How To Reduce Acne Redness 

Acne is commonly associated with spots and oily skin. However, as with anyone with acne, redness is a significant factor. If you have moderate to severe acne on your face and are experiencing facial redness, you may find this as upsetting as your spots.

Do you know what causes acne redness? The primary cause of acne redness is that individual spots are frequently red in colour. Whiteheads and blackheads aren't characterised by redness, but papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts are.

This article may be helpful if you have acne and redness on your skin.1


Almost everyone has at least a few breakouts during their teenage years. Who will experience more severe acne outbreaks is impossible to predict. However, it can sometimes be devastating for the patient because it affects visible body parts and often causes facial redness. Most people's acne usually disappears by the time they are in their thirties, but some still experience acne in their forties and fifties.

Understanding acne

Most people have heard of the word "acne," but few know what it is, so let us explain.

Hair follicles beneath the skin become clogged, which leads to acne, a common skin condition. Dead skin cells and sebum- an oil that helps prevent skin from drying out, clogging pores, and causing outbreaks of lesions, also known as pimples. The face is where the outbreaks most frequently appear, but they can also show up on the back, chest, and shoulders.2

Types of spots

Acne causes six different spots:

  • Blackheads are small black or yellowish bumps that form on the skin; they are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces colour
  • Whiteheads resemble blackheads in appearance, but they are firmer and do not empty when squeezed
  • Papules are small red bumps that can be tender or painful
  • Pustules resemble papules but have a white tip in the centre caused by pus buildup
  • Nodules are large hard lumps that form beneath the skin's surface and can be painful3

Common causes of acne

Although many different factors can contribute to acne, the following are some typical ones:

  • High or excessive oil production within the pore
  • Dead skin cells accumulate in the pore
  • Bacterial growth within the pore

Although some elements could make your acne worse, such as

  • Hormones- Acne may develop as a result of an increase in androgens, or male sex hormones. These typically rise during puberty in both boys and girls, causing the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. Pregnancy-related hormonal changes can also bring on acne
  • Family background-If either of your parents had acne, researchers think you might be more likely to have it too
  • Medications- Some medicines, including hormone-containing, corticosteroid-containing, and lithium-containing ones can bring on acne
  • Age- Acne can affect anyone at any age, but teens are more likely to experience it4

Symptoms of acne

Acne is most commonly found on the face and shoulders. It can also affect the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks. Among the skin changes are:

  • Skin bumps crusting
  • Cysts
  • Papules (small red bumps) 
  • Pustules (small red bumps containing white or yellow pus) 
  • Skin eruptions which are surrounded by redness
  • Scarring carring of the skin
  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Blackheads (comedones)

Acne can be diagnosed by your doctor by looking at your skin. In most cases, testing is unnecessary. Bacterial culture may be performed to rule out infection if large pus bumps persist or with certain patterns of acne.5

What causes acne to become red? 

Is acne supposed to be red or there are some other factors, which cause our pimples to become red? The main reason for this is that excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells push deeper into the skin and cause inflammation which is known as inflammatory acne (redness and swelling). A papule is a medical term for this type of acne blemish. They feel hard and sometimes papules can cause pain. The difference between inflammatory acne and non-inflammatory acne is that

Pimples caused by inflammatory acne are deep in the skin and contain pus. They are sore or painful because they are inflamed (swollen). An example of inflammatory acne is cystic acne.

Noninflammatory acne blemishes are closer to the skin's surface and are usually not swollen or painful. Comedonal acne is a common type of noninflammatory acne (whiteheads and blackheads).

How to o reduce educe acne redness 

There are many things to avoid  when you have acne. It is important to know that different types of acne, require different treatments, but when we talk about redness, inflammatory acne comes to  mind first, because it is the main reason for acne redness. 

Your home skincare routine can make a difference, so try to do the following at all times:

  • Washing your skin too frequently can irritate instead, aim to wash affected skin twice a day
  • Use gentle soaps or cleansers and lukewarm, not hot, water
  • Avoid scratching, squeezing, or picking at your blemishes

You can also try applying ice or a cold compress to your skin to relieve redness and inflammation. If you're going to do this, gently cleanse your skin first, then wrap the ice or ice pack in a clean cloth and apply it to your skin.1

There are a few topical treatments which include azelaic zelaic acid, benzoyl  peroxide, etc, which we will talk about later, in the treatment of acne. 

Things to consider to avoid acne redness 

Facial redness can be managed by following a few steps and these  self-help techniques could be beneficial:

  • Wash affected skin areas no more than twice a day. Washing frequently can irritate the skin and aggravate symptoms
  • Wash the affected area with lukewarm water and a mild soap or cleanser. Extremely hot or cold water can aggravate acne
  • Do not try to "clean out" or squeeze blackheads. This can aggravate them and result in permanent scarring
  • Use as little make-up and cosmetics as possible
  • Avoid oil-based make-up, skincare, and suncare products (which are sometimes labelled "comedogenic"). Water-based non-comedogenic products are less likely to clog your skin's pores
  • Remove all make-up before going to bed
  • If you have dry skin, use a fragrance-free water-based emollient
  • Regular exercise will not cure your acne, but it will improve your mood and self-esteem. Shower as soon as you finish exercising because sweat can irritate your acne
  • Wash your hair regularly and avoid letting it fall across your face

Acne cannot be cured, but it can be managed with treatment. If you have mild acne, you should seek advice from a pharmacist. Pharmacies sell a variety of creams, lotions, and gels for treating spots.3


Main complications from acne, can be acne scars and hyperpigmentation. 

Acne scars- Scarring can occur with any type of acne spot, but it is more common when the most serious types of spots (nodules and cysts) burst and damage nearby skin.

Scarring can also occur if you pick or squeeze your spots, so avoid doing so.

Acne scars are classified into three types:

  • Ice pick scars are small, deep holes in the skin's surface that appear to have been punctured with a sharp object
  • Rolling scars are caused by bands of scar tissue forming beneath the skin, giving the skin's surface a rolling and uneven appearance
  • Boxcar scars are skin depressions or craters that are round or oval in shape

If you develop acne scars, we suggest you seek advice from a dermatologist who might suggest laser treatment. 

Hyperpigmentation  - Acne hyperpigmentation occurs when a dark spot appears in the place of a previously gone pimple. Darker skin tones are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation scars. Dark spots appear when skin cells produce an excessive amount of melanin.

 Acne hyperpigmentation may fade over time, but if the original spots were deep, the hyperpigmentation may be permanent. Although some topical therapies and laser treatment can speed up the process, it can take months or years.

 Hyperpigmentation acne differs from other types of acne in that it appears as a dark spot or patch on the skin rather than a raised pimple. Other types of acne manifest as inflamed lesions known as comedones.6

Treatment and prevention for acne 

Acne treatment varies  according to severity. Acne symptoms can improve after months of treatment.

Prescription acne medications include

  • Topical retinoids-work by exfoliating the skin's surface to remove dead skin cells, which helps stop them from accumulating inside hair follicles
  • Benzolyn peroxide- acts as an antiseptic to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin's surface
  • Topical antibiotics aid  in killing skin bacteria that can infect clogged hair follicles. They can be applied once or twice a day as a lotion or gel
  • Azelaic acid-If the side effects of benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids are particularly irritating or painful, azelaic acid is frequently used as an alternative treatment for acne.Azelaic acid works by removing dead skin cells and killing bacteria

A month of azelaic acid use is usually required before your acne improves.

  •  Antibiotics pills-To treat more severe acne, antibiotic tablets (oral antibiotics) are typically used in combination with a topical treatment
  • Combined  oral contraceptive pill for women - Hormonal therapies can often help women with acne, especially if the acne flares up around their periods or is linked to hormonal conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome

If you have severe acne or prescription medications are not working, your doctor can refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist).3

Laser treatment and other light therapies may seem like the perfect acne treatment. Just beam light to make the acne disappear. It can reduce facial redness and acne scar. There are different laser treatments and types available for acne scars, facial redness, pimples nodules, etc.7

When to seek medical attention 

If you have mild acne, talk to your pharmacist about treatment options.

If these do not control your acne or if it is causing you great distress, consult your doctor.

If you have moderate to severe acne or develop nodules or cysts, you should see a doctor right away because they must be treated properly to avoid scarring.

Resist the urge to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can result in permanent scarring.

Treatments can take up to three months to work, so don't expect to see results right away. When they do begin to work, the results are usually positive.3


Everyone who has acne has experienced facial redness at some point in their lives, for some people, acne can result in acne scars or hyperpigmentation, and managing inflammatory acne can be draining and difficult.  Some people believe acne is a minor issue, but it can harm  our mental health and self-esteem, so it must be properly treated and managed.


  1. How to reduce redness from acne [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from:
  2. Acne: Who gets and causes [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from:
  3. Acne [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 30]. Available from:
  4. Nancy Garrick DD. Acne [Internet]. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 2016 [cited 2022 Nov 29]. Available from:
  5. [cited 2022 Nov 30]. Available from:
  6. Al-Qarqaz F, Bodoor K, Baba A, Al-Yousef A, Muhaidat J, Alshiyab D. Post-acne hyperpigmentation: Evaluation of risk factors and the use of artificial neural network as a predictive classifier. Dermatol Reports [Internet]. 2021 Oct 6 [cited 2022 Dec 4];13(3):8223. Available from:
  7. Lasers and lights: How well do they treat acne? [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 4]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Mariam Nikolaishvili

Bachelor of medicine, Tbilisi State University, Georgia

I am Mariam Nikolaishvili, a sixth-year medical student. I decided to become a doctor when I was 5 years old, and I haven’t changed my mind since. Being a dermatologist and helping people with various skin conditions is my primary objective. I chose to participate in the Klarity internship because I have always loved to write and wanted to learn more about writing for the medical field.

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