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Common Ways To Treat Acne Scars

Acne vulgaris is one of the most common dermatologic concerns, and a frequent complaint of patients presenting in general practice. Some patients have mild disease, while others are affected by a prolonged case that is complicated by scarring. There are many ways to treat acne scars, and options vary greatly depending on the severity of the lesions.

A recent review in Prime Journal sought to determine the most common therapies utilised today in the treatment and management of acne scarring.

Chemical peels

Different chemical solutions are applied to the skin to destroy the epidermis. Such chemicals include:

  • Salicylic acid – generally used to treat active acne and dyspigmentation
  • Pyruvic acid – used as a medium depth peel to treat acne scars
  • Glycolic acid – a medium to deep peel with exfoliative properties that cause desquamation and epidermolysis
  • Trichloroacetic acid – highly efficacious for the treatment of acne scarring
  • Jessner’s solution – a combination of salicylic acid, resorcinol, lactic acid and 95 percent ethanol, effective to treat acne scars at the superficial level
  • Phenol – a deep peel used in the treatment of atrophic acne scars

Laser treatment
Laser is an effective and easy treatment for acne scarring that is usually used in conjunction with other treatment modalities.

Dermal fillers are effective for treating atrophic acne scars. Fillers are typically injected directly under the scar into the superficial and mid dermis. The most common types of fillers are polymethylmethacrylate and hyaluronic acid.

Other therapies

The review found that other therapies commonly used include:

  • Subcision – an instrument is passed within the dermis to break up the fibrotic strands under acne scars
  • Radiofrequency – electromagnetic radiation is used to inflict deep dermal thermal injury, which induces a wound healing process that stimulates dermal collagen remodelling
  • Microneedling – multiple fine needles are rolled across the skin, creating pinpoint punctures that release growth factors promoting dermal collagen and elastin production.
  • Platelet rich plasma – an autologous concentrated plasma solution (obtained from centrifuging down the patient’s own blood) is injected into the skin to release growth factors that accelerate soft tissue regeneration.

The review concluded that a combination of therapeutic options can be tailored to each patient’s individual concerns, while being mindful of downtime and budget.

Click here to learn more about the management of acne in primary care.


Council, M. & Gupta, R. (2017.) What’s new in the management of acne and acne scarring. Prime Journal. Volume 7, issue 5.

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