Natural and over-the-counter remedies to start fading your dark acne spots
Acne as a skin disorder can be an eyesore and the marks and scars it can leave behind can be signs of skin damage and cause premature skin aging. In the US alone, there are 50 million Americans who suffer from acne yearly. 85% of the acne sufferers are between the age of 12 and 24.
Acne begins when the sebaceous gland or the oil-secreting gland of the body produces oil and opens up the pores and tiny hair in the hair follicles try to come out. This process can be interfered by dirt, dead skin or bacteria that end up clogging the pores.
The pores are clogged, it forms tiny plugs that can either be exposed or covered. Exposed plugs darken due to the oxidation of melanin and become Blackheads, the unexposed ones remain to be white-colored plugs and are called Whiteheads. These are classified as non-inflammatory acne.
There are also four types of inflammatory acne which usually ends up with dark spots, acne marks and acne scars without proper care, these are:
Papules is the type of acne that is reddish, inflamed and protruding. This is the usual pimple that we first notice.
Pustules look like papules although it can be slightly bigger, more inflamed and filled with pus. If this type of acne erupts, it can leave a crater-like wound and can be exposed to infection.
Nodules this acne is a type that grows beneath the upper layer of the skin and inflammation and redness might not be visible but it can be painful to touch like a boil.
Cysts are similar to nodules but with multiple inflamed hair follicles under the skin. This is a severe acne type that usually requires surgery to be extracted and avoid infection.
All inflammatory acne types should be treated with utmost care and if possible, with the help of a professional. It is best to spot treat and let the inflammation subside of these types to avoid dark acne marks and scars.
What are acne spots?
When acne goes away, some dark spots stay. When acne inflammation is gone, there are red or dark spots where acne used to be, and some of these marks stay for a long time. These are called hyperpigmentation. When there is acne inflammation, the skin surround the pimple turns red. The skin reacts to the inflammation and can lead to additional melanin production and that makes that area dark even if the acne has healed completely. It can be embarrassing to have acne marks as it makes the skin look stained and untidy and hyperpigmentation, just like acne, can emotional side effects to a person who has it.
Hyperpigmentation can affect any skin type and skin color and there are various reasons that might be causing it according to studies:
- Sun exposure
Although there are still on-going studies about the effects of sun exposure to hyperpigmentation and nothing is conclusive at the moment, it is best to avoid sun exposure during acne inflammation and healing.
Too much UV is harmful to the skin and can cause sun damage. That alone is enough reason to consider and let the skin recover from the damage caused by acne. If sun exposure is inevitable, wearing sunscreen with frequent re-application if necessary is highly recommended.
- Skin damage
Most acne will go away on its own unless it is a nodule or cyst. Frequent touching of the inflamed or healing acne can get in the way of the skin’s recovery. Some acne can be itchy as it heals but preventing yourself from touching it can do you good.
Pricking and picking on acne can also infect acne further and can prolong skin’s recovery or damage the skin and leave acne scars.
- Hormonal changes
Having acne during the monthly period, pregnancy and menopause can take a longer time to heal and can leave darker marks due to hormonal changes that can greatly affect the skin.
- Improper use of skincare products
Having acne can be frustrating and for some people, the search for the best acne care product is endless.
Using the wrong skincare products can irritate and aggravate your acne, if you are unsure, do not use over the counter remedies that advertisements make like it works for everyone. Always consult a dermatologist before trying something new especially if you have oily or sensitive skin.
How to get rid of acne spots:
Bad news, you have dark acne spots. Good news, these are not permanent. You just need to know the right way to take care of it with these natural and chemical remedies:
DIY Natural Solutions
Papaya is a common ingredient in herbal whitening soaps and it can extend its whitening power to acne hyperpigmentation. Likewise, for scar inflammation, it can soften the skin and promote faster healing.
You can either use raw or ripe papaya, but raw papaya has more papain which can help soften the damaged skin while ripe papaya can assist more in skin lightening. Simply mash and use as a mask for 30 minutes.
Skin dryness can lead to further skin damage. The natural moisturization and antibacterial properties of honey can soothe acne inflammation and help avoid hyperpigmentation after. Use as a mask for 30 minutes and wash off with warm water.
Lycopene in tomato is proven to make the skin look brighter and more radiant. It can refresh the skin and shrink pores too. Use tomato juice as toner or mashes tomato as a mask.
Lemon is packed with all-natural vitamin c and has mild exfoliating properties. It can brighten the skin and make the spots appear lighter over time.
You can squeeze lemon juice and apply directly on your face or you may want to tame its acidity by mixing it with yogurt. People with darker skin should refrain from using lemon as its acidity can react make the skin produce more melanin leading to worse darkening.
- Vitamin C
Just like the fruit-derived Vitamin C, Vitamin C serum can brighten and illuminate the skin, even out skin tone and fade acne marks and spots but faster as it is more concentrated. Most Vitamin C serums are formulated and designed for all skin types and are easier to use than extracting fruit acids.
If you are using Vitamin C serums, make sure to use sunscreen during the daytime. Better yet, use it only at bedtime.
- Azelaic Acid
This treatment is available over the counter and is commonly prescribed for rosacea and acne. This is a plant-derived compound and can be found in wheat, rye and barley and this is suitable for people with hyperpigmentation with dark skin tones. It is also safe for use during pregnancy. This treatment is versatile as it can be combined with other treatments like hydroquinone. It is not advisable for people with eczema to use azelaic acid as in can aggravate flaking and dryness.
- Glycolic Acid Peels (Alpha-hydroxy acids)
Glycolic acid belongs to alpha-hydroxy acids or AHA which is known to exfoliate the top layers of the skin to remove the damaged part like dark acne spots. It is available in different concentration and it is advisable to use ones in lower concentration as it can irritate the skin.
This is the most used skin brightening agent in the US. This is probably because it works better with a lighter complexion. It inhibits tyrosinase which is the enzyme needed to produce melanin.
Hydroquinone, however, does not work well with darker skin tones and can even cause a darker discoloration. It is advisable to use extra strength sunscreen when you used this.
- Kojic Acid
This is used as the milder alternative to Hydroquinone and since Hydroquinone is banned in Japan, among other countries, Kojic Acid is believed to have originated there. It is an acid that can be found in Japanese rice wine and soy. This too inhibits tyrosinase to lighten freckles, melasma and dark acne spots.
There is no one perfect way to get rid of acne and no single proven way to speed up healing without leaving spots and marks.
There are also factors in our body and in the environment that can contribute to the further damage and post-acne hyperpigmentation, like sun exposure, skin damage due to irritation, misuse of products and hormones. Some of these factors are preventable and a conscious effort to stay away from possible causes to aggravate the skin damage brought by acne inflammation.
Always consider trying out natural remedies for dark spots as well especially if you have sensitive skin. In the event that you are suffering acne spots for quite some time, do not fret because there are over-the-counter solutions that you can try but be mindful of the possible reactions of these topical remedies depending on your skin type.
The skin is our first line of defense against heat, cold, pollution, bacteria and viruses and we owe to protect it from any possible damage. If you are not confident to try any of these solutions, consulting your dermatologist is the best first step forward to better and clearer skin.