One thing that is common between the times when you’re stressed, gobble up mangoes, binge eat, and get your period, is acne! When you have acne, you attempt to get rid of it using various types of treatments or all-natural cures. But what get left behind are acne scars! Unlike acne, acne scars remain on your skin for a longer time. Surely, concealers work as 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 how to get rid of acne scars.
Health Shots spoke to Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics, New Delhi, about how to get rid of acne scars and get clean skin. Before we do that, let us first understand the causes of it.
Causes of acne scars
Your largest organ is your skin. There are three major layers to your skin, starting with the outermost, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The layers help produce vitamin D thanks to sunlight and shield your body from the weather, UV radiation, and bacteria. Acne can occur anywhere there are sebaceous glands, but it is most common on the face, back, and chest.
Dr Kapoor says, “When you have acne, it can reach the deep layers of the skin, damaging the tissue and causing a lump on the skin. This lump is full of germs, sebum, and dead skin cells. When the acne heals, ideally the body should produce extra collagen to repair the tissue damage, but sometimes if there is a lack of collagen or extra collagen, the tissue does not heal and scars are formed.” All in all, scarring may result from harm to the skin’s layers.
Remember, acne scarring is worst in those who tend to touch, squeeze, or try to pop the acne. It is a popular myth that if the blood comes out of acne, it won’t cause other acne or scarring. It is not true. You should never irritate acne.
Type of post-acne scars and ways to get rid of them
Most acne marks go away after some time but some decide to stay on the skin. There is no one 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 are caused when the body does not produce enough collagen to heal the damage done by acne. They are most common on the face and have three types:
- Boxcar marks: These appear as box-shaped depressions on the skin and are very common in areas of the face where the skin is thick. These scars are sharply defined.
- Ice pick scars: These marks look small on the skin but they point downward towards the skin. They are generally seen on the cheeks and are the toughest to treat.
- Rolling scars: They have no defined edge and a rolling shape. They make the skin look wavy.
Treatment: The treatment for atrophic scars is aimed to even out the skin around the scars and create an even 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, micro-needling, etc. These treatments remove the outer layer of the skin and remove the scars.
- The second stage of treatment is done to reduce the discoloration caused because of the scar removal. For this, the common methods used are chemical peels and laser therapy, along with continuous sun protection for the skin.
2. Hypertrophic and keloid scars
Hypertrophic scars form as raised and lumpy post-acne marks on the skin where the acne once was. They are the same size as the acne that has caused them. Keloids on the other hand are larger 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 treatments for scar removal are cryotherapy and silicon sheets.
3. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the mark that acne leaves behind in the form of a discolored patch. These are caused by severe acne or if you have tried to scratch or pick up the acne. These usually go away on their own if you use good sun protection and don’t irritate your skin.
Treatment: For more treatment, chemical peels, laser therapies, and the use of hydroquinone can help lighten the scar to make it barely noticeable.
If you are also suffering from acne, then consult with your dermatologist for the best treatment options based on the 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 OTC creams and retinoids on the recommendation of the doctor. But do not try to pop your acne, it will only worsen it.