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Over the Counter Acne Scar Treatments

Updated on July 23, 2009

As if dealing with years of acne isn't insult enough, many people are left with acne scars from the trauma, leading to continued self-consciousness and embarassment. There are numerous solutions from dermatologists that are expensive and that work for some and not for others. If you want to try to tackle your acne scars without visiting a dermatologist, here are facial acne scar treatments that can help reduce acne scars, smooth skin, and restore confidence.

Acne Scars: Causes and Types

Acne scars are caused by the body's attempt to repair damage to the tissue. Some pimples remain as a flattened red spot that will disappear within 6 months (a macule); this is not a scar, but the body's natural last stage in healing. Other scars are the depressions that remain causing a pebbled surface on the face; these are the most traumatic for the acne sufferer. Most acne scars are due to a loss of tissue from the trauma of the inflammation of the pimple.

Types of Acne Scars

Icepick scars: These are unsightly, jagged-edged depressions in the face, as though the skin has been poked with an ice pick.

Soft, rolling scars: These are soft scars with rolling sides that blend into the skin around them. They give a sort of orange peel effect to the skin.

Boxed scars: These are generally shallower than icepick scars with square, boxy edges.

Hypertrophic scars: These are raised scars that remain within the boundaries of the original trauma.

Keloid scars: These are raised scars that go beyond the boundaries of the original trauma. The scar tissue has gone out of control in these cases.

Natural Acne Scar Treatments

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne Scars

For shallow, rolling acne scars--like an orange peel--try the following treatment:

Drink 8 glasses of water a day with half a teaspoon of lemon juice in each one. One easy way to accomplish this is to use a large bottle of water with half a teaspoon of lemon juice for every 8 ounces of water. The theory is that the lemon flushes toxins out of your body throughout the day; the removal of the toxins in the body helps stop the acne.

At the same time you are drinking the lemon juice, use the following vinegar solution on your face: 1 part apple cider vinegar, 2 parts water. Rub this into your face with a cotton ball morning and night. The malic acid in the vinegar gently exfoliates your skin and people have noticed improvements from using this natural solution. If you are using topical creams or moisturizers, use the vinegar solution before your topical regimen.

This natural acne scar treatment may take 2-3 months for visible improvement, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it does help with acne scars. The lemon juice water also can help with future breakouts by preventing acne internally because it flushes your system.

Camellia Seed Oil for Acne Scars

Camellia seed oil, also called silkia oil, is an oil derived from the evergreens camellias. The seeds are cold pressed and the oil is processed and filtered. Women in Asia have used silkia oil for centuries in their skin and hair. Primarily the oil is a moisturizer, and it is a good one--effective without being to heavy. There is anecdotal evidence, however, that silkia oil can plump the skin and can eliminate pockmarks and pitted acne scars over time. These effects can take around 1 year to 18 months, so it is not a quick fix, but it is not an expensive item and can be used as a moisturizer with the possible secondary benefits of scar removal. If you are still prone to breakouts, I would advise against using this product as it is an oil and can block pores.

Topical Over-the-Counter Acne Scar Treatments

University Medical Acnefree Pockmark Filler

One package runs about $15-$20, and consists of 4 pens, which is a month's supply. The hyaluronic acid ingredient is known for "plumping" skin up, so this method will work for indentations, pockmarks, and shallow, rolling acne scars. You apply it using the pen just to the scars morning and night, using one pen per week. It only works as long as you are using it, so it's not a cure. However,  numerous users have found that this acne scar treatment does reduce the appearance of scars while it is being used.


Mederma is a topical scar remover, and is not specifically billed for acne scars. Evidence is that it can help with red and discolored areas, but does not have much effect on pitted acne scars. It is expensive (usually over $20 for a small tube) and can take several weeks to work. It is probably best used to prevent new scars from forming during the healing process.

Scar Zone

Scar Zone is a topical scar remover, and like Mederma, is not specifically for acne scars. Evidence is that it can help with red marks and discoloration, but has little effect on pitted acne scars. It is generally less expensive than Mederma, and there is anecdotal evidence that it is as effective, though it (like Mederma) takes several weeks to work. The best applications of Scar Zone are likely during the healing process of a pimple to prevent acne scarring.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid increases cellular turnover, and is found in many wrinkle creams. While it won't be a miracle cure, over time a 10%-12% concentration of glycolic acid can help dimish pock marks and other depressions in the skin. It will probably be at least 6 months before there is a noticible reduction in acne scars. 

Acne Scar Prevention

The best thing you can do is prevent future scars. Acne treatments are plentiful, and it seems that different things work on different people's acne. You can read what worked for me here. If you are in the process of getting your acne under control, follow these tips to prevent scarring.

  • Don't pick--ever! Why is it so tempting to pick a zit? Sometimes it's as though it is calling to you to pop and pick at it, but resist this urge. This is a number one addition of trauma to the face that it does not need and your few minutes of satisfying picking will be rewarded with a lifetime of a scar. Hands off.
  • Avoid scrubs. If you have a breakout, avoid using exfoliating scrubs that contain beads, walnut shells, or peach pits--these can tear open the skin and cause trauma, resulting in scars. Exfoliation is good, but use another method, such as the apple cider vinegar recipe above, a gentle toner, or glycolic acid to get rid of those excess dead skin cells.
  • Ice the breakout. This works just like icing a sprained ankle. It reduces the inflammation and calls in the white blood cells, important aspects of your immune system that will help fight the infection causing the breakout and speed healing.
  • Vitamin E can help speed the healing process and prevent scarring. Medical trials have found that taking the vitamin internally is more effective than applying it to skin, but anecdotal evidence has people clamoring at the success of slathering vitamin E oil on their skin. Take a vitamin E supplement, or eat a diet rich in the vitamin (almonds, mango, broccoli, spinach, and peanuts are good sources).
  • Aloe vera is a natural wound healer, and can help with the inflammation and irritation of acne. There is little evidence that it will help with older acne scars, but it can help speed healing and prevent scarring when applied during the healing process.
  • Natural Acne Solutions


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    • profile image

      Swara chavan 2 years ago

      I have scar and black spots and hair on my me..wht to do....????

    • profile image

      Aqsa 2 years ago

      i have scars and spots on my chin,,,plz help me what to do? ??

    • profile image

      Naveen Kumar 2 years ago

      I want get rid of scars on my face. so plz help me with diz......

      if u have the address text me to diz number


    • profile image

      bh 3 years ago

      Bbhj hmmb c uhh nc

    • profile image

      Frenchie 6 years ago

      I've been using the Made From Earth Rosehip Serum for over a week, and wanted to share how thankful I am for finding it.

      As soon as I put it on my face, it felt softer, much softer to where my husband wanted to touch my face. Nothing else has helped my sensitive and upset, unruly skin. I feel better about myself already because I'm not ashamed to look at my face in the mirror, because it looks smooth now, and I don't just see lots of pores and little pockmarks from years of troubled skin and picking at my face. I don't imagine this will completely disappear the pockmarks, but I think it has given my skin the hydration it was really looking for, which helps my skin appear much, much smoother.

      I'm hooked. My hubbie is using it too, he likes it.

    • profile image

      Mimidude 6 years ago

      GREAT article!!!!!!!!

    • brennawelker profile image

      brennawelker 6 years ago

      Good job.

    • profile image

      Terri 7 years ago

      you leave it on. :)

    • profile image

      bob 7 years ago

      Does anyone know if after the vinegar treatment you should wash it off your face or leave it on?


    • profile image

      MountainClimber 7 years ago

      I'm going to try the natural remedies listed (i.e. 8 glasses of water with lemon and the apple cider vinegar thing). Although the over-the-counter ones sound appealing, I feel as though a "skin plumper" might result in long term facial damage. Thank you so much for this though. I considered spending 5g on facial surgery when my face isn't really bad. I needed something like this and I feel like it will work on my few shallow scars.

    • profile image

      Meeee 7 years ago

      Yay! I'm going for Mederma, I'll let you all know if it works for me

    • profile image

      need chin acne scar treatment! 7 years ago

      Hi! I just wanted to say that i really enjoyed your hub on how to help cure acne scars! These products look great and i deff think i am going to look into them!

      Thank you for taking the time to write this hub. I really enjoyed reading it! :)

    • hms86 profile image

      hms86 7 years ago

      Thanks for the detailed article on acne scar healing.

    • profile image

      zsikder1 8 years ago

      Acne is not a result of uncleanliness or infrequent washing. In other words, acne does not result from too much dirt on the skin or in the pores. Bacteria that normally live on the skin also play a role in acne development. The bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes are responsible for causing acne. These bacteria produce substances that cause redness and irritation (inflammation).

    • profile image

      mzoghori 8 years ago

      There are ways through which you can keep off these acne in your day to day life. Here are some eof these ways that you can employ to make sure that your body is free of these acne;

      Cloth; You should avoid garments made exclusively of Lycra and nylon if you are prone to body acne since some synthetic fabrics can strap the heat and moisture against your skin. This creates a fertile breeding ground for the bacteria that contribute to acne.

      For moderate exercise, use light weight, loose fitting cotton or a lycra-cotton blend. Natural fabrics allow the skin to breath and loose garments are less likely to cause friction. If you exercise vigorously and work up a good sweat, try some of the new fabrics designed to wink moisture away from your skin.

      Wear as little make-up as possible when exercising.

      After exercise shower using medicated exfoliant cleanser, but always be gentle on your skin since scrubbing harder is not going to make you more cleaner or make you acne disappear. It may instead irritate existing lesions or promote the development of new ones. If you find it hard to shower the right way , you curb breakouts by wiping down with medicated pads; keep a few in your gym bag just in case.

    • AskLindaDavis profile image

      AskLindaDavis 8 years ago

      That's a great article, well written and informative.


    • wak profile image

      wak 8 years ago

      Good article. This idea work

    • sime profile image

      sime 8 years ago from pakistan

      very beneficial article for visitors i appreciate the write of article.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      Excellent article to give people some real treatment options for acne scars.

    • profile image

      jane114 8 years ago

      thank you i appericiate for all the info.above.

      some people dont want to share im glad there are good people are still left to help about this sufferness that we have been through..