically remove the scar itself.

These scars are narrower than boxcar and rolling scars. However, they are deeper and may be more noticable. Home remedies aren't likely to benefit these type of scars.

3. Boxcar Scars

These types of scars are wider than icepick scars and they look like a small crater with sharp cookie cutter edges. Boxcar scars are not as deep as ice pick scars. 

Box car scars are depressed scars that are shallow to medium in depth. Due to the relatively shallow depth, this type of scarring responds well to many treatments like microneedling,  full resurfacing,fractional lasers, dermal fillers and radiofrequency treatments.

4. Hypertrophic scars

Hypertrophic scars are the types of acne scars that appear raised above the skin and often the result of excess tissue in the area where the skin was damaged from acne. Some hypertrophic scars can also be keloid scars.  Hypertrophic scars can be treated with laser therapy, surgery, or silicone sheets. 

5. Hyperpigmentation

 Hyperpigmentation acne occurs when a dark spot appears in place of a pimple that has disappeared.Dark spots can remain after an acne spot resolves, which is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are flat spots, not acne scars, that will resolve with time and sun protection.

Out of the above acne scar types, hyperpigmentation is the one easiest to reduce and resolves on its own, while the other scar types can be more permanent without treatment.

Are Acne Scars Permanent?

Acne scars are permanent textural changes and indentations that occur on the skin as a result of severe acne when no treatment is involved. 

19 People are often confused between acne scars and hyperpigmentation marks. Brown or red spots or patches left behind by acne on a person’s face are marks that can fade away with time. Pitted acne scars may slightly fade over time while it is fresh in the healing process, but the skin will naturally decide the healing is good enough and stop that process so if there is a texture change left behind, it tends to stay permanent.


Before treating any acne scars, it’s important to determine the type of acne scars you have. Not all acne scars have the same treatment.Various methods may help improve your complexion to help your acne scars fade away. You may need to do a combination of these, or do just one.

Top ways 10 to get rid of acne scars include:

  • Microneedling
  • Vitamin C Serums
  • Retinoids
  • Niacinamide
  • Glycolic Acid or AHA's
  • Chemical Peels
  • Vitamin E
  • Rosehip Oil
  • Laser Therapies
  • TCA peels

What is the best cream for acne scars?

The best cream for treating acne scars would be the Banish Vitamin C Creme. This product is natural and a plant-based hydrating cream concentrated with 20% Vitamin C to help reverse dark spots and skin damage, and increase collagen in skin.

Mild vs Severe Scarring

Acne can be mild, moderate, or severe. In severe cases, there may be several inflamed acne lesions at a time.  The acne consists of pus filled nodules or large red bumps. Mild acne causes less irritated whiteheads or blackheads with or without a few red bumps or pustules.

Severe scarring may need more longer term treatment, and possibly a combination of treatments before the acne scars can fade. 

Difference Between Acne Marks and Dark Marks

People with a darker complexion are more likely to get PIH (marks that appear brown). People with a lighter complexion usually develop post-inflammatory erythema (purple/red marks).  Both of these acne marks can fade away with enough time.  

Acne scars are deep indentations. They are usually caused by severe acne or damaged skin from picking at acne. Although they may slightly fade over time, acne scars are usually permanent without treatment.

Home Remedies For Acne Scars

1. Salicylic Acid – Salicylic acid is a popular ingredient in most anti-acne skincare products. It helps to reduce swelling and redness, clears dirt from your pores and reduces dark spots.

2.  Glycolic Acid-Glycolic acid is an AHA which stands for alpha hydroxy acid.  This AHA is one of the most effective AHA and the most popular ingredient for getting rid of acne scars. Glycolic Acid can also reduce hyperpigmentation, acne and discoloration.

3. Lactic Acid– Lactic acid is a type or acid found in the form of various creams and lotions available at your nearest drugstore.Lactic Acid improves texture of the skin and reduces the look of dark spots.

4. Sunscreen- Sunscreen plays an important role in skin health maintenance. Regardless of what time of the year it is, a good sunscreen is a must. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from being damaged by the  sun’s harmful UV rays and reduces the appearance of acne scars.

 5. Shea Butter-  Shea butter is full of vitamins and essential fatty acids, making it ideal for UV protection and collagen production.

6. Turmeric PowderDue to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties,turmeric helps in preventing breakouts and also heal existing acne. In addition to being a great natural exfoliant, turmeric is high in antioxidants, which can help slow down your skin’s natural aging processes. This is good for dark spots.

How do you prevent acne scars after picking?

The best way to prevent acne scars is not to pick at them which I know is difficult to do.  It's also important to try to find the underlying cause of acne, since more severe acne can increase the chances of acne scars to develop. 1 Remind yourself thatpopping pimples can extend the healing time and ups the chance of it leaving a permanent scar. Allow the blemish to heal on its own and avoid picking at the scab if there is one.

If you've already picked at a blemish, use the methods metioned in this article to start treating the acne scar so it can go away faster and not remain as permanent.


It takes a lot of patience and consistency to see positive results, no matter what products or options you choose in treating acne. Don’t be afraid to try different options if the first options didn't work for you. Keep the healing going with some emotional and mental health check ins as well.  Acne does not only leave us with deep physical scarring but emotional scarring too.

Having apparent acne scars can make a huge impact on our confidence, but know that you can still be confident even with acne scars.



 "A-Z Of Skin: Acne Scars/Acne Scarring” from The Australian College of Dermatologists; https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/atoz/acne-scars-acne-scarring-

"Acne Scars" from American Society for Dermatologic Surgery; https://www.asds.net/skin-experts/skin-conditions/acne-scars

 "Acne Scars: Who Gets And Causes" from American Academy of Dermatology Association; https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/scars/causes


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