Red Blemish Marks: How To Improve and Remove

Red Blemish Marks: How To Improve and Remove

As if breakouts weren’t bad enough, they commonly leave behind red scars and marks as frustrating reminders that linger long after your breakout has cleared up. On the one hand, it can be comforting to know that many, many people struggle with blemish marks — it’s extremely common! On the other hand, knowing that other people deal with the same blemishes that you do doesn’t mean that they can’t hurt your self-esteem.

“Red blemish marks can be stubborn, but they don’t have to last forever.”

  • Shani Darden, Esthetician

To address red blemishes or other types of marks that can be left behind after a pimple clears up, it’s important to first know what’s going on with your skin to cause them in the first place and to break down the different types of blemish scars so that you can appropriately treat your skin. Then, we’ll break down some great options for minimizing the appearance of post-breakout marks, both in terms of professional treatment and in terms of topical, at-home solutions.

Why Do You Get Blemish Marks?

Breakouts cause breakout scars — but the answer is a bit more complex in terms of what makes breakout scars more likely to occur and why they form in the first place. 

It is true that the simplest way to avoid blemish scars is to treat your breakouts so that you break out less in the first place. However, this isn’t always possible — depending on your skin type, blackheads and whiteheads may be unavoidable, and types of breakouts, like cystic breakouts, are genetic or connected to your hormones. However, practicing effective and consistent skincare can help prevent blemish scars.

Your risk of blemish marks increases when you have cysts, because these breakouts cause more skin damage. Picking or popping your zits can also increase the likelihood of scarring

Lastly, genetics play a big role in how likely you are to get blemish scars.

What Are the Different Types of Blemish Marks?

There are a few different types of blemish scars that you may encounter, and which type of scar you get may determine the treatment you pursue. If you’re not sure what type of scars you have or are especially concerned about addressing them in the best possible way, a visit to your doctor or dermatologist is never a bad idea. 

In the meantime, let’s break down the common types of blemish scars.

Atrophic Scars

Atrophicscars are small depressions that disrupt the texture of your skin. Types of atrophic scars include boxcar, icepick, and rolling scars. They result from a lack of fibroblasts — cells that are integral to wound healing — during the healing process.

Hypertrophic Scars

Hypertrophic scars are the opposite of atrophic scars. They occur when your skin produces an excess of fibroblasts, resulting in a raised scar that can interrupt the texture of your skin. They tend to be roughly the size of the initial blemish.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are also the result of an excess of fibroblasts, but they’re different from hypertrophic scars in two ways. For one, the scar tissue created tends to extend beyond the original site of the pimple. For another, they’re often paired with dark spots or an excess of pigmentation that occurs in the skin surrounding your keloid scar. 

Keloid scars can be brown or red and may be associated with pain or itching. 

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is one of the more common residual effects of breakouts. It’s more common in darker skin tones, although all skin tones can be affected by hyperpigmentation. PIH occurs when dark spots form due to an excess of melanin production during the healing process. This discoloration is a type of blemish scar, but it can also result from any skin damage.

What Professional Treatments Are Available for Blemish Marks?

If you want to get rid of blemish marks, your first port of call might be to a board-certified dermatologist. Professional treatment options can provide impressive and quick results when it comes to addressing dark spots or marks and can be worth considering.

Microneedling, chemical peels, laser treatment, and even fillers can help relieve the hit to your self-esteem that blemish scars can cause. Your dermatologist can also offer access to prescription-strength retinoids to help even out and clear up your skin. 

Some side effects are associated with these more intense treatments, so consider every possible angle before pursuing them. Professional treatments can also be costly, particularly if your blemish marks are deep, and you’ll likely require repeat visits to get the desired results.

If professional treatments aren’t in the cards for you, don’t worry — you can also treat red blemish marks and other blemishes with your skincare routine!

How Can You Address Blemish Marks With Skincare?

If red blemish marks or other discoloration are your main concern, you can address this by tailoring your skincare routine to even out your skin tone and texture. Let’s walk through a simple but effective routine that can help to improve and eventually remove your blemish marks.

Cleanse + Exfoliate

Start your routine by cleansing and exfoliating. Exfoliating away dead skin cells, impurities, and other pore-clogging build-up is great, but when combating blemish marks, exfoliating serves another purpose. The appearance of the damage that has impacted the tone and texture of your skin in the form of blemish marks can be improved by sloughing away old, damaged skin and making way for newer, more even skin cells.

Consider skincare products containing chemical exfoliants to help address dark spots and pigmentation issues and create a clean, clear, and fresh base for the rest of your routine.

Target With a Serum

Make sure any serum you’re using is helping your blemish marks! Vitamin C serums are great for brightening your complexion and minimizing the appearance of dark spots and marks. They can also help address sun damage, which can create new dark marks or make existing blemish marks worse.

Additionally, while you can get prescription retinoids or tretinoin, which can help address red blemish marks and other types of pigmentation issues, there are over-the-counter options. 

Using my Retinol Reform as part of your evening routine can help support a youthful-looking complexion and reduce the appearance of imperfections like blemish marks, uneven skin tone, and texture, as well as visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

Moisturize + Protect

Use a hydrating moisture to strengthen your skin barrier and help prevent future breakouts. Finding one that uses brightening ingredients like Niacinamide can also help to address your blemish marks.

Finish up by protecting your skin from further damage with a high-SPFsunscreen.

Additional Treatments

In addition to your daily routine, you can add some specific treatments periodically to help boost your results. Any kind of AHA, like lactic acid, can be beneficial to issues with skin texture and tone, and BHAs, like salicylic acid, can help balance your skin’s oil production and address any breakouts you may be struggling with.

I also recommend working a little light therapy into your routine with my Déesse PRO LED Light Mask when your skin could use some extra love!

In Conclusion

Addressing blemish marks can be challenging, especially if you feel like you’ve already put a lot of effort into getting rid of their predecessor, breakouts. It can also be a trickier complexion concern to address because it often takes consistent use over a long period of time for topical products to really show you how well they’re working on your skin. 

While professional treatments are also an option, dedication and consistency in your skincare routine can be effective too!


Acne Scarring — Pathogenesis, Evaluation, and Treatment Options — National Library of Medicine

Acne — Cystic On the Face | MedlinePlus

Role of Cultured Skin Fibroblasts in Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery | National Library of Medicine


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