Pockmarks: Things you need to know

Pockmarks: Things you need to know

Pockmarks are deep stains on the skin that generally do not go away by themselves. They are mostly caused by extreme acne, but they may also be the result of chickenpox or skin infections.

There are a variety of medications and home remedies that can help reduce the appearance of the wounds and enhance the skin’s appearance and feeling.

We describe some of the various causes of pockmarks and the different approaches to handle them in this article.

What are pockmarks?

Pockmarks may look like indentations in the skin and occur because of damage to deeper skin layers.

Pockmarks are blemishes with a concave outline that may appear like holes or indentations in the skin, which are often called pick marks or acne scars. They occur when the skin’s deeper layers become damaged.

Extra collagen is produced as these deeper layers heal. Scar tissue that does not complement the rest of the skin may be left behind by this extra collagen.

Pockmarks tend to stand out and be visible from the rest of the face. Even a few can offer an uneven look to the skin, which may make some individuals self-conscious.


The ability to cause pockmark scars is all due to illnesses or diseases that cause blemishes on the skin.


Acne is one of the more prevalent causes of pockmarks. For most people, acne is a common occurrence, especially during the hormonal changes that come with puberty.

During this time, the skin can develop extra sebum, which clogs the pores and causes zits and pimples. Popping zits and pimples will later lead to scars from pockmarks.

Extreme cases of acne, even if a person allows the acne to heal on its own, can also cause pockmarks.

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases used to be a common source of pockmarks, including smallpox. Although smallpox has mostly vanished, the characteristic scars may also be caused by similar problems, such as chickenpox.

Chickenpox produces tiny, itchy blisters that occur in the body. A pockmark can be left by scratching the scabs until they heal fully.

Other infections

Other infections can cause wounds that can leave a pockmark behind, such as those from the bacteria staphylococcus or streptococcus.

In a hair follicle, where it can cause a boil, these infections can occur. Also, a recent cut can become contaminated.


For pockmarks, there are several therapies, each with different outcomes. Some types of skin may be less able to handle certain treatments, so a person should discuss with a doctor their options.

Chemical peel

A lady undergoing chemical peels
Regular chemical peels may help to reduce scarring.

To reduce the scarring, many people with pockmarks opt to undergo a chemical peel. There is a layer of acid added to the face during a chemical peel. To achieve similar effects, an enzyme can also be used.

The outer layers of the skin are dissolved by these procedures and caused to regenerate. Following the peel, the skin may be red and irritated and can shed.

To be successful, chemical peels may need to be performed on a regular basis, but they typically result in even, supple skin and a significant decrease in visible pockmarks.


Without using chemicals, dermabrasion sessions produce similar outcomes as chemical peels. In order to scrape away the top layers, a thin, spinning wire brush is passed over the affected skin.

Depending on the size of the area which requires care, this dermabrasion or scraping is performed either under local or general anesthesia. After that, the skin is left to heal.

Dermabrasion can help to make the skin appear evener and decrease the signs of pockmarks.

Dermabrasion can increase the risk of developing new scars or enlarged pores in some cases. It can also put a person at risk for skin infections because deeper layers of the dermis are missing.


By scraping the outermost layers of skin, microdermabrasion procedures again aim to eliminate pockmarks.

Skin care specialists will use abrasive materials, such as tiny crystals of bicarbonate or aluminum oxide, to clean away the outer layers of skin instead of using a chemical or wire brush for this process. For small surface scars, this works best and also involves several treatments.

Dermal fillers

To treat pockmarks, physicians can also prescribe facial fillers. These are injections of products which raise the pockmarks on the face to the level of the rest of the skin.

Various products, including hyaluronic acids and calcium hydroxylapatite, are on the market and can be used.

Only Bellafill has been approved for the treatment of acne scars by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This item has tiny polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) microspheres within a smooth collagen gel base.

Depending on the substance, the effect of dermal fillers is temporary but typically lasts from a few months to a year. Bellafill usually lasts for five years.

Fractional laser

In the scars themselves, fractional laser treatment attempts to promote regeneration. Laser light is aimed into the pockmarks of the scar tissue.

This burns the scarred skin’s outer layer and encourages new development of the cells. Sometimes, pockmarks are significantly less noticeable after a time of healing.

Ablative resurfacing of lasers

Ablative laser resurfacing is an invasive type of laser treatment that, using a laser, removes layers of skin. Typically, the procedure involves a few weeks of medical attention and rehabilitation, but without any further procedures, the findings will last for years.

There are some dangers of ablative laser resurfacing, including improvements in skin tone, redness, and swelling. Ablative laser treatment can cause acne or scarring worse in some cases.

Microneedling Microneedling

Collagen-induction or microneedling therapy is a procedure that involves using tiny needles to puncture the skin where the pockmark is. The skin develops more collagen to fill in the pockmarks as these punctures heal.

Every few weeks, repeat treatments may be needed, and meaningful results are usually noticeable within a year.

Home remedies

Although there is no guarantee that pockmarks will go away with any home treatment, many individuals find that one or more home treatments can make their scars less visible.

These home remedies can also be found at a health store or in medications that are over-the-counter (OTC).

Moisturizing oils

Some natural oils also may reduce signs of scarring, such as pockmarks. These oils also contain natural antioxidants or other compounds that can help to heal wounds or reduce scar tissue.

Oils may be used, after washing the infected skin, as moisturizers. For certain individuals, certain oils can make acne worse, so it is best to test the oil on a small area of skin before regularly using it.

Oils and butters that are potentially beneficial include:

  • cocoa butter
  • shea butter
  • jojoba oil
  • hempseed oil
  • rosehip seed oil
  • olive oil

OTC treatments

The first treatment strategy people use to eliminate their pockmarks is mostly OTC creams. These creams primarily function by hydrating the skin and relieving symptoms, such as redness or itching.

Fresh skin growth may also be enhanced by certain low-strength peels and masks and help minimize signs of scarring. In order to achieve results, they also need continuous usage for a long time.

Unwanted side effects can also be caused by repeated use of these chemicals, so a person should consult a medical professional before using them.

Facial massage

Although it is not a direct treatment for scars, it can help to support other types of treatment by having a facial massage.

Facial massage can help boost circulation in the skin and eliminate contaminants, either by manual stimulation or with the assistance of a massage wand, which may make other treatments more successful.

Lavender essential oil

It can help wounds heal faster by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the other oils on the list above. Research has found that essential lavender oil is known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and in certain individuals it can also help minimize scar tissue.

In order to see whether lavender oil can reduce scar tissue, more research on humans is needed, but it can still help reduce inflammation and skin bacteria.


While there are still no standard pockmark treatments that have been shown to function in all cases, people who want them removed have several treatment options available.

The safest way to handle troublesome pockmarks is to consult closely with a dermatologist or skin care expert to determine the correct technique or treatment for a particular situation.