Acne Scar Treatments

Acne scars are caused by the infection and inflammation associated with inflammatory acne. There are many treatments available that can help repair this damage.


Inflammatory acne (acne types: 3-4) can permanently damage the skin and underlying tissue, leaving behind acne scars. While the most important thing is to take immediate action to control your acne and prevent further damage, there is hope for people who have from acne scars.

The best choice of acne scar treatment depends on the type of scarring. Minor damage can be repaired with relatively mild topical treatments. Repairing moderate to severe acne scars may require surgical treatments. On this page you can find answers about how acne scars form, an overview of the many types of acne scars, and the types of treatments available for acne scars.

What Causes Acne Scars?

Inflammatory acne causes damage to the skin and the underlying tissue, which can ultimately result in acne scars. In the area within and around an inflammatory acne lesion (pimple, nodule or cyst), white blood cells release enzymes that damage the surrounding tissue. This process can cause permanent damage to the underlying collagen matrix that supports the skin. Large areas of damage may not be properly repaired and damaged tissue is instead replaced by fibrous scar tissue, leading to permanent acne scars. For a more detailed discussion about how acne scars form, continue reading here.

Types of Acne Scars

There are many types of acne scars. The development of acne scars depends on the severity, location and duration of an acne lesion, along with other factors, such as the genetics of the affected person. For a more detailed discussion about the many types of acne scars form, continue reading here.

Topical Acne Scar Treatments

Topical Pharmaceutical and Over The Counter (OTC) Treatments are excellent options for mild to moderate acne scars, and many types of abnormal pigmentation. Topical retinoids have been shown to stimulate cell turnover at the skin surface and the growth of new tissue and collagen in the dermis. Topical hydroquinone can inhibit the production of melanin, helping to gradually lighten dark spots. OTC and Spa-type exfoliating treatments can help relieve minor uneven and rough skin tone. Glycolic acid, azelaic acid, alpha hydroxy acid and others are available as part of OTC and prescription chemical peels. For more information about Topical Acne Scar Treatments, continue reading here.

Light and Laser Acne Scar Treatments

Light and Laser Treatments are excellent options for all types of acne scars, from mild to severe. Red light therapy can be helpful in accelerating healing and collagen production. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is very effective at improving the appearance of many types of abnormal pigmentation. Laser-based therapies are quickly becoming the dominant technology in cosmetic dermatology.

Laser systems can be used for both ablative (invasive) and non-ablative (non-invasive) skin resurfacing. Specialized laser treatments are available for the treatment of irregular pigmentation, erythema (permanent redness) and a wide range of scar types. Because the wavelength (color) and intensity of a laser determines the depth that it penetrates the skin and what kinds of molecules it excites, laser therapy is a highly flexible and functional tool.

In this section we overview many of the available laser technologies and their applications. For a more detailed discussion about the many light and laser-based treatments for acne scars, continue reading here.

Clinical/Surgical Scar Treatments

Clinical/Surgical Treatments are often the most effective approach for repairing the damage associated with moderate to severe acne scars. There are many different types of surgical approaches that are used in acne scar treatment.  To review the many surgical treatments for acne scars, continue reading here.

Surgical Acne Treatments


Surgical interventions are used for the treatment of both active acne and acne scars. Surgical techniques are specific to each application.

Surgical Treatments for Active Acne

Surgical treatments for Active Acne can range from simple comedome extractions to drainage and/or removal of infected cysts. Surgical treatments for active acne are are generally used as a complement to conventional acne treatments, such as antibiotic therapy. The benefits of surgical treatments for active acne are generally temporary. This section includes a range of medical procedures for active acne that are generally administered by a dermatologist.

Surgical Treatments for Acne Scars

Surgical Solutions for Acne Scars can be an effective way to repair moderate to severe acne scar damage. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are frequently used to treat moderate cases of acne scarring. Surgical approaches (subcision, punch excision, fillers, etc) are often the most effective treatments for severe acne scars. Aggressive chemical peels and full-face laser-resurfacing are invasive procedures that should be conducted in an appropriate medical/surgical setting. This section covers the spectrum of surgical procedures that are used to treat acne scars.

Light and Laser Acne Treatments

Light and Laser Treatments use high-intensity light sources to treat active acne and acne scars.


Light and Laser treatments are an increasingly popular way to treat acne symptoms. There are a wide range of these systems available. Most Light and Laser treatments for active acne symptoms are non-invasive and can be combined with Pharmaceutical, Naturopathic and OTC acne treatments to create comprehensive acne treatment regimens.

Light and Laser Treatments for acne can be divided into two major categories: Treatments for Active Acne and Treatments for Acne Scars. This page is devoted to Light and Laser treatments for active acne. The page for laser treatment of acne scars canbe found here.

Light and Laser Treatment for Active Acne

Several Light and Laser treatments have been shown to improve acne symptoms. However, the benefits of these treatments are often temporary. For many patients, treatments must be repeated on a regular basis to achieve the maximum benefit. These treatments also tend to be more expensive than many of the common Pharmaceutical treatments that are available. Nonetheless, Light and Laser treatments are excellent options for most people, especially when used in combination with other types of treatments. Below is our complete guide to the Light and Laser Treatments available for Active Acne.

Blue Light Phototherapy

Blue Light Phototherapy is a treatment for acne that uses high intensity blue light (~415 nm) to directly kill acne-causing Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that are growing in the skin. P. acnes bacteria produce a molecule called porphyrin that produces free radicals when exposed to high intensity blue light. Blue Light Phototherapy works by causing porphyrin to produce enough free radicals to damage and kill P. acnes bacteria.

Diode Lasers

Diode Lasers are becoming a popular laser treatment for inflammatory acne. Diode Lasers are used to selectively target and damage the sebaceous glands, reducing sebaceous hyperplasia, sebum secretion and acne symptoms. Diode Lasers are also commonly used in hair removal and scar treatment applications. The benefits of Diode Laser acne treatment are often longer-lasting than many other light and laser therapies.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy uses short bursts of high intensity light to treat a variety of skin conditions. IPL is most commonly used for photo-rejuvenation procedures and to treat mild skin discolorations caused by hyper-pigmentation. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy is also occasionally used to treat active acne symptoms and certain types of mild acne scars.

KTP Lasers

KTP Lasers are commonly used for minimally invasive ablation and coagulation treatments. KTP lasers have also been used to treat rosacea, spider veins, hyper-pigmented spots and acne, although it is an uncommon acne treatment. KTP Lasers are occassionaly used as the light source for Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) of active acne.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is the generic name for a class of treatments that use specialized medications called photosensitizers to increase the effectiveness of a light-based treatment. PDT is used treat certain types of skin problems, including acne and some forms of cancer. Numerous clinical research studies have reported that Photodynamic therapy (PDT) can decrease bacterial levels in the skin and help improve acne symptoms. PDT appears to be more effective for treating inflammatory acne lesions (Acne Types: 2-4) than non-inflammatory acne lesions (Acne Types: 1-2).

Ultraviolet Light (UV) and Tanning

Ultraviolet (UV) light is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths that are just shorter than visible light. UV light is most commonly found in sunlight and artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds and blacklights. Exposure to UV light causes significant changes in the affected skin tissue, and these changes can impact acne symptoms. Many people strongly believe that tanning improves their complexion.

Naturopathic and Lifestyle Acne Treatments

Nature is the fundamental source of all medicine.


Humans have been utilizing the medicinal properties of plants, animals, fungi and minerals since before the dawn of civilization. This section is devoted to covering Naturopathic, Homeopathic, Ayurvedic, Nutritional/Dietary and Lifestyle solutions that may be helpful for people wih acne. The goal of this Naturopathic Treatments section is to help you identify solutions that are likely to be effective for you, understand what they are and how they work.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

There are huge numbers of biologically active molecules that can be isolated from natural sources. When it comes to naturopathic medicine, the biggest challenge is to separate fact from fiction. While some naturopathic treatments are based on solid scientific reasoning and have a long history of successful medicinal use, others are fraudulent at best and dangerous at worst. The challenge is to identify the legitimate naturopathic therapies in a sea of snake oil.

A lot of people, particularly those in the medical profession, dismiss naturopathic solutions as ineffective quackery. On the other side of the fence, many practitioners and patients of naturopathic and homeopathic medicine are inherently suspicious of the medical establishment and commercial pharmaceuticals.

The reality is that naturopathic medicine, like most anything else, contains both truth and falsehoods. Indeed, truth can be found on both sides of the fence.

Essential Oils

Essential oils and other plant extracts can contain significant quantities of biologically active small molecules and enzymes. Often times these molecules are part of the plant’s own defense mechanism against viral, bacterial and fungal infection.

Numerous plant extracts have been shown to have potent anti-bacterial activity against the two types of bacteria most commonly implicated in acne outbreaks (P. acnes and S. aureus). Other extracts have been shown to contain retinoid family compounds that are similar, if not identical, to those contained in prescription medications, such as Tretinoin (Retin-A). Some plant compounds have effective anti-inflammatory agents that could potentially decrease the swelling and pain associated with acne.

Herbal Supplements

Herbal Supplements (aka Botanicals) often come in the form of capsules that contain dried and powdered pieces of specific plants. There are lots and lots (and lots) of herbal supplements on the market. A number of these have been marketed specifically for the treatment of acne.

While many herbal supplements provide legitimate support for certain medical conditions, they are usually not effective treatments for acne. This section covers the few herbal supplements that may actually be beneficial to acne sufferers, as well as many others that are commonly marketed as acne treatments but are most likely useless.

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional Supplements are a very common naturopathic remedy for all types of acne. It is well known that deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can cause or worsen numerous health problems, including skin diseases like acne. What is less well understood is whether supplementation with high levels of vitamins, minerals or other compounds can improve health or help resolve disease. In this section we analyze the potential benefits and risks of supplementation with vitamins, minerals, extracts and more.


Dietary choices – what you eat and do not eat – have a huge impact on your metabolism, immune system and overall health. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that diet also has a direct impact on acne symptoms.

Sugar, milk, chocolate and many other foods have been suggested to contribute to acne. Although some of these claims are probably not true, others are supported by compelling scientific evidence. This section covers common dietary regimens (eg. vegan, Atkins, Mediterranean, etc.) and specific dietary restrictions (dairy, chocolate, sugar, etc).

Lifestyle – Physical and Spiritual

Physical exercise is a critical component of overall health. Exercise boosts the immune system directly and indirectly by impacting hormones, body composition, metabolism and mental state. There are many ways to engage in physical activity.

Spiritual interventions (eg. Prayer, Meditation), Aromatherapy, Acupuncture are also approaches that some people take to help treat their acne symptoms. This section covers a range of physical and spiritual activities, from Yoga to weight-lifting, and explores how these activities might impact acne.

Topical Naturopathic Remedies

Topical Naturopathic Remedies extend beyond essential oils and plant extracts to include a wide variety of alternative treatments, many of which have a long and successful history in medicine. Sulfur, yogurt, silver, calamine, honey and many other substances are all commonly used to create topical acne treatments.

This section covers these topical naturopathic remedies (along with many more) and explores there history, science and effectiveness as acne treatments.

Pharmaceutical (Rx) Acne Treatments

Pharmaceutical (Rx) Acne Treatments are medications which are generally only available via a prescription from your doctor (in the United States, at least)


Pharmaceutical Treatments are an essential part of many effective acne treatment regimens. These medications can be particularly useful for patients with moderate to severe acne symptoms.

A wide variety of medications are routinely used to treat acne symptoms, but almost all of them are members of one of four major pharmaceutical types: Antibiotics, Retinoids, Keratolytics or Hormonal Treatments. Each class of medications is has a unique complement of advantages and disadvantages. These families are profiled below.


Antibiotics kill bacteria. The overgrowth of certain species of bacteria in the skin is often a major contributor to acne symptoms. Inhibiting bacterial growth with antibiotics can help improve acne symptoms for many people.

There are several types of antibiotics that are routinely used to treat acne. Antibiotic-based acne treatments may be administered topically or taken orally. This section contains information and reviews about all of the antibiotics that are regularly used as acne treatments.


Keratolytics help improve acne symptoms by preventing the formation of “clogged pores”. They work by helping to soften and remove the outermost layer of the skin. This helps open up plugged pores and follicles. Keratolytics, and other types of exfoliants, can also helpful for improving the appearance of mild acne scars and small areas of uneven skin.

Many keratolytics are available at low concentrations in Over The Counter products (eg. Benzoyl peroxide). Higher concentration keratolytic products  are often administered by a physician.

Keratolytics are primarily used for the treatment of mild acne vulgaris (Acne Types: 1-2). They are usually poorly ineffective treatments for moderate to severe acne symptoms (Acne Types: 3-4). This section contains information and reviews about all of the keratolytic medications that are regularly used as acne treatments.


Retinoids are medications that decrease the production of sebum (oil) in the skin. Retinoids can improve acne symptoms by decreasing the growth of bacteria in the skin and preventing formation of hyper-keratinized plugs (clogged pores). Retinoids also increase cellular turnover in the skin and are a common treatment for mild acne scars and fine lines.

Retinoids are available in both topical and oral formulations. Topical retinoids are applied directly to the skin and are a very common treatment for all types of acne, although they tend to be less effective against moderate to severe acne. Topical retinoids are often combined with a complementary medication, such as an antibiotic.

Oral retinoids (eg. Accutane) are ingested and affect the entire body. Oral retinoids can have significant side effects and are generally only used in the treatment of moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 3-4). For some people with moderate to severe acne, oral retinoids can be very effective. This section contains information and reviews about all of the retinoids that are regularly used as acne treatments.

Hormonal Treatments

Hormones can contribute to acne in many ways. Androgen hormones (eg. testosterone) can stimulate the growth of sebaceous glands and increase the production of sebum (oily skin). Overactive sebaceous glands and excessive sebum production can contribute to the growth of acne-causing bacteria, and can lead to hyper-keratinized follicles (clogged pores).

Treatments that suppress the activity of androgen hormones are helpful for many women who are struggling with acne (hormonal treatments are rarely used in men because of the side effects). Birth control regimens may improve or worsen acne symptoms.

Hormonal treatments can be used to treat all types of acne in women (Acne Types: 1-4). Hormonal birth control pills (“The Pill”) are the most common hormonal treatment in the world and these medications can have a significant impact on acne symptoms. Other types of hormonal treatments include androgen inhibitors and corticosteroids. This section contains information and reviews about all of the hormonal treatments that are regularly used as acne treatments.

Over The Counter (OTC) Acne Treatments

Over The Counter (OTC) acne treatments are products that do not require a doctor’s prescription to obtain (in the United States).


There are hundreds of OTC acne products available in stores, although most of these products use the same basic active ingredients. OTC treatments can be helpful for people with mild acne. However, they tend to be ineffective for people with moderate to severe acne. Individuals with significant acne symptoms should not rely solely on OTC treatments. Instead, they should work with their healthcare provider to implement an effective treatment plan.

Types of OTC Acne Treatments

Acne Washes

Medicated face and body washes are a popular type of OTC acne treatment. Acne cleansers can be helpful for drying out oily skin. However, cleansers are not usually effective treatments for inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 2-4). This is because inflammatory acne is not caused by dirt or bacteria on the surface of the skin that can be washed away. Despite the claims in many commercials and advertisements, these cleansers do not penetrate deeply into follicles and are therefore are not capable of treating the root causes of acne.

Most cleansers contain triclosan, an antibacterial compound, as their active ingredient. In general, washing your face with a gentle cleaner once or twice a day is a good idea. Washing more than this is generally not helpful and can often cause irritation and dry skin. Detailed discussion about the various face and body cleansers can be found here.

Acne Cleanser Pads

Cleanser Pads are nice because when you are done using them you can often see the “dirt” on the pad and it feels like you have done something concrete about your acne. Unfortunately, the “dirt” that you see on the pad is unlikely to be the source of your acne symptoms. While some people do find that cleanser pads help with their oily skin and mild acne symptoms, most people experience minimal overall improvement in the condition of their skin.

Like other topical OTC treatments, the active ingredients in cleanser pads are unlikely to penetrate deeply enough into the follicle to unclog blocked pores or suppress the growth of bacteria in the skin. Most cleanser pads contain a combination of alcohol and salicylic acid, which are both antibacterial and keratolytic. Overuse of these products can cause skin irritation.

Acne Gels and Creams

Acne Creams and Gels are very popular and there are a huge number of these products on the market. The active ingredient in most of these product is either contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Other products may contain active ingredients such as sulfur, tea tree oil or glycolic acid.

In general, pimple creams are somewhat effective for mild acne symptoms (Acne Types: 1-2). They are generally ineffective for the treatment of inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 3-4) because they do not penetrate deeply into the skin. Like other topical OTC acne treatments, overuse of these products can irritate the skin.

Pore Strips

Pore Strips are neat. They may not actually prevent or treat acne, but it is cool to pull off a pore strip and see all of the little towers of gunk that come out of the pores with it. Pore strips are most helpful for removing mild blackheads (open comedones, horny impactions). They are best suited for people with mild acne (Acne Types: 1-2).

There is little scientific research on whether pore strips improve acne symptoms. One study did compare the efficacy of Biore pore strips to standard dermatological extraction (manual extraction) of blackheads and found that the pore strips were nearly as effective and were less invasive.

It is important to keep in mind that pore strips only work well with pores that are clogged, but open (blackheads). Acne lesions with closed pores, (eg. whiteheads, pimples, nodules and cysts) are not easily accessible to the sticky material that coats the pore strip. Thus, pore strips are generally ineffective for people with moderate to severe acne symptoms (Acne Types: 3-4).


Most OTC exfoliants are combine a gentle cleanser with some sort of abrasive ingredient. Gentle exfoliation every once in a while can even skin tone and improve areas of rough skin. OTC exfoliants are generally NOT helpful for treating active acne symptoms.

It is important to be aware that many other topical acne treatments are keratolytic agents, which are essentially chemical exfoliants. Combining these treatments can cause significant skin irritation and dryness. For dry skin, a non-comedogenic moisturizer, such as Cetaphil, is often a more effective treatment than exfoliation.

Acne Facial Masks

Facial Masks are a mainstay of spa treatments. They can also be helpful as acne treatments. But it really depends what the mask is made of. High quality facial masks may help improve mild acne symptoms and improve skin tone and moisture.

Many of the inexpensive OTC facial masks that are sold in drugstores contain a liquid polymer that dries into a thin, clear sheet that you then pull off. There is no published research on the efficacy of this type of product (but in my own experience, they did absolutely nothing helpful).

More expensive facial mask products often contain various types of clay in conjunction with other potentially active ingredients such as essential oils or colloidal metals. While there is limited scientific research on this topic, many of these products are well reviewed, particularly for improving oily skin.

Active Ingredients in OTC products

Despite the diversity of OTC acne products, most of these products use the same core set of active ingredients. The active ingredients are primarily antibacterial or keratolytic agents that are designed to kill bacteria, exfoliate the surface of the skin and remove blackheads (open comedones). The most common active ingredients in OTC acne products are discussed below.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is widely used in OTC acne products, particularly face washes and cleanser pads. At the low concentrations found in OTC acne products, salicylic acid works as mild keratolytic and comedolytic agent.

The majority of the scientific research indicates that salicylic acid is moderately effective for the treatment of mild acne symptoms (Acne Types: 1-2). Salicylic Acid tends to have efficacy rates that are similar to Benzoyl Peroxide. However, because salicylic acid treatments do not penetrate deeply into the skin, they are poor options for people suffering from nodular and cystic acne (Acne Types 3-4).

Salicylic Acid weakens the bonds between the keratinized cells on the outer surface of the epidermis, causing them to shed more rapidly and encourages new cell growth. At higher concentrations, salicylic acid is toxic and is used in chemical peels and wart removal treatments.

Salicylic Acid is usually well tolerated, but some people are allergic to it. Salicylic acid is a molecular cousin of aspirin, and people who are sensitive to aspirin are more likely to be sensitive to salicylic acid. The primary side effects of salicylic acid treatments are dry skin, sensitivity and redness. Excessive use of salicylic acid treatments, or combinations with other topical acne treatments, can exacerbate these side effects.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is both a keratolytic agent and antibacterial agent.  Keratolytic agents cause the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) to shed. Antibacterial agents kill bacteria.

When benzoyl peroxide comes into contact with the skin it breaks down into benzoic acid and oxygen, which are toxic to many types of bacteria (including the acne-causing Propionibacterium acnes bacteria).  Benzoyl peroxide is a very common ingredient in face washes and pimple creams.

Extensive research has shown that benzoyl peroxide can be a beneficial treatment for many people suffering from non-inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 1-2). However, because of its limited penetration into the skin, benzoyl peroxide is largely ineffective in treating cystic and nodular forms of acne (Acne Types: 3-4).

Benzoyl peroxide is commonly combined with antibiotics, such as clindamycin and erythromycin, in prescription topical medications. Benzoyl peroxide can be combined with many other types of treatments in a comprehensive acne treatment regimen.

Most people tolerate benzoyl peroxide treatment well, with side effects most commonly associated with higher dosages and excessive use. Common side effects of benzoyl peroxide treatment include dry skin, flaking, redness and sensitivity. Benzoyl peroxide is also a potent bleaching agent, and contact with clothes or furniture can cause permanent bleach damage.


Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is found in many OTC acne treatment products, such as soaps and cleansers. Triclosan is toxic to many bacteria, including the acne-causing Propionibacterium acnes.

Clinical research and patient reports indicate that face washes with Triclosan are somewhat helpful for people with mild acne symptoms (Acne Types: 1-2). Like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, triclosan does not penetrate deeply into the skin and is a poor option for inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 3-4).

Use of triclosan containing washes is usually well tolerated by the user with minimal side effects.Excessive use of any face wash (with our without Triclosan) can cause dryness and skin irritation.

There are some concerns that triclosan can degrade into toxic substances such as chlorophenol, dioxin and formaldehyde. However, normal use of topical antibacterial products that contain Triclosan is unlikely to generate toxic concentrations of these molecules. There is currently no evidence that demonstrates a specific health risk from the exposure associated with normal use of Triclosan-containing products.


Astringents are used primarily to tighten the skin, diminish redness and relieve oily skin. Astringents are also one of the oldest acne treatments in existence, with their use going back hundreds (or even thousands) of years.

Astringents, particularly Witch Hazel, are generally well-reviewed by acne patients, particularly for mild acne symptoms (Acne Types: 1-2). Astringents tend to be most useful for cleansing the skin and for providing a fast-acting, short term improvement in redness and inflammation.

There are many different types of astringents including tannins, gallic acid, witch hazel and alum. The most common OTC astringent is Witch Hazel, which can be found at most stores and pharmacies. Interesting fact: Astringents, particularly tannins, are what gives unripe fruit and banana peels to create that puckering, sand-papery mouth feel.

Astringents work by denaturing and/or precipitating proteins. How this helps to improve acne symptoms is uncertain. However, there is very little scientific research on the efficacy of astringents as a treatment for acne.

Astringents are not expected to be effective acne treatments when used alone. Astringents are unlikely to have a significant effect on the fundamental causes of acne and are generally considered to be short-acting, symptomatic treatments. They can be used by patients with all types of acne (Acne Types: 1-4) and can be combined with many other types of acne treatment.

Augmentin (Amoxicillin + Clavulanic Acid)

Augmentin is a combination antibiotic that includes Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic in the Penicillin family. Clavulanic Acid prevents bacteria from inactivating Amoxicillin by blocking the activity of a bacterial enzyme called beta-lactamase.

Augmentin is not a common acne treatment, but there is some evidence to suggest that Augmentin can effective for individuals with acne. The acne-causing P. acnes bacterium tends to be very sensitive to Penicillin family antibiotics. Augmentin is expected to be at least as effective than Amoxicillin alone, but Augmentin tends to be substantially more expensive than basic Amoxicillin.

Individuals who are allergic to Amoxicillin, Ampicillin or Penicillin have an increased risk of side effects from Augmentin treatment.

Acne Treatments

What is the best acne treatment for you?

Choosing the best acne treatment(s) for each individual depends on many factors:

  • Type and severity of your acne
  • Age and gender
  • Genetics
  • Treatment history
  • Personal preferences

Whenever possible, you should work closely with your dermatologist or healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive acne treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Treatments for active acne and acne scars can be roughly divided into 6 different categories:

Over The Counter (OTC) Treatments

When people first develop acne symptoms, they often begin treatment with Over The Counter (OTC) acne products. These products are generally topical medications and they are widely available at grocery stores, department stores and pharmacies. Common OTC acne products include face washes, creams, masks, astringents and pore strips. Many of these products contain one of two active ingredients – Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid.

Pharmaceutical (Rx) Treatments

For many individuals with moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 2-4), Pharmaceutical Treatments are required to significantly improve their acne symptoms. Pharmaceutical treatments include oral and topical medications that are available primarily from a clinician or pharmacy. There are many different types of Pharmaceutical medications that are used in the treatment of acne, including Antibiotics, Retinoids and Hormonal Treatments.

Naturopathic and Lifestyle Treatments

Many modern medicines are derived from natural products that have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Many plant extracts and other natural products have properties that can be helpful for individuals with acne. Naturopathic, Homeopathic and Lifestyle acne treatments include include Essential Oils, Herbal Supplements, aromatherapies, special/restrictive diets, nutritional supplements, exercise and more.

Light & Laser Treatments

Light and Laser therapies are available for the treatment of both active acne and acne scars. Light-based treatments such as Blue Light Phototherapy can be valuable additions to a comprehensive acne treatment regimen. Laser-based treatments such as Fraxel are among the most effective treatments for established acne scars.

Surgical Treatments

Surgical Treatments are available for the treatment of active acne and acne scars. Many dermatologists routinely perform simple surgical procedures such as comedome (blackhead) extraction for their patients. Individuals with severe inflammatory acne may have nodules and cysts that may need to be surgically lanced and drained, in order to heal. Surgical Treatments are often the best option for patients with Moderate to severe acne scarring. There are many types of surgical Treatments for acne scars, including Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Needling, Subcision and more.

Acne Scar Treatments

Acne Scars can be difficult to repair, but fortunately there are many different kinds of Acne Scar Treatments available. The best treatment for an individual with Acne Scars depends on the type and severity of their scars. Treatments specifically for Acne Scars can be found in each of the categories listed above. This section contains a collection of treatments, selected from the above categories, that are specifically useful for treating acne scars.