How to Get Rid of Acne Scars?
Breakouts can be frustrating, really. Not only are they painful, itchy and uncomfortable but they also tend to leave behind unsightly scars and marks long after we have won the battle against an acne episode. The scars left behind are undoubtedly an unwanted reminder and memento of a bothersome and embarrassing spell that most of us would rather forget than keep around.
The good thing, however, is that you no longer have to carry around these scars for the rest of your life as it is wrongly assumed. Strides in dermatological science have ensured that we now have several ways of how to get rid of acne scars fast, sometimes even at the comfort of your home. Speaking of which, in this guide we are going to explore the many ways of how to get rid of acne scars naturally without necessarily breaking the bank or trigger another debilitating acne episode.
Types of Acne Scars
As you may already know by now, acne comes around as a result of one's skin pores getting clogged by dead skin cells, oil and grime. Bacteria activity in these newly formed comedones will then lead to painful inflammation followed by angry-looking red bumps. Acne scars are the pits and marks that are left behind when breakout clears, either on its own or after deliberate medical/cosmetic intervention.
As you would expect, the types of acne scars that one ends up with mainly depends on the original type of acne that you had developed and the methods of treatment you pursued for relief.
Speaking of acne scars types, here are some of the most common ones;
1. Atrophic Scars
These are shallow, flat depressions that heal just below the top most layer of the epidermis. There are mainly the aftermath of severe cystic acne breakouts that did not heal as well. The appearance and severity of these atrophic acne scars will greatly vary depending on one's history with the condition. Under atrophic scars, we have three other sub-acne scars types, which includes;
- Boxcar scars: They are broad and tend to appear like box-like depressions that have very defined edges. They are mainly as a result of widespread acne (which occurs almost the entire face), varicella or chickenpox episodes. Varicella, for those who may not be familiar with the term, is a virus that caused an itchy red rash full of blisters and pus.
- Rolling scars: They usually have varying depths, sometimes they have sloping edges that make the skin look uneven or wavy.
- Ice-pick scars: They are smaller and mostly have narrower indentation than boxcar scars. These indentations point down and deeper into the skin's outermost layer. You are most likely to find ice pick scars on the cheeks and they tend to be very difficult to get rid of once they have set in. You will want to pursue a persistent and more aggressive treatment approach to treat these types of acne scars.
Boxcar acne scars tend to be found majorly on the jaw and lower cheeks where the skin tends to be relatively thicker and less oily in general.
2. Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars
Unlike the atrophic acne scars discussed above, keloid scars tend to manifest themselves as raised lumps of dead-looking scar tissue where the breakout once occurred. This mostly occurs in the aftermath of several acne attacks occuring at the same spot causing the acne scar to build up progressively.
Hypertrophic scars tend to be of similar size as the same acne spots that caused them. Nonetheless, in certain unique cases keloid scars can grow progressively over time to be larger than the original acne spot that caused it in the first place.
Keloid scars and some variants of hypertrophic scars are more common in areas such as the chest, jawline, shoulders, and the back. People with darker skin stones tend to be more likely to develop hypertrophic and keloid acne scarring than their lighter-skinned counterparts.
When an acne spot heals, it at times tends to leave behind a discolored or darker patch where the breakout originated. And while this is not exactly a scar, hyperpigmentation remains a common occurence of skin which has recently been plagued by severe acne. It's mostly observed on people with darker skin tones or those who have the tendency of squeezing and picking their problematic acne spots.
Fortunately, however, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation tends to clear up on its own when the patch is properly dressed and protected from the sun.
What Causes Acne Scars
Truth be told, some people tend to have a higher propensity of getting scars after their breakout episode has cleared. The risk of developing scars increased exponentially when a person;
- Delays or neglects to treat an inflammatory acne spell: The longer that you wait before starting treatment of an inflammatory acne episode, the higher the probability that scarring will occur after healing.
- Has inflammatory and persistent acne: Inflammatory acne refers to breakout episodes that are characterized with reddish, swollen and painful lumps or nodules. A good example is cystic acne, which is prone to penetrate deeper into the skin damaging it even further.
- Squeezes, pops and picks their acne: The fastest way to make sure that you end up with severe acne scarring is to get into the habit of picking and squeezing your pimples.
- Has a closely-related blood relative that developed acne marks: Contrary to common knowledge, genetics has a critical role to play in determining the likelihood of acne scarring.
Now, when it comes down to what causes acne scars, it can be explained simply as a phenomenon that comes about when the body's repair system tries to correct the damage left behind by a breakout episode.
You see, acne breakouts tend to penetrate the skin's epidermis rather deeply - the skin's outermost layer and tissue that is immediately under it sustains the most damage. And during the healing and restoration process, the body synthesizes collagen in attempt to reverse this damage and offer extra skin support in the process. But if the too much or too little collagen is produced, you will inevitably end up with an acne scar.
The type of scarring that you get will majorly depend on how much or how little collagen your body produces.
- Depressed acne scars: If your body naturally makes little to no collagen at all, pits and depression as the skin is pulled inwards as the acne heals.
- Raised acne scars: Sometimes the body tends to overproduce collagen in a bid to overcompensate for the damage sustained by the underlying skin in the aftermath of a bad breakout episode. If this happens, the person is likely to develop some kind of raised scar. These are types of acne scars are more common among people of color such as Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans.
Although the risk of developing scarring is well-known, it is almost impossible to predict accurately who will develop acne marks after a breakout episode. This is actually what makes the business of how to prevent acne scars quite tricky and unpredictable. That's why some people tend to go through adolescence unscathed while others carry the tell-tale signs of their teenage acne struggles for rest of their adult lives.
Laser Treatment for Acne Scars
The objective of laser treatment for acne scars is to minimize the general appearance of the scars sustained from old cystic acne outbreaks. The idea here is to focus light on the outermost layers of the skin in a bid to break up the scar tissue to encourage new healthy (not scar) cells to grow and eventually replace it.
As much as laser for acne scars does not entirely remove all acne scars, it can go a long way in making them less visible and lessen any pain or discomfort associated with them. That being said, the latest acne scars removal laser procedure is not recommended to people with active acne, darker skin tones or extremely wrinkled skin. But if you doubt whether you are an ideal candidate for this procedure, be sure to consult a specialist as only a board-certified dermatologist can actively tell whether laser treatment is a perfect course of action or not.
The working methodology behind this procedure is rather straightforward. Heat from the laser prong is directed on the outermost skin layer where the scarring occurs in an attempt to peel it off. The skin should appear smoother and less scarred with fewer hyperpigmentation spots after the scar has been made less noticeable. Blood flow is then drawn to the area courtesy of the broken scar tissue and inflammation is reduced as a result. Besides, the increased flow of blood in the area encourages the sprouting of new healthy cells to replace the removed scar tissues.
The combination of these steps ultimately make the scars look less red and raised while promoting the correct healing of the underlying layers.
Сhemical Peel for Acne Scars
Unlike the laser treatment method discussed above, chemical peel for acne scars utilizes special reagents to lighten the skin and, hence, make the scars look less noticeable. Apart from this, it can have an assortment of extra benefits such as;
- Lightening of dark/pigmented spots
- Smoother skin tone and texture
- Unclogged skin pores thereby making it less likely to develop breakouts in the future.
The method is centered on removing the top-most layer of the skin to allow for healthy new skins to regrow in their place. This presentation of new skin cells proves to be an excellent way of rejuvenating and maintaining a clear almost-flawless complexion. And this mostly because chemical peels for acne scars are much more effective at exfoliation than laser treatments or physical exfoliators such as topical scrubs.
What's more, the controlled trauma affected by chemical peels does not just remove dead skin but also kills acne-causing bacteria and stimulates the body's natural injury-triggered response system to make collagen that then fills up the scars. That being said, chemical peels are not necessarily the best for severely depressed or raised scars.
Microneedling for Acne Scars
Also known as dermarolling or skin needling, microneedling for acne scars involves using fine needles to prick the skin in an attempt to stimulate the body's healing response mechanism to produce collagen. The theory here is that the controlled skin prickling will trigger the synthesis of collagen and new cells which will smoothen out the fine lines, acne scars and wrinkles left behind by sun damage.
Since microneedling acne scars mainly involve filling up gaps in the skin, it goes without saying that it works best for depressed and not raised acne scars. The treatment works even better when it is paired with PRP and Vitamin C intake.
The advantage that microneedling has over other minimally invasive or non-invasive scar removal methods is that it is relatively safe for darker skin shades. And this can be attributed to the fact that it does not involve intentionally damaging or removing the outermost skin layer. For this reason, it is even considered safe enough for sensitive and thin skin types. Besides, unlike other more invasive acne scar removal procedures, microneedling is relatively quick and you can get back to work a day after completing your treatment, barring any serious side effects discussed below.
Microneedling acne scars, unfortunately, has unique side effects such as bruising, redness and inflammation. This, however, should clear up within a few days or weeks at most. Also, you may want to avoid direct sunlight and vigorous exercise activity in the weeks following a comprehensive microneedling session. Alcohol-based skin products and exfoliants can also worsen the side effects, be sure to avoid those too.
The Best Cream for Acne Scars
Of all methods available for getting rid of acne scars, nothing is easier to use, painless and less invasive than best cream for acne scars. AENO cystic scar removal, for instance, is infused with an array of ingredients that are optimized to reduce scarring and skin deformity without necessarily having risk additional inflammation and flare ups.
As you would predict, the best serum for acne scars is guided by the exact nature of scarring that you are looking to get rid of. If your acne scars are dark, for example, you might want to go for serum for acne scars that contain ingredients such as azelaic acid, hydroxy acids, retinol, vitamin C and hydroquinone. On the other hand, ceramides, niacinamide and licorice are best suited for red and highly inflamed acne scars. Finally, a combination of retinoids and hydroxy is best recommended for acne scars that have caused significant deformity in the external-most skin layer.
As much as acne scar creams can be effective, you will have to combine your topical regimen with other advanced dermatological procedures if the scarring is significant. The reasoning behind this is influenced by the observation that the action of these creams is limited by the presence of excessive scar tissues which have to first be physically removed for the subsequent treatment procedures to be effective enough.