Acne Scars DIY Treatments; At A Glance
- Best Results5-15+ sessions
- Treatment Recovery0-4 days
- Procedure Time5 minutes every 1-2 weeks
- Skin SpecialistYou, with help from me
- Duration of ResultsMany years to permanent
- Back to WorkNext Day
Acne Scars; DIY Home Treatments
In the ideal world, patients with acne scars should be medically managed by trained specialist nurses, therapists & in severe cases, by dermatologists & plastic surgeons. Costs & travel constraints are rate limiting factors for some patients, hence this landing page.
FactsFacts on DIY Home Remedies for Acne Scars
- Mild cases of acne scarring can be improved with DIY treatments
- Controlling acne is paramount prior to treatments
- Retinol & retinoids can reduce acne,& acne scars
- Pigment inhibitors & sunscreen can reduce brown marks
- Sensible Dermaroller or Dermastamping can improve scars
- For mild to moderate cases nurses & dermal therapists can assist
- For severe cases a dermatologist or plastic surgeon can help
How can I safely treat my scars at home?
This page will give you a sensible idea of how to safely treat mild to moderate or early (less than 3 months old) acne scars. These guidelines are not the Gold Standard in managing acne scars, however they are cost effective. Guidelines are aimed at –
- Treating acne & placing it in remission
- Creams that can help with scar remodelling & collagen generation
- CIT or collagen induction therapy using simple cost effective tools from eBay or Amazon
- Creams that help with post acne marks, including dark patches (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) or red marks (Post Inflammatory Erythema)
These suggestions are a compromise between safety, affordability, & technical skill. They are not designed to replace clinical analysis & specialist management of acne scarring.
What is the best cream for acne scars?
Retinoic acid, in particular retinoids (as well as retinol), can treat acne & acne scars. Differin or adapalene is the most studied retinoid for the treatment of acne scars. This is OTC or over the counter in the United States & in some countries in Europe. In Australia it is prescription only (however, apparently you can order this through Amazon or other websites. Hint.) Review the section on how to use retinoids on this website for better understanding.
AHAs, in particular glycolic acid can be useful in the management of acne scars. Concentrations of 8 to 15% are recommended. AHAs can be used on alternate nights with your retinoid of choice. Note- AHAs & retinoids can cause significant skin irritation if used together. Be guided by your skin care expert.
Ascorbic acid or vitamin C can reduce dark acne spots, known as PIH or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Formulations containing 10-20% L-Ascorbic Acid are recommended. Note- Vitamin C & Retinoid / AHA can cause significant skin irritation if used together. Be guided by your skin care expert.
Niacinamide or vitamin B can reduce inflammation from acne, in addition to reducing post acne marks. This vitamin is best for patients who have sensitive skin.
Disclaimer: My work is a procedural dermatologist, I do not consult with products in mind. My focus is on lasers, surgery, & injectables. My clinical staff are experts in the field of product use. My clinical team are experts in the management of acne & mild to moderate acne scarring.
How can you treat brown acne marks at home?
Brown marks from acne are termed PIH or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 50% of PIH will persist for one year, 25% will be apparent at the 5 year mark. You can do the following DIY treatments to reduce or prevent PIH-
- Sunscreen. Twice a day, regardless of sun exposure
- Retinoids can reduce acne, preventing PIH
- Vitamin C can repair scars & reduce pigment
- Azelaic acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory & pigment inhibitor
- AHAs such as glycolic acid can fade pigment
Microneedling is NOT advisable for brown spots as it may make this worse. For DIY treatments, sensible AHAs & exfoliation can help. If you are struggling with brown marks, please consult my clinical team @cliniccutis. My nurses & therapists are well versed in the management of brown spots-PIH. We employ nano, pico & fractional lasers to help improve skin texture & scars.
How can you treat red acne marks at home?
Red marks from acne are termed macular erythema, or PIE (post inflammatory erythema). These are notoriously difficult to remove at home without lasers. Sunscreen use will decrease the intensity of redness. Red marks take 6-18 months before fading, vascular lasers are best at removing them (2-4 sessions). Microneedling gives marginal improvements.
View our Treatment Gallery
Can I perform chemical peels at home?
DIY peels in a home environment is like Russian Roulette. I do think that a sensible concentration of TCA from 5-10%, 2 coats is feasible. I do not think that 20-30% TCA is safe. The concentrations I use range from 90-100% TCA. Regardless of advice & sensible suggestions, some people would insist on DIY treatments. Hence I have done a video on YouTube as to how to safely TCA with 8%. Watch this if you are inclined to peel at home. Legally & morally, I can not suggest a higher concentration.
AHA peels including lactic, glycolic, & mandelic acid peels can be done at home with absolute caution. Start with 10-15%, increasing as tolerated. These peels are trickier than peels that don’t require neutralizing.
Which is better; Dermarollers, Dermastamps or Dermapens?
My following suggestions will be based upon ease of use (technical aspects), safety (most importantly) as well as efficacy of treatment. In the context of home use, it is always a compromise.
Dermarollers use a rolling system of needles that range from 256 to 512 super sharp needles. Needle length ranges from 0.1mm all the way to 3 mm. For home use, I suggest 0.1 to 0.2 mm. Max at 0.25 mm. When I perform this procedure to patients, I typically use 0.25 to 0.5 mm. With good traction & countertraction, short needles do the job. The end point is minor pinpoint bleeding. Don’t try super long needles or you may get ‘rip scars’ or linear scarring. Even though I have access to deep Dermrollers, Dermapens/Skinpens, a variety of DermaStamps, & even RF microneedling – nano/microneedles, my usual go to is a shallow depth Dermaroller.
In the context of what I do, I prefer this method over lasers for intradermal delivery of high strength CS to hypertrophic scars. With good technique, rolling is less technical than pens, & is far cheaper.
DermaStamps are a good compromise if you want to go vertically. Preset heights add safety. As you can only stamp and not glide or roll, they are safer for patients who are not technically proficient with needles or rolling.
Derma Pens or Skin Pens: These devices provide vertical needling. Unlike rollers or sampers, pens require a motor. Pen depths are adjustable, typically from 0.1 mm to 2.5-3.2mm. Pens require practice to deliver safe & effective results. This is one device that is dependent on build quality, in this case the motor. Poor technique & or a weak motor means you are at risk of ‘skin tears.’ In the context of at home DIY acne scar revision treatments, I do think that pens can be potentially dangerous.
|Instrument||Ease of use||Costs||Safety||Comments|
|Derma Roller||Moderate easy||Very cheap|
|Up to 0.25 mm|
|My pick due to ease of use|
|Safest||Good for deeper treatment|
($400-$800) for good quality
|Potentially more problems|
|Most technical of all|
What needle depth is safe for at home use?
0.1 to 0.2 mm is adequate for most cases. You can go to 0.25 mm at maximum. As a consultant dermatologist who is used to big surgical procedures, I rarely go past 0.5 mm. Conducted correctly, 0.25 will get the needle into the papillary dermis. Pinpoint areas of bleeding will be apparent. Proper technique with traction & counter traction is paramount.
How often should you carry out treatments at home?
Daily: SPF in the morning, option for vitamin C (ascorbic acid, 5-15%). Retinol or retinoid in the evening.
Weekly: Exfoliation with either physical or chemical AHA-BHA.
Twice a month: Sensible needling with either a Dermroller or stamping to flat surfaces. 0.1 to 0.2 mm is all that you need if conducted properly. 0.25 mm maximal at home for safety.
Why is it important to treat acne as well as manage acne scars?
The biggest mistake I see daily. If you have ongoing acne you will be chasing scars. Additionally your body’s immune system can not direct all their efforts in revision scars when it is fighting off inflammation from ongoing acne.
Try simple DIY acne management strategies at home. If no better, consider seeing a medical dermatologist. My colleagues @cliniccutis can assist.
How should I control my acne?
Prior to seeing a dermatologist (not me, but a medical dermatologist), you may want to try some DIY acne control including;
- Acne diet. Low sugar, low dairy, high protein. Unrefined foods over refined.
- BPO or Benzoyl peroxide washes.
- Salicylic acid washes. Neutrogena makes a good 2% wash.
- Retinoids including retinol or retinoic acid.
- Vitamin B, C
- Tea tree oil- if you must
Please refer to the acne product guide on this website for more information.
Who should I see if my treatments are not working?
If you have acne & or acne scars that are not responding to treatment, consult a skin specialist. For mild to moderate scars, my clinical team can assess your skin scars & provide you with effective & cost effective solutions. They are trained by myself in the use of ablative lasers, TCA CROSS, TCA Paint, as well as RFM, medical microneedling, vascular laser, Fraxel lasers, Fractional laser, Pico Laser & many more devices.
If you have significant objective scars (in the absence of active acne), I would be more than happy to review your case. I do NOT provide any online consults as this method of assessment is not accurate. For some cases of assessment, touch is an important aspect of understanding skin scars. Thank you for your understanding.
What are the costs associated with acne scar revision?
Treatments are more affordable than you think. Simple revision treatments performed by my clinical team, such as vascular lasers, Tixel, simple TCA CROSS & Paint start at $290 USD. Fractional lasers start at $690 for small areas. For a no obligation assessment, book in with my nurses or dermal therapists.
My work is very different from the above as I concentrate on surgical procedures, fillers, grafting & laser work. In the majority of times this carries a Medicare rebate (for the management of severe scars).
What acne scar patients do I see?
My work focuses on severe scar revision, in particular objectively severe scars. I use techniques including surgical subcision, excision, punch grafting, deep peels, ablative lasers, fat transfer & many other surgical procedures to address objective severe scars.
My interest is not subjectively severe but objectively mild scarring. This falls under the realm of BDD or body dysmorphic disorder, a condition best managed in conjunction with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Significant acne scarring is best measured with photography under normal conditions, & assessed by a third party.
For patients with mild to moderate scarring, my clinical team is experienced in the triage & appropriate management of scarring. They perform all the procedures that I do, apart from surgical aspects or revision.
Davin’s Viewpoint- Scar Revision At Home
Understanding the limits of geographical & financial resources, sensible scar revision can be conducted at home. My suggestions on this page is a compromise between safety & efficacy. It is not designed to teach people the skills of scar revision, nor try to give one the skillsets of medical dermatology & pharmacology. To summarise this page-
- Above all, control your acne. If you have scarring time is ticking. The biggest prognostic factor for scars is the time taken to achieve absolute control. It is NOT the time taken to try something out, or see someone, it is the time taken to treat every single pimple, cyst or zit. The biggest mistake I see in the management of acne scars.
- Try topicals including retinol or better still Differin. Use sunscreen to reduce or prevent PIH – red acne marks.
- Dermaroller or stamping with 0.1-0.2 mm to flat areas such as the cheeks. You can go up to 0.25 if needed.
- You are safer using an AHA 10-15 rather than a DIY chemical peel.
- If you have mild scarring consult my clinical team.
- If you have objectively moderate to severe scars, I would be more than happy to assist.
- Please read point number one again. The majority of patients will make this mistake. If you still have significant acne, see a medical dermatologist (not me, I am a procedural dermatologist)
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