Topical Treatments

What Is It?

A variety of different topical over-the-counter and prescription treatments are offered as a possible treatment for very shallow acne scars. These include Mederma®, vitamin E, retinoids, and human synthetic EGF.

Good or Excellent Response

Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
12% of patients achieved a good (>50%) or excellent (>75%) improvement in scarring after 12 sessions

Moderate Response

Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
49% of patients achieved at least a moderate (>25%) improvement in scarring after 12 sessions
  1. Dréno, B. et al. Long-term effectiveness and safety of up to 48 weeks’ treatment with topical adapalene 0.3%/benzoyl peroxide 2.5% gel in the prevention and reduction of atrophic acne scars in moderate and severe facial acne. Am J Clin Dermatol 20, 725–732 (2019).
  2. Afra, T. P., Razmi T, M., Narang, T., Dogra, S. & Kumar, A. Topical tazarotene gel, 0.1%, as a novel treatment approach for atrophic postacne scars. JAMA Facial Plast Surg 21, 125–132 (2019).
  3. Loss, M. J. et al. Adapalene 0.3% gel shows efficacy for the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 8, 245–257 (2018).
  4. Dréno, B. et al. Prevention and reduction of atrophic acne scars with adapalene 0.3%/benzoyl peroxide 2.5% gel in subjects with moderate or severe facial acne: results of a 6-month randomized, vehicle-controlled trial using intra-individual comparison. Am J Clin Dermatol 19, 275–286 (2018).
  5. Stoddard, M. A., Herrmann, J., Moy, L. & Moy, R. Improvement of atrophic acne scars in skin of color using topical synthetic epidermal growth factor (EGF) serum: a pilot study. J Drugs Dermatol 16, 322–326 (2017).
  6. Dreno, B., Tan, J., Rivier, M., Martel, P. & Bissonnette, R. Adapalene 0.1%/benzoyl peroxide 2.5% gel reduces the risk of atrophic scar formation in moderate inflammatory acne: a split-face randomized controlled trial. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 31, 737–742 (2017).
  7. Seidel, R. & Moy, R. L. Improvement in atrophic acne scars using topical synthetic epidermal growth factor (EGF) serum: a pilot study. J Drugs Dermatol 14, 1005–1010 (2015).
  8. Chandrashekar, B. S., Ashwini, K. R., Vasanth, V. & Navale, S. Retinoic acid and glycolic acid combination in the treatment of acne scars. Indian Dermatol Online J 6, 84–88 (2015).
  9. Dreno, B. et al. Combined 0.1% retinaldehyde/ 6% glycolic acid cream in prophylaxis and treatment of acne scarring. Dermatology 214, 260–267 (2007).
  10. Chung, V. Q., Kelley, L., Marra, D. & Jiang, S. B. Onion extract gel versus petrolatum emollient on new surgical scars: prospective double-blinded study. Dermatol Surg 32, 193–197 (2006).
  11. Erbağci, Z. & Akçali, C. Biweekly serial glycolic acid peels vs. long-term daily use of topical low-strength glycolic acid in the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Int J Dermatol 39, 789–794 (2000).
  12. Jackson, B. A. & Shelton, A. J. Pilot study evaluating topical onion extract as treatment for postsurgical scars. Dermatol Surg 25, 267–269 (1999).
  13. Baumann, L. S. & Spencer, J. The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars. Dermatol Surg 25, 311–315 (1999).
  14. Phillips, T. J., Gerstein, A. D. & Lordan, V. A randomized controlled trial of hydrocolloid dressing in the treatment of hypertrophic scars and keloids. Dermatol Surg 22, 775–778 (1996).
  15. Harris, D. W., Buckley, C. C., Ostlere, L. S. & Rustin, M. H. Topical retinoic acid in the treatment of fine acne scarring. Br J Dermatol 125, 81–82 (1991).
  16. Janssen de Limpens, A. M. The local treatment of hypertrophic scars and keloids with topical retinoic acid. Br J Dermatol 103, 319–323 (1980).

Side Effects

Low
Low side effects and adverse reactions

Reviews

3.6
1118 Reviews