It can be so annoying to finally clear your acne but still have little red reminders of your past struggles! The red or purplish marks after breakouts are called Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE). Want to know the best, affordable ways to get rid of PIE scars? Then read on for some effective tips!

As a quick note, many people tend to refer to these red marks as “acne scars”. This is a broad term that has been used to describe these 4 types of skin concerns:

Types of Acne Scars

  1. Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)
  2. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
  3. Atrophic Scarring
  4. Hypertrophic Scarring

Here is a simple explanation of each:

**Be sure to read each definition, and see which applies to you! As a reminder, this article is about PIE. If you determine you have PIH or atrophic scarring, for example, I have other detailed articles that can help you with those concerns.**

Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

Often after you experience inflammatory acne, you will be left with “erythema”.

According to the Pennsylvania Centre For Dermatology, “Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE) refers to the red or purplish marks left behind from acne. The redness is from damage or dilation done to capillaries near the surface of the skin resulting in small flat red marks.”

PIE tends to happen in people with lighter skin tones.

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

I used to think that I had Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) after my acne. PIH actually refers to brown spots like freckles, birthmarks, etc.

PIH can happen after acne if you have a darker skin tone.

The treatment for PIH differs from PIE as you are targeting melanin which creates that darker pigment.

Read more: How to get rid of PIH at home

Atrophic Scarring

I also suffered from atrophic scarring. Atrophic scarring refers to actual indentations in your skin caused by acne. In the wrong lighting, your face looks like the moon with all its craters! This type of concern is a true acne scar.

It used to be frustrating for me to search “How to treat acne scars” only to find people giving advice on how to treat PIE red marks.

Treating deep acne scarring takes time and patience, but it is possible. You can even treat it at home!

Read more: How to treat atrophic acne scars at home

Hypertrophic Scars

“Hypertrophic scars (HTSs) are defined as visible and elevated scars that do not spread into surrounding tissues and that often regress spontaneously” says NCBI.

Now that we have distinguised between these skin concerns, let’s learn more about PIE!

How To Get Rid Of PIE Scars

To reiterate: To get rid of PIE scars, you’ll need to combat redness and reverse capillary damage.

I will first start by listing affordable products you can use at home, since I want this guide to be helpful for everyone.

Even if you have a limited budget, you can get clear skin with these effective options.

Just know, as with any treatment you do at home, it may take more time and patience to see results vs. getting procedures done at the dermatologist’s office.

Rosehip Oil

First up, rosehip oil is one of the most effective ways to get rid of PIE scars. As someone who loves chemical exfoliators and believes in micro-needling/lasers/etc., I didn’t think an oil would give me such great results.

But using rosehip oil has blown me away!

Within two weeks, the red marks on my cheeks faded significantly. I recently discovered the power of Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil as it is a pregnancy safe option.

Rosehip oil’s fatty acids and Vitamin A improve the texture of the skin, regenerate it, and help strengthen the skin barrier. My face has never felt softer.

Click photos for links!

This is the rosehip oil that I use. It’s clean and a 10/10 for me! Plus, it lasts a long time.

Microneedling

Microneedling is such a great all-around option to perform at home for getting rid of PIE scars. It can target the PIE, uneven skin tone, atrophic scarring, fine lines, and give you a lovely glow.

This at home treatment is great at rebuilding collagen and repairing those damaged capillaries to help the redness.

Here is the at home microneedling pen I use and swear by. The ORA Pen is really affordable and refills are cheap so you can get many treatments out of the tool. To compare: one typical dermatologist microneedling session ran me about $300. The ORA Pen is $82 and comes with the cartridges for two treatments, and then it costs $20 to get two refillable heads. So, 4 treatments for about $100.

I have personally noticed that after getting microneedling treatments done whether at the Dr. office or at home, my deeper acne scars are improved, as well as the red marks.

You can’t beat that, especially as doing microneedling on your own at home is super easy! Here is an article on how to do this:

Read more: How to use a microneedling pen at home

I always have to mention that I personally don’t recommend using a dermaroller over a microneedling pen. Dermarollers can actually cause more damage to your skin!

Silicone Sheets

Silicone sheets bring up an important point in battling PIE marks: these are typically used to help keep the affected skin hydrated and protected, and the skin barrier strong. These sheets are typically recommended because it helps the skin essentially heal faster on its own, without needing other serums/products.

Most people who suffer from acne have a skin barrier that’s compromised, typically with “higher sebum secretion and greater TEWL and markedly decreased SC conductance…” 1 (TEWL = Transepidermal Water Loss, SC Conductance = Less Hydrated Stratum Corneum).

Whether it’s from the wrong products that are drying out the skin barrier or the fact that in acne-prone people “sebum production is higher and the size of sebaceous glands are larger in people with acne-prone facial skin…” 2 this creates an environment for acne to thrive and for damage done to heal slowly.

As mentioned before, silicone sheets are effective for making sure the skin can heal properly. Apply after experiencing breakouts to prevent the severity of PIE marks and to help get rid of them faster.

Imagine applying these sheets after microneedling too! It creates the perfect environment for your skin to heal after a treatment that much better. Better healing = multiple benefits for improving your acne marks, acne scars, fine lines, and dull skin.

Vitamin C

Clean Beauty Beautycounter Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is a wonderful option to consider using topically to help improve PIE marks. This antioxidant helps turn over the skin, reduces inflammation, and then improves skin barrier function.

Using Vitamin C helps keep the skin barrier hydrated and moisturized and also keeps acne at bay to prevent any more other marks from showing up by preventing the acne in the first place.

It also will boost collagen production which can in tern strengthen those capillary walls that were damaged.

Retinol

Another effective topical treatment for getting rid of PIE scar is retinol. It is great at reducing discoloration and makes the marks not as noticeable to the eye. Retinol is also another option that will boost the collage production that is essential for strengthening the damaged skin.

AHA/BHA

This will do a great job of sloughing off the outer layer of skin to reveal baby smooth and even skin underneath. It increases the cellular turnover of the skin which all work together to get rid of the old, marked skin and to heal it.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen for the win! Applying sunscreen is vital for preventing PIE scars from getting darker and having them stick around longer. Even if you don’t use any of the items listed above, a good sunscreen will help protect them from the damaging rays of the sun, letting them fade faster.

Also, be sure to use a mineral sunscreen as this is gentler on skin. Mineral sunscreen will prevent breakouts and the vicious cycle of new PIE scars appearing.

How To Get Rid Of PIE Scars Using Professional Procedures

While this is a more expensive option to get done at a dermatologist’s office, it is super effective and has to be mentioned:

Laser

Pulsed Dye Lasers: These lasers are used to treat vascular lesions without damaging the surrounding tissues, and are also effective for removing the redness in post-inflammatory erythema.

It basically breaks down the damaged blood vessels by penetrating deep into the skin.

Some patients have seen results results in as little as one month.

How Long Do PIE Scars Last?

PIE scars that are totally left untreated can last up to 8 months until they fade away.

If you don’t wear sunscreen it can last even longer and take more time to heal since the sun will be damaging it more.

The absolute good news is that they do fade on their own over time.

With these treatments mentioned above, give them at least 3-4 months to give your skin time to adapt and adjust to everything and to see real results. My red marks have gone away in that time based on my personal experience!

How to get rid of pie scars post inflammatory erythema easily and affordably.

Overview of How To Get Rid Of PIE Scars

I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to get rid of your PIE scars affordably at home, after learning about these products that you can easily incorporate into your skincare routine. Never give up on your journey to clear skin! It is possible to do it at home, just make sure you put in the time and patience too!

All the best,

Mia

Citations

1,2. Thiboutot, Diane, and James Q Del Rosso. “Acne Vulgaris and the Epidermal Barrier: Is Acne Vulgaris Associated with Inherent Epidermal Abnormalities that Cause Impairment of Barrier Functions? Do Any Topical Acne Therapies Alter the Structural and/or Functional Integrity of the Epidermal Barrier?.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 6,2 (2013): 18-24.

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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