You Can Realistically Get Rid of Pitted Acne Scars

Getting rid of pitted acne scars can be challenging, but not impossible! (I know from personal experience!)

While PIE and PIH acne marks are superficial and easily treatable, pitted acne scars will take some work to smooth out and look less like craters.

But don’t despair: if you are affected by pitted acne scars, read on for realistic, and useful information to help you get rid of pitted acne scars at home ASAP!

A picture of a woman with pitted acne scars.

What Is A Pitted Acne Scar?

To be clear on the issue we are tackling here, there are two types of acne scars that can occur after acne:

Atrophic Acne Scars

Or, pitted acne scars. These are what this article is concerned with today!

According to NCBI, “…In 80 to 90 percent of [acne] cases, there is a net destruction of collagen in the dermis that results in atrophic scars.”

Basically, this type of acne scar occurs when the skin is unable to rebuild the collagen destroyed from acne.

That area has healed below the normal skin surface level, leaving a depressed mark or pit.

Hypertrophic Acne Scars

Less commonly, there can be an overabundance of production of collagen after acne which leads to hypertrophic/keloid scars.

This becomes an overgrowth of scar tissue and is raised above the skin surface level.

Three Types of Atrophic (Pitted) Acne Scars

If you have atrophic acne scars, they might fall into three categories describing their depth, shape, and size.

Icepick, Rolling, and Boxcar Scars

Icepick scars – these are deep, narrow, pitted scars

Rolling scars – broad depressions with a sloping edge

Boxcar scars – broad depressions with sharply defined edges

Definitions from DermNet NZ
A diagram describing the different types of acne scars. There are three types of atrophic acne scars, as well as hypertrophic acne scars.

Causes of Acne Scars

If you want know how to get rid of pitted scars, you have to first understand how they form!

“Acne scars are usually the result of inflamed blemishes caused by skin pores engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. The pore swells, causing a break in the follicle wall. Shallow lesions are usually minor and heal quickly.

But if there is a deep break in the wall of the pore, infected material can spill out into surrounding tissue, creating deeper lesions.

The skin attempts to repair these lesions by forming new collagen fibers. These repairs usually aren’t as smooth and flawless as the original skin.” ASDS

Now that you have a little background, here are some tried and true, realistic ways of how to get rid of pitted acne scars.

How To Get Rid Of Pitted Acne Scars

Here are easy treatments you can do at home to get rid of pitted acne scars:

First up, it is worth noting that you need to make sure you have active acne under control before treating pitted scars.

If your acne is severe, the cycle of new acne scars appearing will be constant!

1. Microneedling

Microneedling is very effective for repairing deep acne scars. This is what I personally focused on for my scars!

Totally start here!

Basically, microneedling helps boost the production of collagen and will repair the scar from the inside out. If you have deep scars, this will be essential to replace the collagen that was damaged, and that caused the indention.

If you’d like many useful articles on how to use a microneedling pen, detailed explanations on how it rebuilds collagen, as well as the best pen options to choose from, check out my Get Rid Of Acne Scars archives.

A microneedling pen is super easy to use! – (Click for link!)

Pens are the type of device used in dermatologist’s office. You can save tons of money and get more effective results by using a pen at home! (Click for article.)

Try starting your microneedling journey with 3 sessions spaced out a month in-between, then move on to the options below. I will explain why further on.

ALSO, I PERSONALLY & STRONGLY RECOMMEND NOT USING A DERMAROLLER. Dermarollers can do more damage to your skin.

2. Retinoids

Retinoids are topicals that will help slightly to fill in depressed acne scars. It works from the inside out, stimulating collagen to help plump up scars.

Furthermore, it also lightens the red marks or PIE/PIH that might be making your scars more noticeable. Once that’s gone, then your eye is drawn away from the scar.

Here is a breakdown of the retinoid family:

A diagram explaining the components of the retinoid family. There are Retinyl esters, retinol, retinal, and retinoic acids that make up this diverse family in skincare.

If you are new to using retinoids, start with retinol. There are effective, affordable options to choose some. Some personal favorites that I’ve tried and saw make a difference:

If you have skin that can handle a more a stronger version, use Curology to get an at home prescription of tretinoin. It’s very accessible and the formulation is so effective.

I saw the texture and pigmentation improve greatly after using the tretinoin from Curology. It typically works faster than retinol since it is stronger.

If you are planning on doing another microneedling session, stop using your retinoid product for two weeks before to give your skin a break.

The combination of microneedling and using retinoids is just too harsh to use together.

Use your retinoid product at night after cleansing.

You will want to gradually step into using the product to prevent dryness and irritation. Here is a great article explaining why.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps stimulate collagen and promotes cellular turnover which is necessary for lifting up those scars, as well as makes the scars look lighter. Overall, after using Vitamin C the texture of my skin much more even toned and pretty. Your skin will look its best and draw attention away from scars as much as possible.


I think you can choose between retinoids or Vitamin C. It might not do much to use both in your skincare routine, except for irritate your skin.

Use this in the morning after cleansing.

4. Exfoliation

The Ordinary Peeling Solution is such a popular, viral product for good reason:

It will help your skin look beautiful and radiant, as well as diminishes how your indented scars will look. This sloughs off the top layer of dead skin to reveal baby fresh skin underneath.

It won’t completely get rid of acne scars on its own, but when you combine it with the other options it’s like secret sauce for smooth, even toned skin.

This is best done once a week, on a night out aren’t using retinoids, or doing microneedling.

5. Sunscreen

If you are going to incorporate all the methods mentioned above, be sure to wear sunscreen!

Still, even if you don’t use these products, wearing sunscreen is so crucial because it prevents the sun from breaking down your skin. Your scars may look worse if you let sun rays break down the collagen further. Skin will look overall saggy, pigmentation darker, etc.

Try a mineral sunscreen which will be less irritating/make you less prone to breakouts!

This product mentioned is Countersun Daily Sheer Defense For Face – SPF 25. Such a favorite!

Overall Review of How To Get Rid Of Pitted Acne Scars

So now you know some of the most realistic ways to effectively and affordably get rid of pitted acne scars at home, which can be done by the everyday person!

If you can’t afford going to the dermatologist and spending lots of money on cosmetic procedures, these ways will be super effective and basically get a similar job done at home for less.

To be clear, there is no magic acne scar removal that will work overnight. Please don’t fall for creams that promise this!

The certain topicals mentioned above will help with the appearance but it definitely takes time and patience.

If you have been struggling with pitted acne scars for a while, definitely give these options a shot because I have personally seen such improvement from using these exact same procedures and products. Good luck!

Best, Mia

This content is for informational purposes only, and what has worked for me personally based on my own opinions. I am not a professional/medical doctor, and you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist on what will work best for you. The information presented here is not legitimate, official advice from a professional. If you choose to rely on any information from this blog, you do so at your own risk. Please refer to the “Blog Disclaimer” tab in the menu bar to read more information and the official disclaimer statement.

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