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How to Reduce Redness from Acne

Acne is a common condition that affects people of all ages. When the skin’s pores clogged with oil, dead cells, and bacteria, the area might turn inflamed and infected. Acne can result in pus-filled nodules that are extremely painful, not to mention embarrassing. Dealing with acne might leave people feeling self-conscious and lacking in confidence.

One of the biggest challenges is the condition’s longevity. The signs of acne can still be present even after an outbreak has healed. Unfortunately, acne often leaves behind persistent redness and scarring. Pimple redness results in an uneven complexion that can last for years if not treated properly.

What is acne redness

Acne redness is a skin condition that causes red, inflamed (swollen), so they tend to be sore or painful. These inflamed pimples contain pus, dead skin cells and excess oil. They are common on your face, back, chest and shoulders.

What causes acne redness

The causes of acne are multifactorial, but on a rudimentary level, typically what happens is an overabundance of sebum (oil) builds up within the pore and as it mixes with dead skin and debris in the pore lining, it forms a thick, waxy clog. This congestion creates the perfect environment for acne-triggering bacteria to flourish, resulting in a pimple.

Other factors that can make acne prone skin worse include: using products that are not right for your skin type and/or contain irritating ingredients, not proper skin care routine (i.e. falling asleep with your makeup/sunscreen on), stress, certain dietary sensitivities and hormonal fluctuations.


The main reason for acne redness is that individual spots are often red in colour. The most minor types of spot – whiteheads and blackheads are not characterised by redness, but papules, pustules, nodules and cysts usually are.

The reason for this is that these types of spot form when plugged follicles become infected with bacteria. Infected spots are inflamed and tender, which is why they take on a reddish appearance.

Acne scarring

In addition to spots, skin redness can be caused by acne scarring. Permanent acne scars are more likely to happen in people who have cysts, the most severe acne. This type of scarring primarily gives the skin an uneven, bumpy appearance. However, sometimes it can cause discolouration called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is more common in people with darker skin. 

People with acne prone skin also experience a more temporary type of scarring, where dark patches appear on the skin in the place of affected skin. Depending on your skin tone, these patches can be pink, red, purple, black or brown. They will usually fade within a few months or years, although sometimes they can be persistent.

Acne treatments

Topical acne treatment can be quite harsh on the skin, and sometimes can cause irritation, skin redness, as well as dryness and peeling especially for sensitive skin. The good news is, not everyone will experience these side effects, and those who do should find that they resolve after treatment has finished.

Tips on how to reduce acne redness faster


Get yourself a super-simple, fragrance-free, non comedogenic cleanser to combat skin redness-inducing breakouts. Use it to gently wash away dirt, oil, and make up just twice a day. Over-cleansing can irritate the skin and strip nourishing oils which can actually make breakouts worse.

Pimple patches

Consider pimple patches or stickers. If the pimple redness is limited to one or two areas, you can purchase pimple patches designed to minimize pimple’s appearance. Most contain salicylic, niacinamide, vitamin C, or some combination of ingredients designed to reduce the inflammatory acne appearance and promote healing.

Cold compress

A dash of ice cube is your best bet for soothing redness, swelling, and pimple size. Cover ice cube directly with a clean cloth, then hold it to the affected area for up to 10 minutes to minimize redness and reduce inflammation on surrounding skin. This is particularly helpful for angry pimple or rosacea flares.


Use a lightweight, non comedogenic moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out. Some key words to look out for when purchasing include hypoallergenic in a lotion or gel formulation that usually contains moisturizers, such as hyaluronic acid.

Use salicylic acid

There is nothing like salicylic treatments for acne lesions. Apply topical salicylic acid to red, irritated blemishes.

Salicylic acid is a peeling agent that can also reduce inflammation and kill bacteria when applied at percentages ranging from 0.5 to 5 percent, which can help to reduce acne redness. Just make sure to use it sparingly to avoid irritation.

Apply sunscreen

No one wants sunburn on top of a inflammatory acne. Applying sunscreen also helps prevent premature wrinkles and skin cancer.

Professional Treatments for Acne Redness


If you experience uneven pigmentation and wrinkles on top of red marks and acne scars, you should consider a microneedling acne treatment.

Microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that uses tiny needles to stimulate the skin’s collagen production. You can use it on any facial area, and the treatment works for all skin tones and all skin types including sensitive skin.

Chemical peel

Chemical peel helps increase cell turnover, which get rid of redness and acne scars. Since physical exfoliation can irritate your skin, it might be best to consider chemical exfoliation.

Look for products with gentle acids such as glycolic acid to break the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, allowing you to wash them away. This facial treatment uses acids derived from fruits to exfoliate your skin. Chemical peels minimize acne and acne scars while effectively reducing redness and inflammation.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatment is a non-ablative treatment option for reduces redness of acne. It uses an intense but gentle beam of light to remove acne redness without damaging surrounding tissue. Pain and recovery time are typically minimal.

Redness on the skin like acne marks and red scars can be improved by using FDA approved Vbeam Perfecta pulsed-dye laser or Pico Gold Toning Laser to target red blood vessels under the skin. In addition, this vascular laser is also highly useful for rejuvenation of the skin, improving texture, colour and fine lines.

Other Treatments To Reduce Redness From Acne

Tea tree oil

An essential oil used as a natural treatment for acne, reducing bacteria, soothing inflammation and skin healing.

For usage, you must first dilute it in a few drops of a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil. You can then use this oil as a spot treatment for your pimples. However, be careful as tea tree oil can cause skin dryness and redness if you use it undiluted.

Aloe vera

It has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also be an effective natural treatment for acne lesions and adult acne, resulting in a reduction of inflammation and redness.

Available in several formulations, including as a gel, cream, or cleanser. Aloe vera is applied directly to the skin and soothing inflammation and is safe to use in combination with OTC or prescription treatments.


Add a product with niacinamide into your daily routine. Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 that has been shown for acne prone skin to reduce acne-related inflammation and redness. You can usually find it in serum or cream forms for topical application.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a very effective acne treatment and can be used all over or as a spot treatment. It can effectively kill bacteria-causing acne, regulating oil production to prevent clogged pores, reduce redness and inflammation. 

Benzoyl peroxide can be found within gels, creams and cleansers. It is available in strengths of 2.5%, 5.0% and 10%.

To avoid further irritating your skin, read the product label carefully and follow all instructions. It is recommended to perform a patch test first to determine any sensitivities.

Salicylic Acid 

An antibacterial, and another valued acne-fighting staple that has been shown to soothe the irritation and discomfort caused by acne. It helps skin shed dead pores from the top layer, and reduces inflammation and redness from pimple. It is also effective in reducing oil production which is a key contributor to acne breakouts. Skin will also appear smoother with reduced pores.

You can opt for cleansers, toners, creams or lotions with a concentration ranging from 0.05–5%. As with benzoyl peroxide, it is advised to check first for any sensitivities. Salicylic acid should not be combined with retinoids such as tretinoin or adapalene as this can cause irritation. 


Retinoids are another classification of acne-fighting medication for acne prone skin that treat redness by clearing and preventing clog pores.

Retinoids, such as topical tretinoin, are commonly used in combination with other acne medications like benzoyl peroxide to allow medications to better penetrate inflamed follicles more effectively.

Oral treatment

Oral antibiotics (usually from the tetracycline family) and oral isotretinoin, are other prescription medications used to fight severe acne. Both target redness from acne as well as breakouts by reducing inflammation and killing acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface.


Redness from acne is a result of inflammation. Treating acne early and with the right medication can heal breakouts and prevent future ones.

Standard acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid are highly effective in treating acne and the accompanying redness. There are many options to choose from with OTC formulations. If you do not see an improvement in your acne, see a professional who can prescribe a stronger treatment. They may also prescribe additional medication to offer greater results.

Home remedies may reduce redness from acne but this should be a short-term solution only. Oral and topical acne products are designed to target acne with specific ingredients that are known to treat the inflammation and redness.


Does acne redness go away?

If you have redness on your face that you got from active acne breakout, it should eventually fade, but it can be resolved more speedily when dermatological treatments are used. However, it may take several weeks or months to fade. Talk to your doctor, who might have advice on what you can do.

At what age is acne the worst?

Acne is a common issue for many people, especially for teenagers and young adults in their 20s. Some have mild symptoms, while others can have very severe issues. Acne effects around 90% of adolescents with the prime age across all genders being the teenage years of 13-25 years old.


Clinic Admin