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Pimples that leave dark spots: How to remove dark spots caused by pimples: Remedies

How to remove dark spots caused by pimples: Remedies

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the medical term for dark spots caused by pimples, or other types of inflammatory damage, such as burns or eczema.

PIH is common among people of color, with over 65% of African Americans reporting symptoms. It is also more common in Latinx females than Asian, Indian, or white females. The spots tend to be redder in people with pale skin, and brown in people with dark skin.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), although dark spots caused by pimples will clear, it may take months.

The first step is to treat the acne. A person can then focus on preventing further damage and using products, medications, procedures, and supplements to promote healing.

Learn more about dark spots on the skin here.

Share on PinterestDark spots caused by pimples are a common result of acne.

Regular skin care can help people deal with acne and its after-effects. Over-the-counter (OTC) products are available to treat dark spots caused by pimples.

It is particularly important for people of color to find and use appropriate products for their skin.

Learn about treating dark spots on black skin here.

One general tip is to avoid skin care regimens or products that could increase dryness and irritation. People should also use mild cleansers and lotions that will not clog pores. If the skin appears irritated after trying a product, they should discontinue use or consider only applying it every other day.

People can also limit their exposure to the sun and wind to help prevent further damage and promote skin healing. A person can apply sunscreen throughout the year to help reduce PIH.

Although current research is not conclusive, studies have found promising results for:

  • niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3
  • whole soy extract combined with retinol and salicylic acid
  • creams or lotions made with vitamin C, or ascorbic acid
  • natural extracts, including licorice root and mulberry

The AAD recommends that people avoid using skin lighteners that contain mercury due to the risk of kidney damage, nerve damage, and mercury poisoning.

Scientists tested 549 skin lightening products and found that 12% contained mercury. To avoid products that may cause harm, people should get a doctor’s recommendation before purchasing any of these items.

Medical treatments for dark spots caused by pimples include:

  • Retinoids: These medications are a common acne treatment. They typically come in topical form, which means a person applies it to the skin. Along with benzoyl peroxide, retinoid can bleach towels and sheets but will not lighten skin. A person should start with a product that contains a 0.025% concentration to check it does not irritate. Doctors typically prescribe tretinoin in 0.025% and 0.05% forms.
  • Hydroquinone: Studies show it reduces the size, color, and severity of dark spots.
  • Glycolic acid peel: Research suggests that adding regular acid peels to hydroquinone treatments significantly improves results.

Other treatment options include:

  • corticosteroids
  • chemical peels
  • laser treatment
  • intense pulsed light therapy

A person should speak with their doctor or dermatologist to discuss available options.

Learn more about treating acne scars here.

Dark spots caused by pimples may occur where the skin is thin and delicate, such as the face and neck. Treatment will usually be the same for most areas of the body and face.

Acne can develop anywhere on the body, but pimples are most likely to occur in places where there are many sebaceous glands that produce skin and hair oil. This includes the following areas:

  • back
  • shoulders
  • chest
  • neck
  • face

When acne develops in hard to reach places, it can complicate the treatment process.

If dark spots only occur on the forehead or temples, hair products may be causing the acne. A person can switch hair care products, or use them only on hair ends, to prevent further breakouts and additional skin damage.

Treating and controlling acne is the best way to prevent dark spots from pimples.

Learn about acne treatment here.

Exposure to sunlight can cause spots to darken, so people can use broad-spectrum sunscreen when outside to prevent additional discoloration.

Some authorities state that early and vigorous treatment of potential dark spots can keep them from fully developing. However, it is important not to irritate the skin and make the problem worse.

Experts say dark spots on the upper layers of the skin, or epidermal PIH, may last for 6–12 months. However, it can take years for deeper, or dermal, spots to go away.

People should maintain their skin care and treatment routines to accelerate the healing process.

Individuals with severe acne outbreaks may benefit from seeing a dermatologist. They can help a person find the most effective treatment and lower the chances of developing dark spots.

Although most people with dark spots see improvement without medical treatment, sometimes additional support is necessary. People may choose to see a dermatologist if dark spots interfere with their personal, social, or professional lives.

Dark spots from pimples are a common result of acne. Although they tend to resolve on their own, the process can take several months.

Different treatment options, such as natural remedies, OTC products, and prescription medications, can speed up healing.

How to Remove Dark Spots Caused by Acne: Treatments and Remedies

Whenever you get a pimple, you probably want it to heal quickly. But sometimes, acne blemishes leave a dark mark on your skin even after the pimple is gone. This is frustrating, but not uncommon.

Getting rid of these dark spots on your skin starts with understanding what causes them in the first place.

When a pimple pops up on your skin, it’s technically a form of inflammation. And as your skin heals and new skin cells form, it’s possible that the cells sent to help restore your skin’s smooth surface contain too much melanin.

Melanin is what gives your skin its color, and when certain cells have more melanin than others, the result is a darker patch of skin. This is referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Anything that makes your skin inflammation last longer, like picking or squeezing a blemish, can increase your chances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

People who have naturally darker skin tones are more prone to this condition. Keep reading to find out more about how to treat those post-pimple dark spots and how to avoid them in the future.

Treating dark spots from acne is different than treating acne scars. Scars require tissue to be damaged or overgrown. Scars are difficult to fully remove, and while they may fade over time, they usually remain visible.

Dark spots from acne, on the other hand, are flat against the surface of your skin. They don’t indicate any long-term damage to your skin cells, pores, or follicles.

It can take a while, but dark spots tend to become lighter over time, and eventually go away completely. It can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years for them to vanish from view.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait forever in hopes that your dark spots will fade. There are plenty of home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) products, and even dermatology treatments you can try to get rid of them more quickly.

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If you’d like to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, you can start with home remedies. Unfortunately, many of these home remedies have only anecdotal evidence to back them up. For the most part, there’s little harm in giving them a try.

Vitamin C

Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which can brighten skin and even skin tone. Vitamin C has been shown to be an effective depigmenting agent that decreases melanin formation.

Aloe vera

If you look online, you’ll find many fans of using aloe vera to heal dark spots from acne. It’s true that aloe is an exceptional healing agent, especially when it comes to your skin.

An animal study found that consistent use of aloe could stabilize melanin levels in cells, but more research is needed to know the limits of this effect.

Grapeseed extract

Grapeseed extract is another natural product that may work to help lighten dark spots.

There aren’t any studies on the topical use of grapeseed extract for this purpose. But there is a study that shows that 6 months of grapeseed extract taken orally was beneficial for people who have the skin condition melasma, which is similar to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Sun protection

According to research, treatment of any dark spots should start with a vigilant sun-protection routine. Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 each day, regardless of if the day is overcast or humid, will help prevent more damage to your skin.

There are also plenty of OTC treatments for dark spots that you can try if home remedies aren’t helping. Active ingredients for these types of products vary widely, but some have been shown to be more effective than others.

These ingredients stop the synthesis of melanin in dark spots while peeling off old skin and encouraging new growth. But some products carry a risk of removing too much pigment from your skin, resulting in hypopigmentation.

Speak to your dermatologist before trying OTC products to get rid of dark spots caused by acne.

Once you’ve received your doctor’s OK, look for products that contain some mix of the following ingredients:

  • retinoids (vitamin A)
  • vitamin E (tocopherol)
  • alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), such as mandelic acid
  • kojic acid
  • azelaic acid

As a next step up from OTC treatments, you may want to look into treatments you can only get in a dermatologist’s office. Treatments for dark spots aren’t typically covered by health insurance, as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation doesn’t pose a danger to your health.

Keep in mind as you consider this treatment that most, if not all, of the costs will come out of your own pocket.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are done to remove damaged skin cells and reveal younger-looking skin underneath. The cost can vary, but expect to pay in the range of $600 or more out of pocket.

Chemical peels involve applying a strong solution of different topical acids to your face. The peel is then removed, taking layers of skin cells along with it.


Microdermabrasion typically costs around $150. It uses a device that blasts tiny particles at certain areas of your skin, or a diamond-tipped device is rubbed over your skin.

Microdermabrasion is a next-level exfoliating treatment that aims to buff away imperfections and leave your skin looking smooth and evenly toned.

It’s often used to target dark spots, including ones caused by acne. This treatment is considered lower risk and minimally invasive.

Laser resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing uses different types of lasers to remove dead skin from your body while encouraging new cells to grow in the deeper layers of your skin. Lasers can be a way to break up scar tissue and correct dark spots caused by acne.

The cost of this treatment varies according to the type of lasers that are used and how many rounds of treatment you need. Expect it to cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per treatment.

Be careful when using certain products that claim to treat dark spots caused by acne.

For one thing, some of these products contain powerful retinol ingredients. These ingredients work by thinning out layers of your skin. While that may result in skin that feels more smooth and looks more evenly toned, that leaves you more vulnerable to damage caused by sun exposure.

Be sure to apply sunscreen every day as part of your beauty routine.

Also, remember that not every cosmetic product is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Be particularly careful of products that are bought internationally or sold online.

Some cosmetics contain ingredients like mercury, even though these ingredients won’t be disclosed on the label. Use your discretion, and only shop from vendors you trust.

If you find that you’re developing dark spots frequently, or if the appearance of these dark spots is affecting your day-to-day life, it’s time to speak to your healthcare provider.

If you’re concerned about your dark spots and don’t already have a dermatologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

Creating a treatment plan with your dermatologist can give you a realistic perspective of dark spots caused by pimples. Having a plan and a professional to call on can make all the difference.

As a pimple heals, your body sometimes produces cells with too much melanin in them to replace the damaged skin. This results in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which we sometimes just call a dark spot.

There are home remedies, OTC options, and even some dermatologist treatments designed to make these dark spots fade faster. Speak to your doctor if you’re at all concerned about dark spots from acne on your skin.

3 rules how to remove pigment spots from acne

Dark red or brown pigment spots after acne are called post-acne and are a complication of acne, when a consequence remains in the place of the former rash in the form of congestive cyanotic or pigment spots, or cicatricial changes. Read below.


  • Why acne spots appear

  • How to remove age spots after acne

  • 3 rules how to get rid of age spots after acne

  • How to quickly remove age spots after acne

  • How to avoid pigmentation after acne breakouts

Why acne spots appear

After the inflammation has passed, there is not a trace left on the skin of some, and a kind of mark remains for someone. What is the tendency to post-acne appearance connected with:

1. Launched inflammatory process.

For severe acne lasting more than 15 days. A neglected rash is a long-term inflammation of the skin, often due to the lack of adequate treatment. That is why it is so important to start acne therapy as early as possible and eliminate the inflammatory process. The longer the rash is present on the skin and the deeper the inflammation, the higher the likelihood of post-inflammatory pigmentation.

2. The pernicious habit of “squeezing pimples” with non-compliance with antiseptic standards.

Infection of the skin during cleaning provokes a new inflammatory process and increases the risk of pigmentation.

3. Injury of the comedone extraction procedure

For example, using nails, without using a special spatula, which leads to skin damage at the dermis level with collagen damage and subsequent inflammation and scarring.

4. Non-compliance with the cleaning technique, a breakthrough of a purulent element inside the skin.

The breakthrough of an abscess into the dermis and subcutaneous fat threatens with a number of complications: a long course of inflammation, the complexity of therapy, the appearance of scars and age spots after healing. It is necessary to exclude self-squeezing of acne and contact qualified dermatologists and cosmetologists.


Free online consultations are available from leading cosmetologists of the Russian representative office of DermaQuest / Circadia.

This list is important both in the process of getting rid of pigmentation and as a warning to those who suffer from rashes. This is a reminder of the need for timely and competent acne and post-acne treatment.

How to remove age spots after acne

To get rid of age spots after acne, you need to understand the causes of their occurrence and what disorders in the skin.

1. P post-inflammatory pigmentation – post-acne pigment spots appeared against the background of a long-term chronic inflammatory process.

Most common cause. Inflammation needs to be controlled, ie. the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. This is important if the process is still active and new elements of the rash appear.

2. Violation of microcirculation

Microcirculation is disturbed against the background of post-inflammatory processes, i. the processes of cellular renewal, the supply of nutrients and oxygen necessary for their normal functioning.

3 rules on how to get rid of age spots after acne

The process of post-acne correction is no less time-consuming and requires the same systematic approach as in the treatment of acne. The tasks of post-acne therapy are not only lightening spots, they include:

  • Block the formation of new inflammatory elements. It is necessary to stop the inflammatory process in order to avoid the appearance of new spots;
  • Accelerate the maturation of and the resolution of existing inflammations;
  • Provide oxygen access to the hair follicle – eliminate blockage of pores (acne pathogen dies from oxygen)
  • Brightening post-acne spots and stimulating collagen regeneration.

All these problems must be taken into account when choosing a therapy.

It is important to follow 3 skin care rules:

1. Effective professional home care products

When removing post-acne pigmentation, not just brightening preparations are needed, but the 2nd action: anti-inflammatory and whitening.

Here are the main substances proven to have these functions:

  • Retinoids
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Azelaic acid

IMPORTANT! In accordance with the recommendations of the International Alliance of Dermatovenereologists and Cosmetologists: to increase the effectiveness of the fight against post-acne, combine the use of 2 ingredients from the recommended list. That is, retinoids + benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid + benzoyl peroxide.

An example of a ready-made regimen for getting rid of age spots after acne, developed by DermaQuest:

  • DermaClia Local Serum with Benzoyl Peroxide 10% is applied locally to rashes 1-2 times a day.
  • Serum “DermaKlia” for problem skin for the whole face 2 times a day
  • Retinaldehyde Renewal Cream is a new form of retinol without the slightest irritant effect.
  • DermaKlia Enzyme Cleanser for problem skin used for washing twice a day (contains Mandelic Acid 2%)
An example of a ready-made scheme for getting rid of age spots after acne, developed by Circadia:
  • Circadia Night Revitalizing Cream with Retinol 0.3% – daily in the evening for the whole face.
  • Circadia Problematic Skin Night Cream with Benzoyl Peroxide 5% 1st week – every day in the evening locally on inflammatory rashes, from the 2nd week – the cream is applied every other day.
  • Morning & Evening Serum Moisturizing Vitamin C
  • Honey cleanser morning and evening – micro-scrub with abrasive beeswax granules that absorb excess sebum.

2. Daily sunscreen with SPF 30 ( SPF30)

Even in winter, even on cloudy days, even if no long walk is planned.

Modern products contain additional protection against blue light – blue light filters that protect the skin from computer / tablet radiation and fluorescent lamps.

An indispensable condition for the successful fight against age spots of any origin.

3. Professional peeling

To increase the effectiveness and speed of getting rid of post-acne spots, it is necessary to regularly carry out a professional brightening peel. The selection of a suitable one is carried out by a cosmetologist.

* For more information about lightening post-acne pigment spots with peeling, read the article “ What is the best peeling to remove post-acne here .

Basic requirements for brightening peel:

  • Exfoliate
  • Brightening action (works on the regulation of melanogenesis)

The selection of peeling for lightening age spots is made depending on the cause of the appearance and intensity of the process:

Stagnant spots (red, long-lasting lumps on the skin) – peelings that activate blood circulation and promote their resorption:

Powerful DermaQuest pumpkin peeling

Actively improves microcirculation and lymphatic drainage, increases the immune function of the skin and has a resolving effect in the application to stagnant post-acne pigment spots. Additionally, Pumpkin peeling contains natural Vitamin A from pumpkin pulp – it accelerates the removal of pigmented cells from the skin surface.

Post-Acne Pigmentation – whitening treatments in combination with brightening preparations in home care:

DermaQuest MangoBright Peeling

Atraumatic peeling with brightening effect. Brightens and moisturizes the skin with mango pulp, a combination of acids and Vitamin C. Anti-aging effect – contains sweet orange stem cells.

DermaQuest SkinBright Peeling

Superficial median peeling with whitening action. Provokes active controlled peeling. Eliminates all types of pigmentation, including deep and long-standing – old post-acne spots . Effectively evens out the skin relief, smoothes cicatricial changes.

Competent schemes for professional and home care can only be drawn up by a professional cosmetologist. Need a cosmetic consultation?

How to quickly remove age spots after acne

The use of Microroller during home care or a professional procedure (atraumatic peeling) increases the effectiveness of therapy by 85%!

*The DermaQuest Microroller is a medical instrument with small needles made from a specialized medical grade alloy.

How the Microroller works

  • When pierced, biologically active substances are released in the skin, cell renewal is activated;
  • Restores microcirculation and delivery of biologically active substances;
  • Pigment-producing cells come to rest and the amount of melanin normalizes;
  • Increases collagen synthesis;
  • The result is a normal complexion and improved skin texture, smoothing scars and dents.

Benefits of the DermaQuest Micro Roller:

  • Medical grade needles and proper sharpening of the needles – no pain, redness or blood droplets
  • Device used up to 10 times
  • All needles are firmly attached and stay sharp for a long time
  • Used in the phase of the absence of an acute inflammatory process. 1-2 pimples are acceptable.

Proven increase in the effectiveness of topical therapy by 85%!

How to avoid pigmentation after acne breakouts

  • “Squeezing pimples” by yourself – completely eliminate
  • Professional skin cleaning by a beautician
  • Therapeutic home care, focused on inflammation (retinoids, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide)
  • Mineral SPF30 – apply daily in the morning
  • Home peels – regular skin exfoliation (once a week)

By following these recommendations, the risk of post-acne is significantly reduced!

evens out the tone and reduces the number of breakouts.

The texture is light, does not clog pores, absorbs quickly. Mattifies the skin for a long time, but does not dry.


Regina Kalimullina

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Inflammations have become much less, and if they occur, they disappear faster than usual and there are no pigment spots left after.


Lera Serbina

I used to use it all the time, but after the release of the serum I switched. The lotion is great, light and fragrance free. Suitable for my sensitive skin.


Regina Garayeva

Hello. How is it different from Normaderm cream?


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What probiotics are in this product? Can people with lactose intolerance use it?


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Hello, I bought this product because I really liked the sampler. The problem is that I do not have a cream, but a watery structure, although there was a cream in the sampler. What could it be?


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I have been using this product for 2 months, I am very pleased with the result, inflammation and oily sheen have noticeably decreased.


Irina Skvortsova

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Hello! Can you please tell me if it is possible to use the fluid together with Vichy Aqualia Thermal Light cream?



Good afternoon! Can I use Normaderm Phytosolution
Facial fluid if the skin is oily, but dehydrated (as a result of aggressive cleansing)? Will salicylic acid aggravate my skin?


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