Acne is a disorder that causes outbreaks of skin lesions commonly called pimples. Acne lesions occur mostly on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Although acne is not a serious health threat, severe acne can lead to disfiguring and permanent scarring. For those of us who get frequented with acne, You will find that acne is not much of a problem as the scar the acne leaves behind in its wake.
Causes of Acne Scar
Acne scars are most often the product of an inflamed lesion, such as a papule , pustule, or cyst. Inflamed blemishes occur when the follicle, or pore, becomes engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The pore swells, causing a break in the follicle wall. If the rupture occurs near the skin’s surface, the lesion is usually minor and heals quickly. More serious lesions arise when there is a deep break in the follicle wall. The infected material spills out into the dermis and destroys healthy skin tissue. To repair the damage done to the dermis, the skin forms new collagen fibers. Collagen is the fibrous protein that gives the skin its strength and flexibility. Unfortunately, the finished “repair job” never looks as smooth and flawless as before the injury. Inflammation is the single greatest gauge of scar development. The greater the inflammation on the skin, the more likely scarring is to occur. Deep breakouts that take a long time to heal also increase the chance of scarring. Blackheads, whiteheads, and other non-inflamed blemishes typically don’t cause scarring because these types of lesions don’t injure skin tissue.
Types of Acne Scars
As the wound heals, the body sometimes produces too much collagen, which creates a mass of raised tissue on the skin’s surface. This type of scarring is called hypertrophic, or keloid, scarring. More commonly, acne causes atrophic or depressed scars. Atrophic scars develop when there is a loss of tissue. Ice pick and boxcar scars are two examples of atrophic scars. Often, what is taken to be an acne scar is not a true scar at all, but rather post- inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) .
This temporary discoloration of the skin will eventually fade on its own. Certain treatment medications, such as Retin-A , may speed the fading time.
Prevention of Acne Scars
You can’t completely prevent scarring, but these steps can minimize your chance of developing acne scars:
Treat Acne as Soon as It Develops: The best thing you can do is get acne under control as soon as possible. Begin treating it right away, and see your doctor immediately if your acne isn’t getting any better with over-the-counter acne treatments . Quick treatment helps to keep breakouts to a minimum and prevents acne from developing into a more severe form. Prevent pimples and you’ll prevent scarring.
Reduce Inflammation: Large, inflamed acne blemishes are much more likely to leave scars behind than non-inflamed breakouts and blackheads. Your goal should always be to calm inflammation and avoid doing anything that will further irritate your skin. Aggressive scrubbing and harsh skin care products should be avoided.
Don’t Squeeze, Pop, or Pick at
Pimples: Pass up the temptation to pick or squeeze a pimple . Doing so can force debris deeper into the dermis, spreading an infection to other tissue and worsening inflammation. This is
especially true for deep, serious
blemishes like nodules and cysts. Remind yourself that popping pimples can extend the healing time and ups the chance of it leaving a permanent scar. Allow the blemish to heal on its own. If you’ve already picked at a blemish, take steps to help heal it and minimize skin damage.
Don’t Pick at Scabs: Picking at scabs should also be avoided. A scab is the skin’s natural “bandage” which protects the wound as it heals. Picking a scab off a wound before it is ready prolongs the healing process and increases chances of scarring.
Know If You Are Prone to Scarring: The reality is some people are more prone to scarring while others come through a case of severe acne without a scar in sight. If you are highly prone to scarring, see a dermatologist right away to discuss acne treatment options.
See Your Doctor If You Get Large, Deep Breakouts or Acne Cysts: While smaller blemishes can still scar the skin, it’s the big guys that usually do the damage. Because they extend deeper into the skin, deep nodular breakouts or cystic breakouts are more likely to destroy skin tissue and leave scars. Over-the-counter acne products just won’t help these types of breakouts. Get an appointment with a
dermatologist. Quick, effective treatment can help lessen the chance of developing deep scars.
Treatment of Acne Scar
You may still develop some scarring even after your best efforts. Luckily, there are scar treatments to help minimize the appearance of scarring. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. He or she can explain the treatment options available to you.
Clean your skin gently with a
mild soap or cleanser twice a
day — once in the morning
and once at night. You should also gently clean the skin after heavy exercise. Avoid strong soaps and rough scrub pads. Harsh scrubbing of the skin may make acne worse. Wash your entire face from under the jaw to the hairline and rinse thoroughly. Remove make-up gently with a mild soap and water. Ask your doctor before using an astringent. Wash your hair on a regular basis. If your hair is oily, you may want to wash it more often. Do not squeeze or pick at acne lesions. This can cause acne scars. Avoid getting sunburned.
Many medicines used to treat acne can make you more prone to sunburn. Many people think that the sun helps acne, because the redness from sunburn may make acne lesions less visible. But, too much sun can also
increase your risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin. When you’re going to be outside, use sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Also, try to stay in the shade as much as you can. Choose make-up and hair care products that are “non- comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” These products
have been made in a way that
they don’t cause acne. You may also want to use products that are oil-free. Avoid things that rub the skin as much as you can, such as backpacks and sports equipment.
Laser Treatment for Acne Scars
The Icon Laser, offers patients the best results for smoother skin. Laser therapy breaks up the scar with laser light. It punches holes in the collagen without ever piercing the skin. Because it doesn’t break the skin, recovery tends to be quicker after this treatment. Also, lasers penetrate deep into the skin causing long-lasting results. The costs of laser treatments for acne scars vary drastically. Depending on the area and the type of laser you need, the costs of laser treatment for acne scars range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Talk with your doctor about what treatment methods can help your acne. Take your medicines as prescribed. Be sure to tell your doctor if you think medicines you take for other health problems make your acne worse.