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Your Guide to Managing & Treating Pitted Acne Scars

Your Guide to Managing & Treating Pitted Acne Scars

Dealing with acne is never fun. However, dealing with acne scars is a far more frustrating situation. That's because acne scars -- particularly pitted acne scars -- are extremely difficult to treat. They're the ones that leave behind a pit-like impression in the skin. 

While pitted acne scars are a common skin condition, there's not one effective solution for getting rid of them. The good news is, there are ways to minimize their appearance. Here's what you should know about managing and treating the pitted acne scars that breakouts leave behind.



Pitted acne scars are acne scars with a pit-like, hallow appearance on the skin. This dented appearance is due to a sudden loss of collagen. Pitted acne scars typically occur from the damage and inflammation of deep breakouts, which creates an indentation on the skin.

According to dermatologists, there are three main types of acne scars: boxcar scars, ice pick scars, and rolling scars.

  • Boxcar scars: Broad depressionswith sharp, well-defined edges.
  • Ice pick scars: Small, narrow, and deep.
  • Rolling scars:"Similar to boxcar scars but smoother and shallower.

Pitted scars typically occur when people pick or squeeze their pimples, do not follow an acne-focused skincare routine, or have inflammatory acne that penetrates deep into the skin causing damage.

While they are the types of pitted acne scars, there are many more types ranging from keloid scars to depressed scars, hypertrophic scars to atrophic acne scars.



#1: Deep Clean With Salicylic Acid

Everyone should be cleansing daily. That's a fundamental part of any skincare routine. If you have acne-prone skin, this is even more importance since the buildup of oil and dead skin cells and clog pores and lead to blemishes. And if you're dealing with pitted acne scars, you should be using an exfoliating cleanser to smooth out the skin's surface and stimulate collagen production.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates deep into the pores and cleans them out. Look for a gentle cleanser that contains salicylic acid and use it daily to treat acne scars and prevent future breakouts from forming. And finish with a lightweight moisturizer formulated with hyaluronic acid to nourish the skin while promoting healing of scar tissue. 


#2: Apply Retinol

"Retinol (or vitamin A) is useful for acne as it fades hyperpigmentation by increasing the cell turnover rates," explains aesthetic practitioner and ambassador for Filorga, Dr. Philippe Hamida-Pisal

Retinol is known for stimulating collagen production and speeding cell turnover, which is why you'll often find it in anti-aging skincare products. However, retinoids are just as effective at treating acne and discoloration caused by acne.

As always when it comes to active skincare, use sparingly in the beginning and gradually increase your usage. Remember to wear sunscreen every single day.


#3: Bring in the Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are over the counter chemical exfoliants that help the skin to churn out fresher, brighter, plumper skin.

Alpha-hydroxy-acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid work by dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, revealing clearer, brighter skin underneath.

You will find AHAs in Rainbow's Tighten Bundle. Red microalgae works as a potent antioxidant alongside a blend of alpha hydroxy acids to boost collagen production, smooth out scars, and spur the shedding of dull, dead skin cells.


#4: Use a Vitamin C Serum

When it comes to brightening dark spots and hyperpigmentation, vitamin C is your best weapon. In addition to brightening the skin, vitamin C creams and serums stimulate new collagen production and protect skin from free radical damage. It's an excellent treatment option for fading scars, improving skin texture, and enhancing skin tone.

You will find vitamin C in Rainbow's Smooth Bundle. Vitamin C and vegan collagen work in tandem to thicken the dermis to gently smooth out post-acne pitted scars.


#5: Chemical Peels

If you don't have severe acne scars, a chemical peel could be your best option. If you don't fancy getting it done at your local dermatology clinic, try getting yourself an at-home peel. These work on renewing the top layer of skin, reducing the depth of the scar. Dermatologists swear by this resurfacing method for the treatment of acne scars.


#6: Microneedling With Radiofrequency

Microneedling creates small superficial areas of mechanical injury that work to stimulate the repair response, thereby increasing collagen production. When collagen levels rise, those pitted scars will look a lot less visible over time. When combined with radio frequency, it becomes even more powerful—triggering a more robust inflammatory and collagen response.

Consult a dermatologist to see if this would be beneficial for your skin type and specific case. 


#7: Laser Resurfacing

Fraxel lasers can be non-ablative, meaning that they emit heat beneath the skin while leaving the surface intact. Non-ablative lasers are much less invasive than ablative, so you can expect to need multiple treatments for clinical results. On the plus side, there's no downtime with non-ablative laser resurfacing, and there are no very unpleasant side effects.

If you're dealing with raised scars, pitted scars, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, speak to your dermatologist about laser treatments, and which would be best for your skin type and concerns.


Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, dermal filler injections, and LED therapy may also be effective in fading pitted acne scars. The list of acne treatments goes on! Your dermatologist will be able to identify which treatment would be the best for your specific case. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best way to prevent pitted acne scars is by establishing a targeted skincare routine early and keeping your paws off active breakouts. 

If you are dealing with acne lesions, start using topical treatments designed to kill acne-causing bacteria and encourage fresh new skin cell turnover beneath. Taking these actions now will prevent deep scars from forming in the first place!


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