Acne is a very common, often frustrating condition that sometimes results in scarring. Some people find acne scars an undesirable reminder of a painful and embarrassing condition. However, acne scars do not have to be permanent. In this article from The Dermo Lab and in collaboration with the dermatologist Dr. Sherein Nasef, you will discover a variety of ways to help reduce the appearance of acne scars and promote healthy skin.
What are the types of acne scars and what do they look like?
Acne scars form when skin tissue is damaged. Scratching and popping pimples can damage your skin and cause scarring. No matter how careful you are with your skin, scars can form.
Severe blemishes and those that are very red and inflamed are more likely to leave scars. If you are very prone to scarring, even minor blemishes can leave scars.
According to Dr. Sherein Nasef, there are three types of acne scars: atrophic, hypertrophic, and erythematous.
1- Atrophic: These acne scars occur when there is a loss of collagen as the skin heals. Here are some types:
- Rolling scars: large depressions in the skin with a rolled or wavy appearance, like an “M”.
- Boxcar scars: oval or round areas of depressed skin with distinct edges that look like chicken pox scars.
- Icepick scars: small deep holes in the skin.
2- Hypertrophic: When the skin heals from acne, it sometimes produces too much collagen. This leads to the formation of raised scars. They are usually found on the chest and back.
3- Erythematous: This refers to pink or reddish spots that appear following a trauma that causes skin inflammation. This is often due to inflamed acne.
What causes acne scars and how long does it take for them to disappear?
Inflammatory acne can cause painful, swollen, red, deep skin lesions that damage the skin and underlying collagen. As these lesions heal, the body produces collagen. Too much or too little collagen production results in acne scars that don’t look like the surrounding skin.
Dr. Sherein Nasef indicates that a few factors can increase the risk of scarring, including:
- Family history
- Delaying treatment of inflammatory acne
- Picking or popping acne
- Type of acne, such as cystic acne
Acne scars don’t go away entirely on their own. Atrophic acne scars often become more visible with age as the skin loses collagen. However, there are a variety of treatments that can make acne scars less visible. Dr. Sherein Nasef points out that acne scars on the forehead last from 3 to 6 months.
Erythematous acne scars can clear up on their own within a few months. However, for some people, they can take years to fade without treatment.
How to get rid of acne scars?
Your first line of defense is to see a dermatologist. He or she will first focus on getting your acne under control. The fewer breakouts you have, the fewer scars you’ll have. The good news is that not all acne scars are permanent.
Various treatments can help people reduce the appearance of scars. Dr. Sherein Nasef lists the following treatments: Isotretinoin, chemical peels, laser, microneedling, subcision, filler injections, and steroid injections.
You’re probably wondering whether accutane can get rid of acne scars. Dermatologists prescribe isotretinoin (also called Accutane) to reduce or clear severe acne and prevent new acne scars from forming. According to Dr. Sherein Nasef, accutane can make acne scars disappear.
- Chemical peels
Your dermatologist may apply a chemical solution to the skin. The skin blisters and eventually peels off, creating new, regenerated skin that is usually smoother than the old skin. A person may need to try different types of peels to determine which is best for them.
- Laser treatments
Laser treatment resurfaces the skin without the use of chemicals or scrubs. It removes the top layer of skin to reveal younger skin cells underneath, which can help reduce the appearance of scars.
Laser treatment is not for everyone because its effectiveness depends primarily on the acne scars and the person’s skin type. The treatment may also cause a reaction in some people, especially those with sensitive skin.
Microneedling involves inserting tiny needles into the skin surrounding the scar. This procedure stimulates collagen production, which helps improve fine lines and skin texture.
However, microneedling can cause side effects. Many people experience redness, pain, and inflammation after the treatment, but these effects disappear over time.
This approach involves placing a sterile needle under your skin and using it to break up fibrous scar tissue and “loosen” atrophic scars. Subcision is a simple surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia.
- Injection of dermal fillers
Dermal fillers are another treatment for atrophic acne scars. A dermal filler is injected into the scar. This helps to raise the base of the scar so that it is more even with the surface of the skin. The results are not permanent, so the treatment must be repeated after several months.
Dermal fillers are more effective for atrophic scars, but many are temporary. Treatment usually lasts between 6 and 18 months.
- Steroid injections for hypertrophic scars
Corticosteroid injections can help treat raised acne scars if a person has hypertrophic or keloid scars. Treatment usually consists of a series of injections. A dermatologist may perform these injections in their office once every few weeks, monitoring the results.
There are also a few things you can do to reduce your risk of acne scarring:
- Stop smoking.
- Don’t touch your face. Resist the urge to pick at or squeeze your pimples.
- Treat your acne as soon as possible to reduce the risk of scarring.
It’s never too late to treat these scars
Acne scars form when your skin produces too much or too little collagen during the healing process. They can also form when you scratch your skin or pop pimples. Severe blemishes are also more likely to leave scars.
Although acne scars do not disappear completely on their own, the right treatment or combination of treatments can improve their appearance.
Consult a physician for recommendations on the best treatment plan for your type of acne and its severity.