woman taking care of acne scars

The Most Effective Acne Scar and Dark Spot Treatments

As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, acne leaves us with a spiteful, parting gift – acne scars. As fellow acne scar sufferers, we’re excited to bring you the best of dermatology’s acne scar and dark spot medical science and treatment.

Our goal is to clear and smooth out the aftermath of acne, but before anything else, focus on getting acne under control! Scars last way longer than the acne that caused them. By not taking care of your acne first, acne scars appear faster than they disappear and it’ll be a never-ending battle to clear skin. After securing the best acne treatment and routine for your skin, you’re ready to start the long haul toward clearing your acne scars. 

Kinds and Causes of Acne Scars

Simply speaking, there are 2 types: indented and raised. There are also dark spots that aren’t an acne scar, but they still leave a mark on your face. The good news is that it’s easy to determine which of these you have with just a glance at the mirror. The bad news is that no matter which treatment option you choose, getting rid of acne scars require a lot of patience. 

Sometimes, having acne scars are more annoying than getting the acne that causes them because at least acne doesn’t take months or years to disappear. Luckily, dermatology is here to give us the fastest ways to get rid of our acne scars.

Dark Spots

The medical term we use for acne left as dark spots is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It’s just a fancy way of saying that after inflammation, the affected area becomes a dark spot, but it’s not technically a scar. It makes our skin cells overproduce more melanin, the natural skin pigment that gives skin color, in the area of inflammation. 

This comes into play when our immune system uses it to turn acne into red bumps via an inflammatory response. The result is usually flat, dark spots where acne once was, and skin color is overproduced. These can take months to 2 years to fade on their own depending on how deep the acne was in your skin. 

Indented Acne Scars

These are the more common type of acne scar of the two and the medical term for it is atrophic acne scarring. Unfortunately, indented and raised scars are physical deformations that may stay on your face for an indefinite amount of time to fade. We’re talking years or your whole life. 

Indented acne scars form deep pits in your skin when your body fails to regenerate the space of skin that the acne took up. There are 3 types: ice pick, boxcar, or rolling. 


Types of Atrophic Acne Scars

Raised Acne Scars

These are rare forms that include hypertrophic scars and keloids. Like indented scars, raised acne scars could take years or your whole life to fade on their own. Contrary to indented, raised acne scars are firm bumps that form when the skin works a little too hard at regenerating the lost skin due to acne. 

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments can be covered by insurance and are a potent option against dark spots and indented acne scars. By applying these to the skin, one would greatly reduce the fade time of dark spots and indented acne scars. Here a couple of the most popular prescriptions available in medicine.



Tretinoin is one of the most popular acne scar topical prescription available. Tretinoin works by increasing cell turnover which basically means that new skin is being made at a faster rate. This is great for indented acne scars because it makes new skin cells that couldn’t be regenerated. It’s also great for dark spots because damaged skin cells overproducing melanin will be replaced by new skin cells with normal levels of melanin production. 

This greatly reduces the time it takes for these blemishes to disappear. It’s important to use tretinoin with guidance from a dermatologist because low doses might not affect your skin at all while excessive doses could be harsh on your skin. 


Hydroquinone is considered a “skin bleacher” for dark spots. By applying this onto the dark spots, it decreases the amount of melanin production in the skin. The potent prescription medication should be used under the supervision of a dermatologist because it can also beach unintended areas of skin.


Acne scar therapies are a highly effective treatment that can fade them immediately or greatly reduce fading time to weeks or a few months. They’re most effective against every type of mark left by acne. 

These are the most potent acne scar treatments available in medicine, but unfortunately, these incredible methods come with a catch: they can be very costly. These therapies aren’t covered by insurance, so one could easily dish out hundreds to thousands of dollars for these options. If you have deeply embedded scars, then this might be your best option since topical treatments would still take a long while to completely smooth out the skin. If you have raised scars, then this might be your only option. Here are the most effective therapies dermatology has available:




Chemical Peels


Injectable fillers





Silicone Gel


Acne Scars and SkyMD

As you might have guessed, the dermatologists of SkyMD can prescribe topical acne scar treatments, but we can’t perform acne scar therapies through our app. Although prescription topical treatment for acne scars is still a cheaper and more convenient option that we would love to help with. As always, talk with a dermatologist to see what are the best options to treat your acne scars.



**The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice.





Bradley Ventayen

Bradley is a medical assistant at SkyMD. He graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Physiology B.S. He is a part-time medical writer and an aspiring physician. He is blessed with the best mentors in the telemedical field to help him achieve his dreams and pursuit of knowledge.