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How to Get Rid of Dark Spots Left by Acne

Rising hormone levels, clogged pores and bacteria all conspire to cause acne, an inflammatory skin condition characterized by pimples or blemishes. The condition is most common during the teen years, but can continue well into your 30s or 40s, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. The level of inflammation you have determines the type of blemishes you get, such as blackheads or cysts 1. When the blemishes burst or subside, they often leave dark spots that can take a few days or weeks to fade.

Wash the affected area with a mild exfoliating scrub, which will slough away dead skin cells more quickly and increase cell turnover. However, exfoliating too harshly can damage your skin, so the American Academy of Dermatology or AAD recommends using a scrub consisting of sodium tetraborate decahydrate granules or polyethylene beads, which are gentler on your skin.

How to Treat Acne With Hydrocortisone

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Consult your doctor or dermatologist to get a prescription for a cream or gel with hydroquinone, a chemical that can bleach or lighten dark spots. While hydroquinone is available over the counter, prescription strength creams are more reliable in hydroquinone content. They also contain a higher concentration of hydroquinone and will fade dark marks quicker.

Speak to your doctor or dermatologist about undergoing an in-office chemical peel or using one at home. These products, which contain different acids such as glycolic, lactic or salicylic, can treat mild scarring from acne and reduce discoloration, according to the AAD. Another option to discuss with your doctor is dermabrasion, a procedure that involves using a high-speed rotating brush, ablative lasers or aluminum oxide crystals and other abrasive substances to remove dead skin cells and reduce scarring.


Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF every time you go outside. It will prevent the spots from becoming darker and protect your skin when you're wearing hydroquinone, which increases sun sensitivity.

Do not pick or squeeze your pimples; it makes the scarring worse.

Take a borage oil supplement. It’s rich in omega 6 essential fatty acids and helps to stimulate new skin growth, according to the Merry Clinic in California. It also reduces inflammation, redness and scaling--all of which contribute to scarring.


When used incorrectly, hydroquinone skin products cause severe scarring and discolor normal skin around the dark marks. Apply hydroquinone only to the darkened skin and stop using it once the marks have disappeared.