12 Home Remedies To Lighten Acne Scars | Types And Causes

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
By Shaheen Naser

Acne affects an estimated 90% of adolescents (1). Severely inflamed acne can leave behind scars. Acne scars cause a lot of psychological distress, especially in adolescents (1). But it is important to remember that scar formation is normal.

In this article, we will be talking about some home remedies that may help lighten the appearance of acne scars and pimple marks. These remedies may not work on all skin types. Hence, consult a skincare expert before exploring these options.

Acne Scars Vs. Pimple Marks

Acne scars are usually pitted and almost never heal completely. Pimple marks are tiny, flat, and dark spots caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can fade in a few weeks on their own. Picking or popping a pimple can increase the chances of pimple marks. However, they don’t cause long-term damage to your skin. On the other hand, acne scars take a considerably longer time to heal and are difficult to remove completely.

Note: Some acne scars are caused by inflammation and require medical treatment. They cannot be treated with home remedies. Consult a dermatologist to find out if this is the case with your acne scars.

Home Remedies That May Help Lighten Acne Scars And Pimple Marks

1. Orange Peel Powder

A study was conducted in Japan to study the effect of orange peel extracts on melanogenesis, a complex process that involves the formation of melanin. It was found that the extract could help suppress melanogenesis. Hence, orange peel may help eliminate acne spots and blemishes (2).

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon orange peel powder
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix both the honey and orange peel powder to make a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the areas with acne and pimple scars.
  3. Wash it off after it dries.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 3-4 times a week.

2. Coconut Oil

A research conducted to study the potential benefits of plant oils on skin shows that coconut oil possesses antibacterial properties that may help reduce acne (3)

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (VCO) 
What You Have To Do
  1. Warm the virgin coconut oil by rubbing it between your palms.
  2. Dab it on the acne scars and leave it on until the next morning.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this every night before going to bed.

Note: Do not try this remedy if you have oily skin as coconut oil may clog pores and worsen acne.

 3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil possesses can reduce acne lesions and scaling (4). Their antimicrobial properties can help reduce the occurrence of pimples. However, there is no evidence to prove that it lightens acne scars and pimple marks. As topical tea tree oil is considered safe for most people, you can try out this remedy.

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • A carrier oil (sweet almond oil or jojoba oil)
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil of your choice.
  2. Apply this mixture to the scars.
  3. Leave it on for an hour before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat once daily until the scars vanish.

Note: Do a patch test before trying this remedy as tea tree oil may cause skin irritation. 

4. Aloe Vera Gel

A mixture of aloe vera, tea tree oil, and propolis has also been found to reduce acne scars and pimple marks (5).

Aloe vera can reduce acne scars by reducing hyperpigmentation and acting as an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory agent (6), (7)

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
What You Have To Do
  1. Extract a tablespoon of gel from aloe vera leaves.
  2. Apply it to the scars and blemishes.
  3. Leave it on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this every night before going to bed.

5. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains vitamin C that exhibits antipigmentary properties (8). Thus, it may fade acne scars, blemishes and pimple marks over time.

You Will Need

  • ½ lemon
  • Cotton pad
What You Have To Do
  1. Squeeze out the juice of half a lemon and dab a cotton pad into the juice.
  2. Apply it to the affected areas.
  3. Rinse it off thoroughly after 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 3-4 times a week.

Note: If you have sensitive skin, do not try this remedy as it may cause redness and irritation. Do a patch test before the remedy, and make sure you apply sunscreen afterward as lemon juice can make your skin photosensitive.

6. Green Tea

Green tea contains polyphenols, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in the prevention and treatment of acne (9). Green tea also helps reduce scars and pimple marks with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (10)

You Will Need
  • 1 green tea bag
  • Honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Make a face pack by mixing moist green tea leaves with honey.
  2. Apply the pack all over yourface and leave it on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse it off thoroughly with plain water. 
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1-2 times a week.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the oldest and most commonly used spices for skin remedies. Studies show that topical application of turmeric showed improvement in skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and alopecia (11). It also contains curcumin, which is an effective skin-lightening agent (12). Thus, it may fade acne scars and pimple marks. However, current studies are limited and further research is essential for a better understanding of how it may help reduce acne scars and pimple marks.

You Will Need
  • A teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 lemon
What You Have To Do
  1. Squeeze out the lemon juice in a bowl and mix it with turmeric powder.
  2. Gently apply this mixture to your face and other affected areas.
  3. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this once every alternate day.

Note: If you have sensitive skin, do not try this remedy as it may cause redness and irritation. Do a patch test before the remedy, and make sure you apply sunscreen afterward.

8. Potato Juice

A study published in the Journal Of Medicinal Plants Studies states that the potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, and chloride found in potato are useful for treating acne blemishes and pimple spots (13). Potato also contains azelaic acid that may reduce hyperpigmentation caused by mild to moderate acne and breakouts (13), (14).

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons potato juice
What You Have To Do
  1. Crush a raw potato to extract its juice.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with this juice and apply it to the areas with acne scars.
  3. Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You can apply this juice 2-3 times a week.

9. Cocoa

Cocoa butter is rich in polyphenols and essential minerals that make it highly suitable for the treatment of skin problems. It exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can reduce acne and promote the repair of skin tissues (15). This may help in lightening acne scars.

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa butter
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a tablespoon of cocoa butter and warm it by rubbing it between your palms.
  2. Apply it to the scars and leave it on overnight.
  3. Wash it off with a mild cleanser the next morning.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this daily until the scars disappear.

Note: Avoid this remedy if you have oily skin.

10. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is found in many acne cosmeceuticals (16). It contains salicylic acid, which might help reduce the number of acne spots (17).

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon witch hazel bark
  • 1 cup water
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak the witch hazel bark in water for 30 minutes
  2. Boil the mixture.
  3. Reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool down for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Strain and store the liquid in a container.
  6. Apply the liquid to the affected areas using a cotton pad.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this daily until the scars disappear.

11. Baking Soda

Baking soda is known for its ability to kill bacteria (18). This might help control acne occurrence. However, there are no scientific studies to verify its efficacy. There is only anecdotal evidence and testimonials that speak about the effect of baking soda in clearing acne scars and pimple marks.

Some studies also emphasize the harmful effects of baking soda. Hence, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before trying it on your skin.

You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Water 
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix thebaking soda in water until you have a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the scars and leave it on for 20 minutes.
  3. Wash it off thoroughly with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times a week. 

Note: Baking soda can dry out the skin, so apply a hydrating moisturizer immediately after using this remedy.

12. Vitamin Supplements

Taking vitamin supplements may help reduce acne scars and pimple marks.

Vitamin A can help treat acne, though its direct effect on acne scars has not been studied (19). Although vitamin E is a popular treatment for scars, blemishes and wounds, no studies have been able to prove its efficacy (20). Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and its topical application is suitable for treating acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (21).

You can also consume foods rich in vitamins, like green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, fish, carrots, and avocados.

Note: Do not take these supplements without consulting your doctor.

These were a few natural tips and tricks to lighten acne and pimple scars. Let us now understand how you can prevent the recurrence of these scars.

Preventive Tips For Acne And Pimple Scars

Acne and pimples occur fairly frequently, but you can always make sure that they don’t leave scars on your face. Some tips that may help you prevent scars include:

  • Wash your face with a non-comedogenic face wash twice daily.
  • Always remove makeup from your face before going to bed.
  • Do not pick on acne or pop your pimples.
  • Apply sunscreen before stepping out in the sun.
  • Follow a balanced diet and avoid foods that can cause breakouts.

What Causes Acne Scars?

Acne can be classified into two subtypes – non-inflammatory and inflammatory.

Whiteheads and blackheads usually fall under the non-inflammatory subtype. Papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts are the inflammatory types of acne.

Among these types, it is inflammatory acne that tends to leave behind scars and marks.

Inflamed acne blemishes occur when your pores become engorged as a result of excess oil, dead cells, and bacteria clogging them. This leads to the swelling of the pores, which causes the follicle walls to expand and break.

If this rupture occurs close to the surface of your skin, the resulting acne lesion is usually minor and heals quickly. However, if the break in the follicle is deep, the lesion will be more severe, and the infected material may leak out into the dermis (the second layer of skin) and destroy healthy skin tissues.

Acne scars are further divided into different types.

Types Of Acne Scars

The most common types of acne scars are:

  • Ice-Pick Scars: Narrow, deep, and pitted scars
  • Rolling Scars: Broad, depressed scars with slanting edges
  • Boxcar Scars: Broad scars with sharp edges
  • Atrophic Scars: Flat, thin, and depressed scars
  • Hypertrophic Scars: Lumpy and thick scars

Regardless of the type of acne scars, the remedies shared above may help control and reduce the appearance of acne. However, in some cases, you may require more long-term treatment as the acne might be a sign of other underlying conditions. In such cases, you must consult your dermatologist immediately.

How Do Dermatologists Treat Acne Scars?

Although many recipes and ingredients are recommended to treat acne scars, not all of them have proven to work. To overcome this situation, visit a dermatologist. Here are some common dermatological treatment options that your doctor might suggest. Note that these procedures are carried out under medical supervision, so self-medication is strictly prohibited.

  1. Dermabrasion/Microdermabrasion: Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are facial resurfacing techniques that mechanically remove damaged skin to promote wound healing. Dermabrasion removes the epidermis completely and remodels the skin’s structural proteins. Microdermabrasion only removes the outer layer of the epidermis, enhancing the natural process of exfoliation. Both treatments are effective in treating acne scars (1).
  2. Laser Treatment: Laser treatment is recommended for patients with deep scars (box-car scars). Although there is improvement noticed in this treatment, there are quite a few risk factors and criteria involved in this procedure (1).
  3. Needling: Skin needling involves using a sterile roller made of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin. The bruises thus created on the skin boost the production of collagen and elastin fibers. Results are generally seen about 6 weeks to 3 months from the procedure (1).
  4. Chemical Peels:Chemical peeling involves applying chemicals to the skin to remove the damaged outer layers to speed up the skin repair process. The hydroxy acids used in this process include glycolic acid, pyruvic acid, salicylic acid, and trichloroacetic acid (1).

Excess oil and dead skin clog your pores, resulting in the development of acne in the deeper layers of the skin. This may result in acne scars such as icepick scars or rolling scars. Aloe vera, turmeric, baking soda, or lemon juice are some of the ingredients that may reduce the appearance of your acne scars over time. Along with that, practicing proper skincare hygiene and consuming a balanced diet may prevent acne scars in the long run. However, acne may sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition and requires long-term treatment under the guidance of a doctor. Consult a doctor if the above home remedies do not reduce your acne.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do acne scars take to fade?

Acne scars may take 6 months to fade on their own without the help of any treatments.

Do acne holes go away?

Not all types of acne disappear completely. Some need regular medical treatments along with home remedies to see desired results.


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Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology,... more

Dr. Vindhya L Veerula

Dr. Veerula (Dr. V) is a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, a Fellow of the American Academy of... more