A whopping 45 to 54 percent of today’s adult population experience persistent breakouts. Among which acne scars are most commonly found in adults. So remember if you are experiencing acne or its scars you are definitely not alone. The good news is that there are numerous face wash options, medications, and topicals available today than back in your high school days. The downside? You may have some leftover scars.
You might be having some kind of skin issues, but you are ok with it. But if not, there are ways to minimize the look of those scars.
Here is more on the various types of acne scars and what treatments are available.
Why Do You Have Acne Scars?
A scar is a mark left on your skin after a wound or injury has healed. In fact, scars are a natural part of the healing process. Most will fade, although they never completely disappear. A combination of factors causes acne. But you would to get rid of acne scars at the earliest.
Scarring is a normal part of your body’s natural healing process after any tissue is damaged. When your skin is wounded, the tissues in the area break, which causes a protein called collagen to be released. Collagen is a protein that builds up where the tissue is damaged. It helps to heal and strengthen your wound.
In simple terms, a scar results from the biological process of wound repair in your skin and other tissues. Most wounds, except for minor ones, often result in some degree of scarring. Scars can result from diseases, accidents, skin conditions such as acne, or surgeries.
New collagen continues forming for several months around your wound, and the blood supply increases, causing the scar to become raised and lumpy.
Do you know that scarring has an emotional effect? Meaning scars can affect you both physically and psychologically. A scar, particularly if it is visible on your face, it can be very distressing. The situation can be even worse if you feel you are being stared at.
As a result, you can avoid meeting people because of your appearance. This could lead to easily becoming socially isolated. This can lead to depression as well. See a doctor if you feel your scars are making you depressed or if they are in any way affecting your daily activities.
Formation of Acne Scars
The valleys and peaks can have variety. Acne scars are very challenging to treat. They are even more challenging to treat once they have aged. Acne often appears when your pores or hair follicles get clogged by oil and dead skin cells. Then bacteria can start to grow, causing inflammation, irritation and red bumps.
Acne scars can result from damage to your skin following repeated inflammation from acne cysts. If your pimples keep popping, it can make the process worse. But acne can cause scarring even without pimples popping. How big your scar will be left after a blemish will depend on the depth of the breakout. As your pores become clogged with oil and form a blemish, the pore may swell, thus collapsing the follicle wall.
The depth of your resulting lesion determines the severity of the scar. If you have a shallow lesion, it usually heals quickly and leaves little or no scarring at all. On the other hand, deeper lesions spread to nearby tissue, causing a more pronounced scar.
Types of Acne Scars
Basically, there are two categories of acne scars – raised acne scars and depressed acne scars. You are likely to have depressed acne scars as a result of the loss of tissue. On the contrary, raised acne scars result from the overproduction of tissue. Depressed acne scars are often the most common type. So you now know that depressed acne scars are common.
The following are examples of depressed acne scars or atrophic acne scars:
Ice-pick scars. These are narrow, deep, and pitted scars. Deep indentations are commonly seen in the cheeks. They might look like a scar made from a tiny ice pick. They are, in fact, one of the more challenging scars to treat.
Boxcar scars. They are wide, having sharply defined edges. These scars are not as narrow as ice pick scars. They are usually a wider depression in your skin that can have more defined edges. They often resemble a chickenpox scar. Wider scars may be harder to treat than narrow scars.
Rolling scars. These are more like boxcar scars but have sloping edges. Rolling scars are often the widest of the lot and may not have distinct edges. Instead, they generally have varying depths, curved edges, and a more irregular look.
Atrophic scars. These can be flat, thin or depressed scars.
For raised acne, hypertrophic acne is the only example. These are lumpy, thick scars that occur due to the overproduction of skin repair tissue. It is common in adults who have more than one type of acne scars.
Treatment Options for Atrophic Acne Scars
To address this type of scar, your dermatologist will try reducing the depth of your scar and then treat any kind of discoloration. There are a number of treatments available that range from mild to clinical-level procedures. So you need to speak with your dermatologist to see what is right for you and your skin tone.
The treatments include:
Chemical peels. In case of mild scarring, this treatment is used to remove top layers of the skin and encourage new skin growth. Salicylic acid or glycolic acid is used to remove the outer layers of your skin. This therapy should not be used for very deep scarring.
Laser therapy. You can use lasers to treat layers of the skin and encourage new skin growth. High-energy light removes the outer layers of skin to stimulate collagen production. This is called ablative laser therapy. Non-ablative therapy uses heat to spark the production of collagen in the skin.
Dermabrasion. This removes the top-most layer of your skin to encourage a smoother layer to grow in its place.
Dermal fillers. During the procedure, substances such as hyaluronic acid or calcium hydroxylapatite are injected to fill in the scar temporarily. This helps to improve the appearance of your skin.
Microneedling. Your doctor will use tiny needles to encourage collagen production and reduce the depth of scars.
Punch excision. Your dermatologist will cut out and then stitch together to create a less noticeable scar.
Punch grafting. The scar is cut out, and the area is replaced with skin from elsewhere. It is usually taken from behind the ear.
Subcision. Scar tissue is broken away from your skin. As a result, it raises up and looks less noticeable.
TCA CROSS peels. The procedure uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA) on a scar to encourage collagen growth.
Treatment Options for Hypertrophic Acne Scars
Hypertrophic scars are raised up from the skin instead of indentations in the skin. This occurs due to too much collagen produced while healing. These kinds of scars are less common than the other kind and are mostly associated with body acne.
Keloid scars are also hypertrophic scars. A keloid scar is a smooth, firm and hard growth due to spontaneous scar formation. These scars can arise soon after an injury or even develop months later. Keloids may be itchy or uncomfortable and extend well beyond your original wound. Hypertrophic scars are generally the same size as the acne that caused it, but keloid scars become much larger than the original spot.
The purpose of treatment for raised scars is all about reducing the height of the scar.
- laser resurfacing
- surgical removal
- steroid injections to soften the scar tissue and reduce its size
- over-the counter (OTC) scar treatments like silicone sheets or oils
There are several OTC treatments available that claim to reduce the appearance of your scars. So you should check with your derm or doctor before wasting any money on products that might not work.
When to See a Dermatologist
For most people with acne scars and discoloration will fade with proper acne treatment and sun protection. However, if you have discoloration or scarring that lasts more than a year and you are interested in treatment, speak with your doctor or dermatologist.
Your dermatologist can help develop a treatment plan best suited to your skin. Home treatments can also help reduce the appearance of your acne scars. But home remedies are usually not as effective as treatments offered by your dermatologist.
Managing Acne Scars
Managing your acne scars can be a daunting task. You might have various options for treatment. By understanding the types of acne scars, you can feel empowered to take control of your health and appearance. Once you identify the kind of acne, you do not have to go through treatment for the different types of acne scars. You can discuss this with your doctor and decide on the right skin treatment.
Even with the most conscientious and careful treatment, you may develop acne scars. If you have acne, your first attempt is to control the breakouts as much as possible. It is actually very difficult to effectively treat acne scars if they are still actively breaking out.
Your dermatologist can also help you find an acne treatment that will help get the breakouts under control. Once your skin is reasonably clear, the next step is treating acne scars. Your dermatologist can help with that too.