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Acne scars: Self-care

It may seem that acne scars are inevitable; however, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of seeing scars when the acne clears. 

Dermatologists recommend the following steps for self-care of acne scars.

Treat the acne

The fewer breakouts you have, the less likely you are to develop acne scars. 

Treating acne is especially important to prevent scarring, if you have any of the following.

  • Severe (painful cysts and nodules) acne: This type of acne is more likely to leave a scar as it clears.

  • Acne that began at a young age: People who develop acne in their preteens often develop severe acne within few years. Dermatologists recommend that a preteen who has acne receive a dermatologic exam. Treating the acne before it becomes severe has benefits, including less risk of developing acne scars.

  • Blood relatives who have acne scars: The tendency to develop acne scars often runs in the family.

  • No results with acne treatments that you can buy without a prescription: A dermatologist can help you find effective treatment for your acne.   

When acne clears, continue treatment

To keep your skin blemish free, dermatologists recommend continuing acne treatment. Most people can taper their treatment so that they use one product a few times per week.

A dermatologist can tell you when you can stop treating your skin.

Avoid picking, squeezing, and popping

Picking, popping, and squeezing can turn a minor breakout into a major problem—a permanent acne scar.

Practice gentle skin care

When acne flares, many people scrub their skin clean. Scrubbing your skin tends to worsen acne. The worse acne gets, the greater your chance of seeing permanent scars when the acne clears. 

Lee DH et al. “Comparison of a 585-nm pulsed dye laser and a 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser for the treatment of acne scars: A randomized split-face clinical study.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 60:801-7.

Thiboutot, D et al. “New insights into the management of acne: An update from the Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne Group.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:5(sup. 1) S1-S50.