Acne Scars 101: How to Get Smooth Skin Again
Just like any scrape from a fall can leave a scar, so can our acne. It’s already frustrating enough to have acne in the first place, but when those blemishes scar and potentially leave a permanent mark, that can lead to even greater dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. The problem isn’t just why these blemishes scar, but how they scar. There are many different types of acne scars, and not every person’s marks are going to look the same. This means that each treatment sought out for acne scars will be unique to the individual.
Having these marks on your face can make you feel self-conscious about the way you look. It can impact your confidence, leading to poor mental health and negatively impacting your day-to-day life. But don’t lose hope when it comes to your acne scars. With all of the advancements in skin care, there are now many options for getting rid of or helping to fade acne scars.
Reasons for Acne Scars
Acne is an inflammatory condition. When a blemish forms, the pore swells and breaks the follicle wall. Most cases are usually minor and don’t lead to anything permanent. Others may cause a deeper break in the wall of the pore, causing infected substances to come in contact with the surrounding skin and cause more damage. This occurrence can lead to scarring and disruption in the smoothness of your skin.
Once you have a scar, it’s natural to want to pick at it. But doing so can make the situation worse, potentially leading to another cyst forming or making the current scar even larger. Additionally, as much as you’ll want to scrub the scars away, overwashing can reduce the elasticity of your skin and even make the scar more prominent.
Types of Acne Scars
Generally, dark spots and red spots are common after a blemish goes away. Usually, these manifestations are not permanent and will naturally fade over time. For the blemishes that do leave a more permanent mark, there are two major categories of acne scars that develop. Each of these, along with any of their subcategories, are caused by a range of different factors. Knowing which type of acne scars you have will help guide you toward the proper treatment.
Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars
Hypertrophic and keloid scars are raised scar tissue that occur over a previous blemish. These occur when too much collagen is produced during the healing process, resulting in excess tissue. While hypertrophic scars will appear the same size and shape as the blemish that created them, keloid scars will become larger than the original area in which they formed. These types of scars are more often found on the back, chest, shoulders, or jawline.
Atrophic or Depressed Scars
Opposite to the raised nature of the hypertrophic or keloid scars, atrophic scars are often flat or indented marks. They are caused by a loss of tissue in the aftermath of a blemish. Oftentimes, these are caused by cystic acne. There are a few different subcategories of atrophic or depressed scars.
Boxcar scars are larger depressions, similar to scars left from chickenpox. These often form in places where the skin is thicker, such as the jaw and lower cheek area. A smaller version of these is referred to as the ice-pick scars. These are more commonly found on the cheeks and are often harder to treat. Lastly, there are rolling scars, which vary in their depth and leave a highly uneven appearance to the skin.
Preventing Acne Scars
When you delay acne treatment, you increase the risk of scarring. Finding a treatment that is successful in minimizing your breakouts will result in fewer scars, as well as a lower chance of any potential scars lasting for a longer period of time.
Along with treatments, there are other preventative steps you can take to avoid worsened acne and scars. As mentioned before, it is best to refrain from picking at your blemishes. This will only irritate those spots and make it more likely for a scar to form. It’s also important to be conscious of what touches your face. Avoid using any oily products on your skin, such as certain sunscreens and cosmetics. Instead, look for an oil-free, water-based moisturizer with SPF to help protect your skin and prevent oil build up.
If you don’t have aggressive acne and scarring, it’s possible that natural remedies or over-the-counter treatments will be right for you. Even if you have more severe acne, it’s a good idea to try out these methods before turning to any dermatological procedures. However, it will be beneficial to consult with a dermatologist to assess your skin and help guide you towards the best treatment and prevention options.
It’s likely that if you already have developed scars, natural remedies won’t be very effective in treating them. There is really no harm in giving these a try, but it’s important to have realistic expectations when doing so.
Blackseed oil is anti-inflammatory, and has been found to have antibacterial and anti-viral properties. Some studies have shown that it can aid in the wound healing process, as well as help to even out pigmentation. Common home remedies like honey and aloe vera have also been known to help fight infection and reduce inflammation.
There are a range of different over-the-counter treatments that can be found to help treat acne breakouts and scarring. Many products include benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to clean pores and remove excess oil from the skin. To help get rid of dark spots quicker, medicated dark spot removers with hydroquinone can be very effective. When it comes to treating scars, alpha hydroxy acids are something to look for in your over-the-counter products. These acids help stimulate the growth of new skin, creating a smoother texture and appearance. They may also help reduce inflammation and give the impression of smaller pores.
It may be helpful to use multiple products at once. By combining different active ingredients, preferably one in the morning and another one at night, it can help to treat especially stubborn acne. Make sure that you are cleaning your skin twice a day, regardless of the variety of products you choose to use.
If you have tried every over-the-counter or natural remedy you could find and still aren’t seeing results, it may be time to turn to dermatological procedures to help reduce or remove your acne scars.
Here is a list of common, effective procedures:
This procedure, also known as collagen induction therapy, pricks at the skin with very small needles. Doing this stimulates the growth of new collagen, resulting in a reduced appearance of scars.
This treatment can help to lower the depth of boxcar scars. It uses a tool that evens out the skin and resurfaces it. Due to the severity of the types of scarring this treats, it usually takes more than one visit to start seeing results.
If you’re looking for a less-intensive treatment than dermabrasion, this procedure may be right for you. A device is used to remove surface skin, essentially creating an effective exfoliation that brightens and evens out the skin.
Laser treatments help to reduce redness and scarring by removing the outer layer of skin and inducing the production of new collagen.
During this process, a solution is used to even out the skin. It is best for surface-level scarring.
Punch Excision or Grafting
Punch excision is used to cut the scar out of your skin. Punch grafting cuts the scar out and instead of simply sewing it back up, it will replace the removed skin with skin from another part of the body.
This treatment is used to fill in atrophic acne scars. Your doctor will inject a substance into the effective area. In order to be continually effective, this treatment needs to be repeated every few months or so, due to the fact that the substance will eventually be absorbed by your skin.
Find What’s Best for You
It may take some time to experiment with different products and procedures to figure out what works best for you, so be patient. Of course, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming, but it will be worth it. Don’t give up on your scars because there are many options for treating and fading these marks. It’s not guaranteed that they will completely go away, but even reducing the number of scars you have can have a positive impact on your attitude and the way you see yourself. Combining preventative measures, along with treatments, can give you clear skin you can feel confident in.