The Independent Pharmacy

The Best Treatments For Acne Scars

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 14 Oct 2023

The most reliable and safest way to get rid of the scarring is to consult a medical professional. A doctor can get to the root of your acne problem and find out what caused it in the first place. When it comes to acne scars, they can prescribe you a stronger treatment, such as Duac Gel, when over-the-counter products aren't enough.

However, you can take more steps to maximise the result of your acne scar treatment. Protect your skin with sunscreen or give a go-to home remedy like a lemon and honey mask or coconut oil. You also need to look out for ingredients in your skincare products as some of them are especially effective for acne scarring.

Overall, there are a variety of over-the-counter products, professional procedures and dermatologist-provided options that can markedly improve the appearance of acne scarring. With persistence and patience, most types of acne marks can be faded and smoothed for restored confidence in your complexion.

Treating Acne Scars with The Independent Pharmacy

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Retinol is one of the superstars when it comes to treating acne scarring of all types. This vitamin A derivative helps boost collagen production and speeds up cell turnover to reveal fresher, smoother skin. By exfoliating the outer layer of the skin, retinol allows newer, unscarred cells to surface and evens out skin texture.

The CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum has a special form of retinol known as 'encapsulated retinol'. This means it releases slowly over time, reducing the chance of skin irritation. It's combined with skin-loving ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. This serum should be applied once daily at night after cleansing. Take care to only apply a thin layer to avoid excess dryness. Consistent use over 2-3 months can markedly improve shallow acne scars and discolouration.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
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Duac Gel

Containing benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin, Duac gel is a prescription-strength treatment that takes a dual approach to acne scars. The benzoyl peroxide deeply exfoliates to clear away dead skin cells and prevent new breakouts that could cause scarring. Meanwhile, the clindamycin antibiotic attacks acne-causing bacteria. Used together, this combination clears acne lesions and minimises the potential for new scars while also helping fade post-inflammatory discolouration from existing scars.

Duac gel is best applied once daily in a thin layer of affected areas. Limit application to just the scarred areas as benzoyl peroxide can be quite drying. It's critical to avoid excessive sun exposure when using Duac as it can make skin more sun-sensitive. See visible improvements in pitted, indented and discoloured scars after 2-3 months of daily Duac use.

Duac Gel (3% & 5%)
Duac Gel (3% & 5%)
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Skinoren Cream

Skinoren Cream's main ingredient is azelaic acid. This cream is specifically designed to tackle acne scarring in two main ways. First, the azelaic acid works to gently exfoliate and renew the outer layers of skin to reveal fresher cells underneath. It also has antibacterial properties to combat acne-causing bacteria. Together, these actions treat active breakouts to prevent new scars while also actively fading existing acne marks.

Skinoren Cream can be applied once or twice daily after cleansing. It may cause mild stinging or irritation when first used. The best results come with consistent application over at least 2-3 months. Be sure to use a moisturiser in addition to Skinoren Cream, as azelaic acid can be drying. Skinoren Cream is available via prescription - consult a dermatologist to obtain it or simply fill in our self-assessment to get the right treatment for you. With routine use, Skinoren Cream can minimise the appearance of all types of acne scarring.

Skinoren 20% Cream
Skinoren 20% Cream
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Key Ingredients in Acne Scar Treatments


What It Does

Benefits for Acne Scars


Helps new skin come to the surface

Makes skin smoother and reduces scar appearance

Azelaic Acid

Cleans and renews skin

Fades marks and soothes redness

Vitamin C

Brightens and firms skin

Evens out skin colour and reduces scar visibility

Salicylic Acid

Deep-cleans pores

Prevents new breakouts and smooths skin

Lactic Acid

Gently removes dead skin

Softens skin and reduces dark spots


Retinoids like retinol are vitamin A derivatives that have become superstars in the skincare world for their ability to transform lacklustre, scarred skin. Topical retinoids work their magic by accelerating cell turnover and stimulating collagen production in the skin. This ramped-up exfoliation reveals fresh new skin while the collagen rebuilding helps fill in creases and smooth bumps and improve skin texture. Retinol is gentler than prescription-strength retinoids, so it's ideal for targeting both acne scarring and signs of ageing like fine lines.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a lesser-known skincare ingredient that dermatologists love for its ability to fade acne marks and scars. This ingredient has a dual mechanism, working to renew skin cells while also killing acne-causing bacteria. These actions combined help prevent new breakouts while improving the appearance of existing acne scarring. Azelaic acid also helps reduce inflammation and redness. It is well tolerated even by those with sensitive skin.

Vitamin C

When it comes to acne scarring, vitamin C is a must for its powerful skin-brightening and collagen-boosting abilities. Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit melanin production, helping to lighten and even out pigmentation from acne scars. Plus, this antioxidant helps boost collagen synthesis to plump up and smooth the skin's surface. Look for stable formulas containing l-ascorbic acid for maximum benefit on acne marks.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a strong ingredient known for fighting acne. It is able to dive deep into pores to dissolve and sweep away excess oil, dead skin cells, and other pore-clogging debris. This helps prevent new breakouts and potential scarring while also smoothing out existing uneven texture. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce acne-related redness and swelling. Those with oily, acne-prone skin benefit most from salicylic acid.

Lactic Acid

For those with dry or sensitive skin, lactic acid is a milder option compared to other similar ingredients. Derived from fermented milk, lactic acid works to lightly exfoliate the outer layers of skin to diminish the appearance of acne marks and scars. It also has humectant properties to attract and retain moisture in the skin. Over-the-counter lotions containing 5-10% lactic acid can safely be used 1-2 times per week to improve texture and reduce acne discolouration.

At-Home Remedies and Tips for Acne Scars

We understand that managing acne scars can be overwhelming, and not everyone is ready or able to opt for expensive treatments. Fortunately, there are gentle at-home remedies to explore:

  • Honey & Lemon Mask: Both have natural antibacterial and brightening properties to fade marks. Mix 2 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp lemon juice. Apply for 10-15 minutes and then rinse. Use 2-3 times per week.
  • Aloe Vera: Its healing and anti-inflammatory properties help repair skin. Apply gel from the plant directly or look for scar creams containing aloe.
  • Coconut Oil: Softens and soothes scars while providing moisture to aid healing. Gently rub extra virgin coconut oil on marks nightly.
  • Baking Soda Scrub: Gently exfoliates and evens out the texture. Mix with water to form a paste. Rub lightly on scars for 1-2 minutes, then rinse. Use 2-3 times per week.
  • Cucumber Slices: Help reduce inflammation and redness around scars thanks to cucumber's soothing properties. Lay slices directly on scars for 15-20 minutes daily.
  • Green Tea: Calms inflammation and may help fade discolouration when applied topically. Brew strong green tea, let it cool, and apply via a cotton pad.
  • Rosehip Seed Oil: Boosts collagen production to improve indentations and smooth texture. Press a few drops into the scars morning and night.

When using natural remedies, be patient and consistent for 2-3 months before visible changes. Always do a test patch first to check for any irritation. While homemade treatments can help improve acne scarring, medical procedures give more dramatic results for very deep, pitted scarring.

Remember that results can be different for everyone. It's also important to consult with a dermatologist before starting new treatments, especially if you're pregnant, have sensitive skin or have known allergies.

Your Next Steps

We know living with acne scars can sometimes affect one's self-esteem, but please remember you're not alone on this journey. Speak with your dermatologist about customised treatment plans utilising laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and prescription topicals best suited to your unique scar type and skin concerns.

Supplement clinical treatments with diligent at-home practices like daily sunscreen, collagen-boosting serums, and exfoliating acids. Support overall skin health through proper hydration, nutrition, and avoiding picking/irritation.

Remember that fading acne scars takes patience and consistency. But sticking with an individualised approach tailored to your needs can dramatically minimise the evidence of past breakouts. Clearer, smoother skin is achievable when you take the right steps.

At The Independent Pharmacy, we specialise in providing personalised skincare solutions to help treat conditions like acne scarring. Our team of medical experts offer professional-grade treatments and products paired with customised guidance and support for your unique skin goals.

All you need to do to get started on your journey is to fill out our short online assessment. Once it gets reviewed by our expert team, you can order the right treatment for you and enjoy a quick delivery.

Remember, everyone's skin journey is unique, and you deserve support every step of the way. Reach out to us at The Independent Pharmacy, and let's take this journey to clearer skin together.


What is the most effective treatment for acne scars?

It depends on the type of scarring, but lasers, chemical peels and microneedling are top options.

How do you get rid of acne scars 100%?

Completely removing scars 100% is very rare. However consistent treatment over time can dramatically minimise their appearance.

Can anything permanently get rid of acne scars?

Laser resurfacing produces long-lasting results, but scars may not be gone forever. New breakouts can also cause new scarring.

How do you fix acne scar craters?

Microneedling and deep chemical peels are best for crater-like depressed scars.

What clears old acne scars?

Laser skin resurfacing, along with chemical peels and dermabrasion, works well on mature scars.

Do acne holes ever heal on their own?

Very deep, pitted scars likely need treatment. More shallow scars may gradually improve over time.

Does retinol reduce acne scars?

Yes, retinol helps resurface the skin and can visibly minimise shallow acne scars over time.


A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin - Kong - 2016 - Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology - Wiley Online Library

Moisturizers and Ceramide-containing Moisturizers May Offer Concomitant Therapy with Benefits - PMC (

Recommendations | Acne vulgaris: management | Guidance | NICE

Focus: Antimicrobial Resistance: Antibiotics and Antimicrobial Resistance in Acne: Epidemiological Trends and Clinical Practice Considerations - PMC (

Evaluation of the antibacterial efficacy of diesters of azelaic acid - ScienceDirect

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