Acne, one of the most common skin disorders for Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD. It affects 40 to 60 million people. Acne occurs when pores, which are attached to oil glands, become clogged with dirt, bacteria and sebum. Hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, can appear if you pop pimples. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is common among people with darker skin, including African Americans or Latinos.
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Red spots will sometimes appear on your skin where acne once was if your skin tone is dark. Fortunately, these are not scars. The AAD reports that unlike scars, dark red spots, known as hyperpigmentation, will eventually fade. Because healing can take several months, there are treatment methods that can help to minimize the appearance of spots more quickly.
Before They Fade
Before red spots can fade, they can get worse if you do not exercise the proper prevention procedures. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck and all other exposed areas on a daily basis. Use an oil-free sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, which will not only block the sun, but the oil-free formulation will not exacerbate already oily skin and won’t clog pores.
In 2007, the International Journal of Dermatology published a study by Florence Poli indicating that skin lighteners can help to minimize red spots sooner. The AAD explains that over-the-counter bleaching creams containing 2 percent hydroquinone may be effective in reducing discoloration. Products containing more than 2 percent hydroquinone could actually bleach the skin surrounding red spots, so be sure to read the label. If prescribed by your dermatologist, bleaching solution containing 4 percent hydroquinone should be safe.
Other prescription medications that can help to lighten skin affected by moderate to severe acne include tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene and azelaic acid.
Caring for Acne
How you care for breakouts could determine whether pimples fade completely, or take time to fade altogether. Acne.org recommends using benzoyl peroxide to kill P. acne, the bacteria that cause pimples to form. Benzoyl peroxide is also very effective at preventing breakouts from occurring. Because this over-the-counter medication has some bleaching properties, it can help to reduce red spots from appearing and decrease the amount of time it takes them to fade.
If you don’t want to wait the several weeks to several months it could take for your red spots to clear completely, you may want to consider a more invasive treatment such as a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, or lasers.
According to the AAD’s website, Skincarephysicians.com, there are over-the-counter chemicals peels you can purchase at a drug store and use at home. Chemicals in the product work by removing the top layers of skin. Microdermabrasion is a procedure done by a dermatologist that involves using a machine to remove the surface layer of skin. Lasers are used as a last resort for people with darker skin who have exhausted other methods of spot fading.