One thing that’s common between times you’re stressed, gulping down mangoes, bingeing, and getting your period, is acne! When you have acne, you try to get rid of it using various types of treatments or all-natural cures. But what is left behind are acne scars! Unlike acne, acne scars stay on the skin longer. Sure, concealers work like a blessing to hide those marks, but you can’t always rely on makeup, right? So let us tell you a thing or two about getting rid of acne scars.
Health Shots spoke with Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Dermatosurgeon at The Esthetic Clinics, New Delhi, about how to get rid of acne scars and have clear skin. Before we do that, let’s first understand the causes of this.
Causes of acne scars
Your largest organ is your skin. There are three main layers to the skin, starting with the outermost, the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The layers help make vitamin D from sunlight and protect your body from the weather, UV radiation and bacteria. Acne can occur anywhere there are oil glands, but it is most common on the face, back, and chest.
Dr Kapoor says: “When you have acne, it can reach deep into the skin layers, damaging the tissue and causing a bump on the skin. This lump is full of germs, sebum, and dead skin cells. When acne heals, ideally the body will make extra collagen to repair the damaged tissue, but sometimes if there is a lack of collagen or extra collagen, the tissue doesn’t heal and scars form.” However, scarring can result from damage to the layers of the skin.
Remember, acne scars are worse on those who tend to pick, squeeze, or try to pop acne. It is a popular myth that if blood comes out of acne, it will not cause another acne or scarring. It isn’t true. You should never irritate acne.
Types of post-acne scars and ways to remove them
Most acne marks fade after a while, but some decide to stay on the skin. There is no treatment for all types of scars. It actually depends on the type of acne scars. Let’s look at ways you can get rid of post-acne marks on your skin.
1. Atrophic or pitted scars
These occur when the body does not produce enough collagen to heal the damage caused by acne. They are more common on the face and have three types:
- wagon markings: They appear as box-shaped depressions in the skin and are very common in areas of the face where the skin is thick. These scars are clearly defined.
- ice pick scars: These marks look small on the skin but point downward toward the skin. They are usually seen on the cheeks and are the most difficult to treat.
- rolling scars: They do not have a defined edge and are wavy in shape. They make the skin look wavy.
Treatment: Treatment of atrophic scars aims to even out the skin around the scars and create a uniform texture. The dermatologist treats atrophic scars using two-step treatment methods:
- The first stage includes the use of peels, laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion, fillers, punch excision, grafting, microneedling, etc. These treatments remove the outer layer of the skin and remove scars.
- The second stage of the treatment is done to reduce the discoloration caused by the removal of the scar. For this, the usual methods used are chemical peels and laser therapy, along with continuous sun protection for the skin.
Also read: From green grapes to turmeric, try these 5 home remedies to lighten acne scars
2. Hypertrophic and keloid scars
Hypertrophic scars form as raised, lumpy post-acne marks on the skin where acne once was. They are the same size as the acne that caused them. Keloids, on the other hand, are bigger than acne. They are common on the jaw, chest, back, and shoulders.
Treatment: For the treatment of these post-acne marks, the best treatments are steroid injections, non-ablative lasers, and surgical removal. The type of treatment depends on the number of scars and the areas to be treated. Other common scar removal treatments include cryotherapy and silicone sheets.
3. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the mark left by acne in the form of a discolored patch. These are caused by severe acne or if you have tried to scratch or pick at the acne. These usually go away on their own if you use good sun protection and don’t irritate your skin.
Treatment: For further treatment, chemical peels, laser therapies, and the use of hydroquinone can help lighten the scar so that it is barely noticeable.
If you also suffer from acne, consult with your dermatologist to learn the best treatment options based on scar type, skin type, and skin color to reduce the risk of scarring. Acne scars that are not too severe or deep can be treated at home, using over-the-counter creams and retinoids as recommended by your doctor. But don’t try to pop your acne, it will only make it worse.