How to Treat Back Acne Scars

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN on February 1, 2018Written by Kathryn Watson on February 1, 2018

Acne is a skin condition in which the pores and hair follicles of your skin become blocked by sweat, oil, and hair. As a result, irritating bumps and blackheads can form on the skin. Acne is the most skin condition in teens and adults.

Some people develop acne on their back as well as their face. Scratching and picking at acne on your back can result in scarring and make your acne worse. Before treating scars caused by acne, it’s important to treat all active blemishes. Some scar treatments can’t be done alongside breakouts.

Types of acne scars

Hypertrophic scars are the most common type caused by back acne. They are characterized by extra layers of scarring on top of your skin. Keloid scars are shiny and smooth growths of scar tissue. Occasionally, back acne can produce a scar that looks sunken in or resembles a puncture. This is called an atrophic scar.

Keep reading to find out the best ways to treat back acne scars by using cosmetic or doctor-prescribed treatments.

At-home treatments

At-home treatments are a good starting point if you have a smaller number of scars and they aren’t very deep.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

AHAs are used in products that treat acne and acne scars. They treat acne by exfoliating dead skin and preventing pores from getting clogged. They make scars less noticeable by exfoliating the top layer of skin to minimize discoloration and rough-looking skin.

Best for: all types of acne scars

Lactic acid

One found that lactic acid may help treat skin texture, appearance, and pigmentation. It may also lighten acne scars.

Milder solutions that contain lactic acid are available from many skin care companies. If those aren’t strong enough, your dermatologist can perform a chemical peel with a much stronger solution.

Best for: all types of acne scars

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is also a common ingredient in products that treat acne blemishes and .

It works by unclogging pores, reducing swelling, and exfoliating skin. Because it can be drying and irritating on some people’s skin, try using it as a spot treatment.

You can buy it in products at drugstores or see a dermatologist for stronger solutions.

Best for: all types of acne scars

Avoid putting lemon juice and baking soda on your skin, as they can cause dryness and damage.

In-office procedures

There are multiple kinds of in-office treatments that a dermatologist might recommend to treat back acne scars. Some have been clinically proven to reduce scarring, while others need more research to confirm their effectiveness.

Pulsed-dye laser treatment

Pulsed-dye laser treatment can work to get rid of hypertrophic scars. By pulsing this particular kind of laser over your scar tissue, the skin cells are left more aligned, more elastic, and less inflamed.

Best for: hypertrophic and keloid scars

Cryotherapy

For deep hypertrophic scarring on your back, you might want to consider cryotherapy. In this procedure, the temperature of your skin is brought down significantly and blood flow to the area of your scar is restricted.

The goal of cryotherapy in this case is for your scar to experience cell death and fall off. Sometimes this procedure needs to be repeated several times to see any marked result.

Best for: deep hypertrophic scars

Chemical peels

Strong chemical peels containing glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and other hydroxyl acids can be used to treat acne scars. This method is usually used on your face, but it can work on back acne scars, too.

Under the supervision of a dermatologist, a single acid or a mixture of these powerful acidic agents is applied to your skin and allowed to penetrate your skin cells. Many of these acids will be allowed to remain on the skin, while others will be neutralized with the application of another product. A single application of a chemical peel can improve a scar’s appearance by , according to one study.

Best for: all types of acne scars; often used for deeper scars

The takeaway

If you have recurrent breakouts that result in scarring, make an appointment with your doctor. Addressing the overall cause of your back acne scarring — the acne itself — is the best course of action to prevent further scarring.

Starting with home remedies or trying topical treatments available over-the-counter, and being patient with your skin while it heals, might be all you need to resolve your back acne scars.

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