Dark spots on the face, chest, or back? They could be reminders of old pimples that have healed. Dark spots are frustrating to deal with—they can stick around for months. But harsh procedures are not the only way to eliminate dark spots caused by pimples. You can help them along by using simple remedies and targeted at-home care.
When pimples cause dark spots
A pimple signals that your skin is inflamed. Once the skin starts healing, other cells jump into action to restore your smooth complexion. Sometimes, these cells contain too much melanin—a substance that gives the skin its colour. When this happens, you may end up with a darker patch of skin where the pimple used to be. Also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dark spots are more common among people with darker skin tones.
You should note that dark spots differ from acne scars. Scars form when the skin tissue gets damaged or there is an overgrowth of skin cells. This is why scars are difficult to remove. Dark spots, on the other hand, lie flat on the skin, and there is no long-term damage to the underlying skin cells or pores. Left to themselves, dark spots may disappear within a few months to a couple of years. However, while scars get lighter and lighter over time, they can stay visible for many years.
Treating dark spots at home
Are dark spots keeping you from a clear and radiant complexion? A tailored home treatment plan will speed up their exit from the surface of your skin.
Home remedies from the kitchen
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera gel soothes pimple-prone skin and helps heal dark spots. You could also apply it when a pimple bursts to prevent future scars and spots.
- Lemon juice: Thanks to its high Vitamin C content, lemon juice brightens the skin. It reduces pigmentation and evens out the skin tone.
- Buttermilk: Rich in lactic acid, buttermilk clears away dead skin cells and fades dark spots. It leaves the skin looking and feeling healthy.
- Papaya: The alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in papaya eliminate dead skin and increase collagen production. This helps minimise the appearance of dark spots.
- Turmeric: Research suggests that turmeric inhibits melanin production. Besides lightening dark spots, turmeric reduces skin inflammation due to pimples.
- Over-the-counter solutions
No time for DIY remedies? Don’t be afraid to look at formulated products. Over-the-counter formulas with the right ingredient mix will target your hyperpigmentation with zero fuss.
- Vitamin C: A star ingredient in skincare products nowadays, Vitamin C not only fades dark spots but also treats acne blemishes and gives your skin a natural glow.
- Retinol: Retinol creams and serums tackle dark spots located deep within the skin. But retinol could leave your complexion more sensitive to damage from the sun.
- Sunscreen: Hyperpigmentation caused by pimples gets darker if you are out in the sun a lot. Counter that by slathering on moisturiser with a good SPF during the day.
- Salicylic acid: This exfoliating agent clears pores and even acne bacteria. A cleanser containing salicylic acid could also slough off dark spots over time.
Over-the-counter solutions generally restrict melanin production in the dark spots and peel away the old, dead skin. However, they can be harsh if your skin is sensitive. That’s why it helps to monitor your complexion closely when applying new products.
- Preventive care for acne-prone skin
Prevention is key! If you have no pimples in the first place, dark spots will not appear. Here is a simple regimen that you could follow:
- Wash the skin with a mild cleanser. Work in the product using gentle circular motions. Then rinse off with water and pat dry.
- Swipe on a toner that suits your skin type. This clears the pores and restores your skin’s pH balance.
- Apply a thin layer of anti-acne cream. A plant-based formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream soothes the skin and fights acne symptoms.
- Finally, massage in some of your favourite moisturiser. Make sure it gets absorbed completely.
Do this twice a day for the best results!
When is it time to see a dermatologist?
If, despite your best efforts, that dark spot is not responding to home treatment, it may be time to bring in the experts. Acne-related hyperpigmentation is not generally harmful to health, but dark spots can be downers. Don’t let them mess with your self-esteem when a dermatologist could help you find some answers.
Just remember that some kinds of dark spots may point to a more serious health issue. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Fast growth: Run your fingers over a dark spot and you won’t feel any bumps. Hyperpigmentation caused by acne tends to be flat against the skin. So, you should be concerned if a spot is expanding quickly and starting to resemble a mole.
- Changing shape: Dark spots due to pimples are restricted to where the acne lesion was. They generally present as small, round spots. But if the mark takes on an irregular shape or it starts to spread, then it’s best to get an expert to weigh in.
- Evolving colour: A dark spot usually is of one colour. But if you notice that the blemish has more than one colour—maybe some black or tan mixed in with brown—then set up an appointment with a skin specialist.
- Itching or bleeding: Once the acne has healed and a dark spot has formed, you should not feel itchy and the pigmented spot should not bleed. In case of itchiness and bleeding, consult your dermatologist to check if there’s something else at play.
You should also see the doctor if the dark spot appeared out of the blue or if you are not sure what it is.
The dermatologist will inspect the blemish and may run some diagnostics to rule out serious conditions like skin cancer which call for urgent care. And if there’s nothing to worry about, the dermatologist could point you to in-office treatments that minimise those spots.
To stay clear of dark spots, give your skin the support it needs. Avoid cosmetics that clog the pores, change your pillowcases frequently, and follow a healthy lifestyle. Also, resist the urge to pop a pimple. It just prolongs the inflammation and may increase the risk of dark spot formation. And be patient with your treatment plan. Dark spots do fade away, but sometimes they take a few months to disappear completely.
Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.