The only thing worse than having a major pimple (or acne) is the long-term scarring that follows. Even if you care for your skin like a newborn infant, spots and red marks can linger for weeks or months. But there are expert ways to fade them fast—or prevent the scarring from even forming in the first place. We spoke with Yunyoung Claire Chang, a dermatologist at the Union Square Laser Dermatology; Dennis Gross, dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology; and Gilly Munavalli, medical director and founder of Dermatology, Laser, and Vein Specialists of the Carolinas, to give us the lowdown on how to prevent and get rid of acne scars—forever.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Acne scars are caused by inflammatory acne lesions, such as papules (pink raised bumps), pustules (pink bumps with white pus), or cysts. According to Chang, there are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing scars. First, it may be genetic: if you have family members who have acne scars, you’re at a higher risk of developing them too. Your skin type also affects the types of scarring. Chang says those with lighter complexions may be more prone to acne erythema (persistent redness) after inflammatory acne, while those with darker complexion patients may be more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or brown blemishing.
It’s obvious but bears repeating: don’t even think about touching a pimple. We tend to cause excess trauma that will worsen inflammation, resulting in scars. Chang says to avoid harsh scrubs and skincare products that can further irritate skin and to stop picking, popping, and squeezing acne as that will exacerbate inflammation. She warns that excess sun exposure can make acne blemishes darker, yet another reason to wear SPF 30 or higher every single day (no matter your skin type or tone).