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Over-the-Counter Acne Scar Creams

Updated on June 25, 2016

Reducing Acne Scars

Pimples, zits, acne -- all are a pain when they're forming, a pain when they're present, and a pain when they leave. The scarring may be the most frustrating part, as they remind us of the acne that used to exist. If you experienced acne and acne scarring, you're not alone -- 95% of acne patients will develop scarring to some degree.

What to do?

The earlier the treatment, the better your chances are that scarring will be limited. According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, delaying acne therapy by 3+ years will most likely increase the risk of substantial scarring. She recommends seeing a dermatologist first. If you can't see a professional, then the next best thing to reduce scarring is to use over-the-counter acne scar creams.


Reduce Scarring With Cortisone Acne Scar Removal Creams

Cortisone cream is a topical corticosteroid (steroid hormone) that reduces inflammation to the areas where it is applied. You can find these cortisone creams in drug stores and pharmacies under the name, hydrocortisone. You don't need a prescription to purchase 1% hydrocortisone, but if you want anything stronger than that you will need to see a doctor. Hydrocortisone cream is typically used to treat inflammation caused by rashes, eczema, insect bites, and arthritis, it has been found to be very effective in diminishing acne scars. The mild topical steroid in the cream reduces redness and helps fade scars by healing the damaged blood vessels under the skin.

To use, first wash the affected areas using mild soap and lukewarm water. Be gentle and avoid scrubbing your skin. After washing, apply a small amount of hydrocortisone cream directly to your inflamed scars twice a day. After about three weeks of this routine, you should see a noticeable reduction in the inflammation of your acne scars.

Safety Notes: When using topical cortisone, be sure to minimize sun exposure as hydrocortisone will increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Hydrocortisone creams also have a drying effect on the skin, so use a quality moisturizer with sunscreen added.

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Use Acne Scar Creams that Contain Kojic Acid

Kojic acid was first discovered in Japan over twenty-five years ago. It is a pigment-lightening agent that is derived from mushrooms and now used in many skin care creams and treatments. Kojic acid is most often used as a skin-lightening agent because of its melanin-inhibiting properties, making it great for reducing acne scars.

By inhibiting the production of skin melanin, kojic acid prevents the darkening of acne scars. Kojic Acid is also an antioxidant, keeping skin cells protected from free radicals that can damage the skin and impede healing.

Kojic Acid Skin Treatments come in many forms -- if you find it in soap you can use it daily to clean your face and help lighten dark pigmentation of scars. If you prefer Kojic Acid Cream, you can apply it directly to acne scars. There are different strengths (.2% to 1%) depending on the severity of the discoloration of your scars. If you have sensitive skin it is recommended that you use creams with a lower concentration of Kojic Acid.

Whatever form of Kojic Acid Acne Scar Treatment you decide to use, remember to regularly apply it twice a day to reap its benefits.


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Over-the-counter Acne Treatments with Silicone

If you have raised or keloid acne scars, skin creams with silicone can be effective as a treatment. Silicone acne scar treatments are found in many forms (creams, bandages, serums) in most drugstores. One of the most effective treatments for raised acne scars are silicone strips. These are adhesive strips that contain a thin layer of silicone. By applying these strips directly to your scars they will receive an intensive dose silicone, which will not only reduce the coloring of scars they also flatten them.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that silicone has the added benefit of reducing tenderness and itching associated with raised scars. They also site one study which shows that 34% of those with raised scars experienced improvement after 6 months when silicone gel was applied routinely. Remember that to receive optimal benefits from a silicone acne scar product you must be diligent and patient. Diligent is the regular use of the product and patient as it will take several months before you see noticeable improvement. use it regularly and be patient as it will take several months before you see visible improvement.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)are well known for their cosmetic usage and beneficial properties for the skin. If you've ever read the ingredients in anti-aging serums, you'll notice that they list alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in them as a key ingredient.

In 2007, a medical research study showed that acne scar removal creams containing AHAs effectively prevent and treat acne scarring. This is because AHAs sweep away dead skin cells, removing the top layer of skin, making scars less noticeable, and uncovering fresh, smooth skin. AHAs also stimulate an increased production of collagen, which helps heal the skin and heal acne scars. .

There are many different kinds of lotions and peels which utilize AHAs. Use these products regularly and you will notice a real difference in your scars after a few months. Dermatologists can also provide you with stronger AHA peels.

Since products with AHAs work by revealing new skin it is recommended that you protect yourself by stay out of the sun, wearing a hat, or using strong sunblock.

Hydroquinone Acne Scar Removal Creams

Hydroquinone is an ingredient used to lighten skin discolorations. It works by reducing the amount of melanin in the skin and making darkened areas lighter. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests using of this topical skin lightener to fade hyperpigmentation.

Acne scar removal creams that contain hydroquinone are available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms. To reduce scarring effectively, you should use a cream that contains at least 2% hydroquinone. To use, apply the cream regularly to areas of discoloration and rub it in thoroughly. Most patients who use hydroquinone cream see a change in the discolored skin within three weeks when using the cream twice a day.

Safety Notes: If you have a darker skin tone, it is recommended that you first see a dermatologist before using hydroquinone, as overuse can cause grey pigmentation, especially in darker skin. Also, do not use hydroquinone is tandem with peroxides or resorcinol and steer clear of using it around your eyes.

Allium Cepa (Onion Extract) Inhibits Excessive Collagen Production

Many over-the-counter acne scar removal creams contain allium cepa which is an extract from onion plants. When applied regularly to an acne scar, allium cepa can reduce skin inflammation.

An acne scar first forms because excess amounts of collagen fibers become arranged in such a way as to make a hardened scar. Diminishing the scar's appearance means reducing the amount of collagen fibers. Allium Cepa has been linked to shrinking acne scars by inhibiting excess collagen production. Acne scar creams with allium cepa are effective on indented and raised scars, as well as on both old and new ones, but it is best to begin treating them as soon as possible.

You can find Allium Cepa gel or lotion in any drugstore. To use,begin by massaging the product into your scars three to four times per day. If you have older scars you should apply the cream for a minimum of six months. Newer scars may only require eight weeks of application before you start seeing results.

Use Pockmark Fillers to Reduce Indented Acne Scars

Some acne scars can become indented in the skin, which are known as pockmarks. These scars will not heal by themselves and you will need to find a topical dermal filler to reduce their size. Pockmark fillers contain hyaluronic acid that works by filling up skin depressions over time. The end result is improved skin tone and clarity with minimized pits and pockmarks. Dermal filler kits often come with pen-like applicators that contain the cream or lotion.

To use, first make sure all makeup is removed and wash your skin with a gentle cleanser. Take one of the application pens and apply directly to the indented scar. Use the filler twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. For maximum effectiveness use each applicator pen for just one week and then dispose. You will need to use this product for at least a full month before you begin to see results.

Use Glycolic Acid to Erase Acne Scars

Glycolic acid increases cell turnover. which is why it is found in many wrinkle creams and acne scar removal creams. This hydroxyacetic acid is a colorless and odorless substance is derived from sugar cane. As a skin exfoliant, it works to loosen the dead skin cells that have built up over time and caused bumps or scars. Brighter, newer skin is revealed and lines and dips are smoothed out. If your acne scars have caused hyperpigmentation, glycolic acid can also help fade the dark patches of skin. A study conducted in 2000, examined the effect of glycolic acid scar treatments and found that 67% of participants saw a diminishing of scars after 4 weeks.

To use, start with a low dilution of glycolic acid, and then increase the concentration gradually, as your skin gets more accustomed to it. Over time, even a small dose of 10-12% intensity of glycolic acid will help diminish pock marks and acne scars. Take care when using higher concentrations, as the higher the concentration of glycolic acid, the more layers of skin will be removed, and the longer it will take the skin to recover.

Have you had success reducing acne scars with over-the-counter treatments? Share your experiences below!

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