Why Are My Acne Scars Getting Darker?




why are my acne scars getting darker

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Acne can be both frustrating and discouraging, especially when it leaves behind stubborn scars that seemingly grow darker by the day. If you’re wondering why your acne scars are getting darker and how to address this issue, you’re not alone.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into understanding the different types of acne scars, explore the reasons behind their darkening, and provide practical tips for prevention as well as effective remedies to help lighten these pesky marks.

Key Takeaways

  • Acne scars can get darker due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which occurs when excess melanin is produced during inflammation and continues even after the pimple has healed.
  • Exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes, picking or squeezing pimples, and certain skincare products can all contribute to darker acne scars.
  • To prevent and reduce the appearance of darker acne scars, protect your skin from UV rays with sunscreen and protective clothing, maintain a gentle skincare routine, consider professional treatments like chemical peels or laser therapy, and incorporate topical treatments containing retinoids or vitamin C.
  • It’s important to consult with a dermatologist for severe cases of scarring or before trying new skincare products. Natural remedies such as aloe vera or lemon juice may also be effective in lightening scars.

Understanding Acne Scars And Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Acne scars are the result of inflammation due to acne, while post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) refers to the dark spots left on the skin after a pimple has healed.

What Are Acne Scars?

Acne scars are the result of our skin’s natural healing process after experiencing an acne breakout. They occur when inflammation caused by pimples damages the skin, leading to a disruption in collagen production and irregular pigmentation.

For example, if you’ve ever noticed a dark mark lingering long after a pimple has healed, that is likely post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is one common type of acne scar.

Another type you might encounter is indentation scarring, which appears as depressions or pits on your skin due to loss of collagen during the healing process.

How Does PIH Contribute To Darker Scars?

When a pimple forms, it causes inflammation in the skin, and the body produces melanin to protect and heal the affected area. Melanin is responsible for skin pigmentation, and when produced in excess amounts during inflammation, it can lead to dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

This means that if you’re prone to acne breakouts, you’re more likely to experience PIH and have darker acne scars. This is especially true for those with a darker complexion because their skin already contains more melanocytes – cells that produce melanin – than lighter-skinned individuals.

Additionally, picking at pimples or using harsh products can intensify PIH and make your scars appear even darker.

Types Of Acne Scars

Acne scars come in different types, and understanding your specific type can help determine the best treatment option. Here are the most common types of acne scars:

  • Ice pick scars: small and deep pits that resemble puncture wounds
  • Boxcar scars: broad depressions with sharply defined edges
  • Rolling scars: broad depressions with sloping edges
  • Hypertrophic or keloid scars: raised, thickened areas of scar tissue that form around the site of an injury

Causes Of Darker Acne Scars

Exposure to sunlight and UV rays, hormonal changes, picking or squeezing pimples, and use of certain skincare products all contribute to darker acne scars.

Exposure To Sunlight And UV Rays

I know that it’s tempting to bask in the sun during summer, but spending too much time in the sun can worsen acne scars. Sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation and make existing dark spots more noticeable.

To prevent this from happening, I always advise wearing sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 daily and reapplying every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

It’s also recommended to wear protective clothing like hats and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for extended periods.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on the skin, contributing to acne and scarring. For instance, during puberty or menstrual cycles, hormones such as testosterone increase oil production in the skin’s sebaceous glands.

This leads to clogged pores and inflammation that results in pimples and blackheads. Moreover, hormonal imbalances can impact melanin production in the body, leading to uneven pigmentation and darkening of scars.

In some cases, hormonal fluctuations may also make existing scars worse over time.

Picking Or Squeezing Pimples

As tempting as it may be, picking or squeezing pimples can lead to more significant scarring and darker hyperpigmentation. When we pick at a blemish, we are causing damage to the skin’s surface and introducing bacteria into the pores, which can exacerbate inflammation.

Picking also disrupts the healing process by traumatizing the blood vessels that surround the acne lesion. This trauma leads to increased melanin production, resulting in dark spots left on the skin even after the pimple has healed.

Use Of Certain Skincare Products

Some skincare products can make acne scars darker and more noticeable. Products containing alcohol, fragrances, or harsh chemicals can cause irritation and inflammation in the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation.

It’s best to avoid using these types of products on your face if you have acne scars. Instead, opt for gentle cleansers and moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or niacinamide that help promote cell turnover and reduce inflammation.

Additionally, topical treatments with retinoids or vitamin C have been found effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars.

Prevention And Reduction Of Darker Acne Scars

To prevent and reduce the appearance of darker acne scars, it is essential to protect your skin from UV rays, maintain a gentle skincare routine, consider professional treatments like chemical peels or laser therapy, and incorporate topical treatments containing retinoids or vitamin C.

Use Of Sunscreen And Protective Clothing

As someone who has been dealing with acne scars, I know how frustrating it can be when they seem to get darker over time. That’s why one of the most important things you can do is protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

To prevent this from happening, I recommend using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day. This will not only protect your skin from further damage but also help reduce hyperpigmentation caused by existing scars.

Additionally, wearing protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves can also provide an extra layer of defense against UV rays.

Gentle Skincare Routine

One of the best ways to prevent acne scars from getting darker is by practicing a gentle skincare routine. Here are some tips:

  • Use a gentle cleanser: Look for cleansers that don’t contain harsh ingredients that can irritate your skin further. Cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help treat active breakouts, but they should be used sparingly.
  • Moisturize regularly: Keeping your skin moisturized can help prevent dryness and irritation, which can make hyperpigmentation worse. Look for lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers that won’t clog your pores.
  • Use sunscreen every day: UV exposure can darken existing acne scars, so it’s important to wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day. Choose a broad-spectrum formula that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid picking or squeezing pimples: This can cause further inflammation and worsen scarring. If you have an urge to pick, try placing a warm compress on the area instead.
  • Don’t overdo it with exfoliation: Too much exfoliation can strip away the skin’s protective barrier and lead to more irritation. Stick to gentle exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and use them no more than once or twice a week.

Remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be patient and consistent with your skincare routine, and consult with a dermatologist if you’re not seeing results.

Professional Treatments Such As Chemical Peels And Laser Therapy

I know that dealing with acne scars can be frustrating. However, there are professional treatments available to help reduce the appearance of your scars. Here are some effective options:

  • Chemical peels: This technique involves the use of chemical solutions to exfoliate the top layer of your skin and improve its texture and appearance. Chemical peels can help reduce hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars.
  • Laser therapy: This treatment uses focused light energy to penetrate your skin’s surface and stimulate collagen production and cell regeneration. Laser therapy can effectively reduce the appearance of acne scars or even remove them completely.
  • Microneedling: This treatment involves using a device with small needles that puncture your skin’s surface, stimulating collagen production and breaking down scar tissue. Microneedling can also promote faster healing and rejuvenation of your skin.

Remember, these treatments should only be done by a licensed dermatologist or skincare professional. It’s important to discuss your individual needs and concerns with them before undergoing any procedure. With proper care, you’ll soon see an improvement in the appearance of your acne scars.

Topical Treatments Containing Retinoids Or Vitamin C

Another effective way to reduce the appearance of acne scars and dark spots is by using topical treatments containing retinoids or vitamin C. Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, work by increasing collagen production in the skin and improving its texture.

They can also help exfoliate dead skin cells, reducing hyperpigmentation caused by acne.

When choosing a topical treatment containing retinoids or vitamin C for treating acne scars and dark spots, it’s important to look for products with low concentrations at first to avoid irritation.

Over time, you can increase concentration as your skin becomes more tolerant. It’s also essential to follow your skincare routine diligently and use sunscreen daily since these treatments make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Natural Remedies For Lightening Acne Scars

– Aloe vera can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and fade dark scars when applied directly to the affected area.

– Lemon juice contains citric acid that exfoliates dead skin cells and helps lighten acne blemishes, but it may cause irritation in some people.

– Honey has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the skin and help reduce scarring when applied topically.

– Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can also help even out hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars.

– Using natural remedies consistently over time will lead to gradual results in reducing the appearance of acne scars.

Aloe Vera

I also recommend using aloe vera to help with acne scars. Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce skin irritation and redness, making it perfect for blemish-prone skin.

The gel from the aloe vera plant has been shown to help reduce hyperpigmentation and scarring by lightening the skin and promoting cell regeneration. You can apply fresh aloe vera directly onto your acne scars or opt for products that contain a higher concentration of aloe vera if you prefer not to use the raw plant itself.

Lemon Juice

I have found that using lemon juice on my acne scars has helped to lighten them over time. Lemon juice contains natural acids that help exfoliate the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

To use, simply apply fresh lemon juice to a cotton ball and dab it onto the affected areas. Leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. However, it is important to note that lemon juice can be harsh on sensitive skin and may cause irritation or dryness, so always do a patch test first and dilute with water if needed.


As a natural remedy for lightening acne scars, honey has been used for centuries. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation caused by acne while promoting healing and regeneration of the skin cells.

Honey can be applied directly on clean skin as a mask or combined with other ingredients such as lemon juice, turmeric, or cinnamon to enhance its effectiveness. Anecdotal evidence suggests that using honey regularly can help to fade dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation over time.


Turmeric is a popular natural remedy for lightening acne scars. It contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help reduce pigmentation caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

To use turmeric for your scars, you can mix it with honey or plain yogurt to make a face mask. Apply the mixture evenly on your face, and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

It’s important to note that while turmeric may be effective in reducing the appearance of acne scars, it may not work for everyone. Additionally, using too much turmeric may cause skin irritation or yellow staining of the skin.

When To Seek Professional Help

If you have severe scarring, persistent hyperpigmentation, or complications from DIY treatments, it’s best to seek professional help from a dermatologist who can offer proper guidance and effective treatment options.

Severe Scarring

Dealing with severe acne scars can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. People who suffer from deep scarring may feel frustrated and helpless! These types of scars, often referred to as ice pick or boxcar scars, are typically the result of cystic or nodular acne.

It’s important to note that seeking professional help for your severe scarring is crucial in achieving optimal results. A dermatologist will perform a thorough evaluation of your skin type and condition before recommending the appropriate treatment plan for you.

Does acne extraction leave scars?

Persistent Hyperpigmentation

Dealing with persistent hyperpigmentation can be frustrating, especially when it comes to acne scars. It refers to an overproduction of melanin in the affected area that makes it appear darker than the surrounding skin.

This discoloration can persist even after the blemish has healed and may take several months or longer to fade away on its own. Unfortunately, some people are more prone to developing hyperpigmentation due to their skin type, ethnicity, or genetics.

However, there are solutions available ranging from topical treatments containing agents like hydroquinone and kojic acid to chemical peels that exfoliate the top layer of skin.

Complications From DIY Treatments

As acne scars can be frustrating and difficult to treat, it’s tempting to try out various DIY remedies. However, relying on untested methods can lead to complications that ultimately make your scarring worse.

In some cases, you may even cause more damage to your skin than good. For example, using harsh chemical peels or abrasive scrubs at home can cause redness and irritation that ultimately leads to prolonged inflammation and potentially worsening hyperpigmentation.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Conclusion: Take Control Of Acne Scars And PIH

In conclusion, if you’re wondering why your acne scars are getting darker, it’s likely due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This condition can occur after a pimple heals and causes dark spots on the skin.

To prevent and reduce darker acne scars, protect your skin from sun exposure with sunscreen and protective clothing, avoid picking or squeezing pimples, and use gentle skincare products.

For more severe cases of scarring, seek professional treatments like chemical peels or laser therapy. You can also try natural remedies such as aloe vera or lemon juice to help lighten the scars.

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