How to Remove Dark Spots Caused by Pimples

How to Remove Dark Spots Caused by Pimples
by Truly Beauty

How to remove dark spots caused by pimples? Sometimes, acne breakouts leave a dark mark on your skin even after the breakout is gone. Here’s why: when a pimple occurs, it’s a form of inflammation. As your skin heals and new skin cells form, some of those cells contain too much melanin, which can result in a darker patch of skin known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

That’s why dermatologists tell you to never pick of squeeze a blemish. It’s because it makes your skin inflammation last longer, increasing your risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation—or dark spots. People with darker skin tones are more prone to developing dark spots from acne. How do you get rid of dark spots from pimples? Ahead, the best treatments for dark spots caused by pimples.


What Causes Acne Dark Spots?

Acne dark spots are areas of deeply pigmented skin that develop after skin trauma and inflammation. Acne can cause infection to spread in the dermis and as part of the healing process, the cells in the inflamed area release more melanin—the pigment that gives skin its color. When more melanin is produced, your skin tone becomes darker.

Increased melanin in the epidermis will form dark brown spots on the skin. Increased melanin in the dermis layer can result in hyperpigmented lesions. According to research, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation affects all skin types but it is most common in those with darker skin tones.


How to Remove Dark Spots Caused by Pimples

how to remove dark spots caused by pimples | woman with acne dark spots

Dark spots and discoloration caused by acne will eventually go away on their own. However, it can take anywhere from several weeks to a few years. If want to know how to get rid of dark spots from pimples fast, here are the best ways.


1: Retinol

Retinoids can work wonders for improving dark spots from pimples by boosting collagen production and stimulating cellular turnover. That being said, the vitamin a derivative retinol can be irritating to the skin, especially if you already have sensitive skin. Side effects can include redness, flaking, and dryness. You want to avoid any irritation to the affected area because inflammation can damage the pigment cells, making dark spots more visible.

For the best results, try applying your retinol product one night a week for the first week, followed by two nights a week for two weeks. If you don’t experience any dryness, redness, or irritation, bump it up to four nights a week.

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2: Niacinamide

How to remove dark spots caused by pimples? Niacinamide is a popular skincare ingredient that’s great for fading dark spots caused by acne. Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help calm redness and irritation associated with dark spots. Inflammation is often a contributing factor to the development of hyperpigmentation.

What’s more, niacinamide has been shown to inhibit the transfer of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color) to the skin cells, helping to reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

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3: Glycolic Acid

Swap your face scrub (which is way too aggressive for your skin) for a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid. This alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) helps dissolve the glue between dead skin cells, leaving you with a fresher, clearer, and brighter complexion.

Besides diminishing dark spots, glycolic acid is great for treating acne—especially blackheads and whiteheads. By unclogging pores of dirt, sebum, and dead cells, glycolic acid prevents acne from forming in the first place.

Another bonus: exfoliation helps skincare products sink in better. In other words, any spot treatments or brightening formulas will penetrate deeper into the skin, making them more effective.

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4: Vitamin C

If you’re looking for how to remove dark spots caused by pimples fast, try vitamin C. This antioxidant stimulates collagen production, blocks pigment production, and brightens the skin, thus fading dark spots and discoloration. Studies even prove vitamin C to be an effective depigmenting agent that can help fade and prevent dark spots by decreasing melanin formation.

Vitamin C also helps protect your skin against free radical damage from pollution and UV radiation, preventing premature signs of aging in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

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5: Pomegranate Extract

Rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and ellagic acid, pomegranate extract helps combat oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals that contribute to skin damage and discoloration. The extract also boasts anti-inflammatory effects, which may alleviate redness and irritation associated with dark spots from breakouts.

While not a direct melanin inhibitor, the extract’s anti-inflammatory and skin-brightening qualities can indirectly reduce hyperpigmentation, creating a more even complexion.

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6: Hydrocolloid Patches

As soon as a pimple appears, pop on a hydrocolloid patch (also known as an acne patch or pimple patch). Hydrocolloid patches create a moist environment for pimples to heal quickly and prevent acne scarring. Using these patches is one of the best ways to prevent skin inflammation from sticking around and dark spots from appearing.

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In-Office Treatments

How to remove dark spots caused by pimples? As a next step up from over the counter treatments, try in-office treatments. Here are some of the best treatments for dark spots from acne.


Chemical Peel

Chemical peels work to remove damaged skin cells and reveal smoother, clearer skin underneath. They involve applying a blend of topical acids to your face to treat all kinds of hyperpigmentation, including dark spots caused by pimples. While chemical peels can be effective, they can also be pricey. You can expect to pay $300+ per peel. Consult with your dermatologist to see if it’s the right option for you.



Microdermabrasion is another good treatment option for dark spots caused by blemishes. It uses a device that deeply exfoliates the skin to buff away dark spots and leave skin smooth and even. Microdermabrasion is often used to treat dark spots, including those caused by acne.


Laser Treatment

Laser skin resurfacing is one of the best treatments for dark spots caused by pimples. It works to remove dead skin while encouraging new cells to grow, helping to even out your skin tone. When combined with a good skincare routine, it really is the best treatment plan for targeting dark marks.



Microneedling is another treatment option to consider if you’re dealing with dark marks from acne. The procedure involves tiny punctures with needles to kickstart the body’s wound-healing response and speed up the healing process. It’s a great option if OTC treatments aren’t showing much promise.


Do Dark Pimple Marks Go Away?

How to Remove Dark Spots Caused by Pimples | model wearing pimple patch

Dark pimple marks usually fade over time. However, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to years before you see a noticeable improvement. Picking acne can increase the risk for dark spots and scarring. For that reason, it’s important to use acne treatments and stay consistent with your skincare routine. By preventing acne from forming in the first place, you’re much less likely to end up with dark spots.

Aim to incorporate one or more of the treatments mentioned above (such as glycolic acid, retinol, vitamin C, etc.) into your skincare routine. This will give your skin the best chance to heal and rejuvenate for a clearer complexion.


How to Prevent Dark Spots Caused by Pimples

To prevent dark marks, make sure you wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis. Wearing SPF prevents dark spots by shielding the skin from harmful UV rays. UV exposure triggers excessive melanin production, leading to the formation of dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

To keep skin clear and prevent breakouts in the first place, be consistent with your skincare routine. Your routine should comprise of an acne-fighting cleanser, moisturizer, and spot treatment. Look for products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide—both powerhouse acne fighters.


How to remove dark spots caused by pimples? Incorporate active ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide into your skincare routine to shed dead cells and speed up cell turnover for a fresher, more even looking complexion. While there are plenty of home remedies for dark spots caused by pimples, such as lemon juice, you’re better off sticking with skincare products to avoid irritating your skin and making dark spots worse.


Watch our tutorial on how to remove dark spots caused by pimples:


Photo by Ron Lach, Pexels


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