Acne Scars: 5 Effective Home Remedies & Medical Treatments

Acne can be painful and unsightly, but the effects don’t always fade as the breakouts clear. Also, some people are more susceptible to acne scarring. Here’s what you need to know about acne scarring and how to treat it.

What Causes Acne Scars?

Acne is an unpleasant skin condition that affects numerous people, sometimes into adulthood. This article will examine the causes behind its development, some useful home remedies for improving the skin, and methods on how to get rid of oily skin.


Acne is a common skincare problem, with 40 to 50 million people suffering from regular acne in just the United States alone. Acne can be painful and make you feel self-conscious when you have a breakout, but the scarring that remains can be even worse.

Acne is a wound on your face. There are inflammation and damage to skin tissue involved. If the acne gets infected, the problem only compounds. Your body’s first line of defense is to try to repair the damage, so it sends in extra collagen to the rescue to support and heal the skin.

The amount of collagen involved is really what determines the severity of acne scarring. Both too much and too little collagen can lead to acne scars. It might seem hopeless at the moment, but there are several options for treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective home remedies for acne scars, along with some medical treatments, as well.

5 Effective Home Remedies for Acne Scars

1] Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera is a favorite for sunburned or sun-parched skin, but did you know that it can be a healing addition to your acne care routine? Aloe vera has components that not only treat and heal acne but also reduce the scarring that can come along with it.

A compound in aloe vera called aloesin helps to lighten the hyperpigmentation that comes with scarring. Add this to aloe’s ability to boost the skin’s immune response and promote healing, and you’ve got one of the most powerful home remedies for acne scars.

How to Use Aloe Vera for Acne Scars

  • First, always make sure you gently cleanse the skin
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel or a non-irritating product that contains aloe vera to the entire face, focusing on acne-scarred areas
  • Allow to dry and then continue on with the rest of your face.
  • When establishing the best skincare routine, make sure to add aloe vera. It can be used daily to achieve results

2] Shea Butter

shea butter for acne

Shea butter is a natural emollient that’s found in many skincare products, but because of its moisturizing tendencies, it isn’t always thought of as being one of the best home remedies for acne scars. Shea butter is good for skin health, no matter what type of skin you have, but it can be especially useful in treating and healing problem skin.

Shea butter has a high percentage of essential fatty acids, and it is respected for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are both essential for healing the skin from acne and promoting accelerated cellular renewal that’s key to fading and eliminating acne scars.

How to Use Shea Butter for Acne Scars

  • The best way to use shea butter for acne is to purchase pure, raw shea butter and apply it sparingly to acne scars and trouble areas
  • You can also buy products that contain shea butter, just make sure that they include other quality ingredients that won’t make your acne worse

3] Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains several types of acids, including lactic acid, citric, and succinic acids. The acids in apple vinegar work as a type of natural exfoliant, removing old, dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and encouraging cellular rejuvenation in the deeper levels.

What happens is that the scars are lightened as cell turnover escalates. The skin heals faster, which can reduce the appearance and severity of acne scars. Apple cider vinegar isn’t an instant remedy, but it is an effective one.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne Scars

  • Cleanse your face and gently pat dry
  • Combine a mixture of 1 part of apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water (3 parts water if your skin is sensitive)
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture over your face
  • Let dry completely before rinsing with water
  • If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to try this on a test patch of skin first

4] Baking Soda

Baking soda is a useful part of acne care because it not only helps reduce the appearance of scars; it also helps prevent them from forming in the first place. Baking soda is an alkaline substance and helps balance the pH of your skin, which is typically unbalanced in the case of acne.

Baking soda also is anti-inflammatory and absorbs excess oil from the skin. It naturally works to relieve the swelling and discoloration of scars and creates a more hospitable environment for healing to take place.

How to Use Baking Soda for Acne Scars

  • Prepare your skin, make it nice and clean
  • Make a simple paste by mixing baking soda with distilled water until it forms a thick consistency
  • Apply the paste directly to acne scars and let dry
  • Rinse off or leave on overnight
  • Baking soda can also be added to facial cleansers as an exfoliant to help treat acne scars

5] Essential Oils

essential oil for face

Essential oils are used for a range of applications, and there is evidence to suggest that certain oils can be useful in treating inflammation[1], including the type you find in acne that leads to scarring.

The thing to remember about essential oils is that each of them is different and that not all of them are suitable for application to the delicate, often sensitive skin on your face. Tea tree, lavender, and rosehip essential oils are excellent choices for healing acne scars.

Using Essential Oils for Acne Scars

  • First, understand the essential oil that you’re using and make sure it’s suitable for direct application to the skin
  • Use only the best, most pure essential oils you can find and afford
  • Most oils should be diluted in a carrier oil, like almond or coconut oil before being applied to the skin
  • Test the oil mixture for irritation by applying it to the underside of your wrist
  • Apply the mixture directly to acne scars, starting with once a day and increasing to twice a day if well tolerated

Medical Treatment

Acne is troublesome enough on its own without dealing with the possibility of permanent scarring on top of it. Some people prefer to skip the home remedies for acne scars and head straight to the professionals for medical treatment that will eliminate acne scars for good.

Several different types of medical treatment can be effective in treating scars caused by acne. Here is more information about some of the most popular medical options.

Laser Resurfacing

laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing works by applying light, which emits heat, to the scar tissue. It helps to breakdown or remove scar tissue. Laser resurfacing also helps to smooth the skin’s surface and promote healthy cellular regeneration below.

Laser resurfacing isn’t ideal for everyone. People with more melanin in their skin might end up with residual discolorations. Some people also experience a mild amount of discomfort with laser resurfacing. The treatment itself can be expensive, depending on the degree of scarring, and is rarely covered under insurance.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a treatment that contains specific acids and other types of ingredients that remove the upper layers of skin cells. The idea is that by doing this, you also lift off the top layers of scar tissue and minimize the appearance of acne scars.

You can find chemical peels for at-home use, but they are less potent and effective than the ones you’d get in a medical setting. Most people experience at least some level of redness and irritation following a chemical peel. Repeated treatments may be necessary to achieve noticeable results in the reduction of acne scars.


Dermabrasion involves a skilled medical professional lightly scraping the skin with a small surgical blade. It’s akin to shaving but much more precise and aims to remove the upper layer of skin cells rather than cutting hairs.

Dermabrasion can be a good option for reducing scar tissue when done properly. You mustn’t try to attempt this procedure on your own at home. While dermabrasion is effective in smoothing the complexion in people with lighter skin, it can lead to discoloration in people with darker skin tones.


Injections are most effective at treating indented scars. The medical professional will choose an injectable based on the type and severity of scarring that you have. Often these treatments are collagen-based[2] and fill up the indented area of the skin.

Injections are best when acne scarring is more of a textural issue rather than one of discoloration. Depending on the type of injection, it may need to be repeated at regular intervals.

injections for acne

Frequently Asked Questions

1] Are acne scars permanent?

Acne scars can be permanent, yes, but not all of them are. Just like there are different types of acne, each person’s skin is going to react differently. Some people will have minor scarring that slowly begins to fade as the skin regenerates.

Others will have experienced acne scarring with a more permanent presence. You can usually spot the difference pretty early in the healing process. As a blemish heals, there may be some discoloration, especially if the blemish broke open and scabbed over. Small blemishes with slightly discolored scars are more likely to fade.

Cystic acne and blemishes that have been picked or become infected are more likely to damage tissue in the deeper layers of the skin. This is going to produce more permanent scarring that may require specialized treatment.

2] Does diet make my acne worse?

This isn’t a cut and dry question to answer. It has been shown that diet alone doesn’t cause acne. However, the way your body reacts to the food you eat can make acne worse.

Some people are more sensitive to inflammation-causing foods. When you consume an inflammatory food, like sugar, grease, or processed foods, the body responds by sending out inflammatory signals – which can also cause skin inflammation, otherwise known as acne.

If you’re someone who is triggered by eating too much chocolate, fried foods, etc., then yes, diet can make your acne worse.

3] Is sunlight or light therapy helpful?

There is this misconception that sunlight is a magical cure for acne, with the thought being that it helps to dry the skin out, thus eliminating excess oil. Sun damage can indeed dry the skin and may reduce the appearance of acne but this effect is only temporary.

First, when you suffer sun damage, your skin’s first response is to increase oil production in an attempt to protect it. By day three, you’re likely to find that oily skin has made your acne worse. Sun damage can also cause the skin to become flakey as it heals. Dry, flakey skin can settle into the pores – clogging them and promoting new acne breakouts.

A dermatologist may suggest that you add a weekly light therapy as part of the best skincare routine that you could develop. This involves going into the office and receiving treatment, or using a special device at home, that uses blue or red waves of light. This type of light therapy that doesn’t involve UV rays is safe and effective[3].

4] Will picking acne cause scarring?

Picking at your acne, including popping, and squeezing, can increase the risk of scarring. For starters, interfering by picking at your acne can only prolong the natural healing process. It creates a situation where the skin is damaged and inflamed longer, making it more likely to scar. Picking at acne can also introduce unwanted bacteria to the wound, making it worse and more prone to scarring.

5] Is surgery necessary to remove acne scars?

No, and in most cases, surgery shouldn’t be the first option. There are many effective home remedies for acne scars, as well as dermatological treatments that can help reduce or remove scarring without invasive procedures.


Acne is usually a temporary condition, but the scarring that remains can be permanent. The good news is that you don’t have to live with acne scarring. There are medical treatments and home remedies for acne care. If you have questions, reach out to a dermatologist who can assess your skin and suggest the best course of care.

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