MedScar Medical Watch: Causes and Treatments of Acne Scars

If a person suffers from acne as a teenager or as an adult, there is a good chance that a scar will appear during the process of treating the acne that appears on the body. In general, scars are a common side effect of acne. They can occur when the deep parts of the skin tissue are irreversibly damaged and are then replaced by scar tissue.

Thankfully, there are multiple methods that can be used to prevent scarring on a patient as well as treatment options that can also reduce scarring.

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that is considered to be chronic. It impacts close to 633-million people around the world. Acne occurs when the hair follicles of a person become clogged with dead skin cells. Some of the most common symptoms associated with acne include blackheads, pimples, whiteheads, oily skin and scarring. Acne is most prominently seen on areas of the skin that contain a large amount of oil glands. These areas of the body include the face, the back and the upper part of the chest.

What are the causes and treatments for acne scars

Types of Acne Scars

Scarring can impact almost 95% of people that suffer from acne. These scars are formed secondary to any inflammation seen in the dermal layer of the skin as part of the response from the immune system to dead skin cells. The layers of the skin that are damaged are then replaced by fibrous scar tissue.

In general, there are two types of acne scars. The difference in the way they are classified depends on the presence of excessive collagen accumulation or collagen loss in the tissue that is damaged.

  1. Atrophic acne scars most commonly impact the face of the person. These scars have a depressed surface of the skin that sits below healthy skin tissue. This condition is caused by a loss of collagen in the skin which results in a reduction of the skin’s ability to form healthy connections between the cells and the basal layer. The 3 types of atrophic acne scars are
  • Rolling scars – Scars with an irregular appearance with edges that are typically rounded
  • Ice pick scars – Scars that are narrow and deep
  • Boxcar scars – Wide scars that have a U-shape while including sharp edges that vary in depth
  1. Hypertrophic acne scars are created when excessive collagen has accumulated in the skin during the formation of scars. These scars are normally raised above the surface of the healthy skin that surrounds it and they usually appear on the chest and the back.

Preventing and Reducing Acne Scars

A balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates is recommended to help decrease the severity of scars. In order to reduce inflammation, patients are advised to use daily skin care products that are hypoallergenic so they do not cause skin irritation. Some over-the-counter skin care products help reduce inflammation and skin discoloration. However, the results are often dependent on the skin type of the patient.

The treatment plan for acne scars depends on the type of scar tissue that has formed on the body. In general, hypertrophic scars are easier to treat than atrophic scars since they do not impact the deep layers of the skin. If a scar is considered to be shallow, it will respond better to a treatment plan.

Patients can use in-office or in-home treatments to treat their acne issues. Acne treatments all work to reduce inflammation, alter hormone levels, target any bacteria and/or skin shedding and sebum production.

Popular at-home acne treatment options include topical therapies that use alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, nicotinamide, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. There are also systemic therapies that use keratolytic soaps, antibiotics, anti-androgen medications and hormonal therapy.

When it comes to treating acne, the most commonly used treatments that are listed above include topical benzoyl peroxide, retinoids and antibiotics. Some of the above treatment options can be combined with each other to produce superior results.

In-office acne treatment options include light therapy, dermabrasion, laser therapy, dermal fillers and microneedling.

Before deciding on any kind of acne scar treatment, patients should consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine which approach is the most effective one to achieve the desired results.

Learn how to Finally Get Rid of Acne Scars

Once those red or white menaces make an appearance on your face, you normally have three to five days of dealing with the unsightly appearance of pimples. While some people have the ability to leave these little monsters alone, others tend to pick, scratch and pop them until there’s no life left in them. Doctors and dermatologists suggest that leaving pimples alone can help minimize the aftermath since further trauma to the skin can cause acne scarring. However, even a pimple that is untouched can turn into acne scarring that seems impossible to conceal. Nevertheless, scarring doesn’t have to be permanent. Learn how to finally get rid of acne scars.

Acne scar removal

At-Home Treatments for Acne Issues

Skin care experts agree that there are numerous ways to prevent and treat acne scarring. Resurfacing products can help with existing acne and acne scars. Glycolic acid and Lactic acid help to minimize the depth and severity of scars while working to keep the pores clear. A cream with the active ingredient of salicylic acid can also work well. Retinol or vitamin A is known for a variety of skin-boosting benefits but few know about its resurfacing attributes which can help with acne outbreaks and scar healing. In mild doses, vitamin A can dry up the production of sebum. When there is less sebum in the pores, the odds of the pores becoming clogged is reduced which decreases the chance of an outbreak. In a case where a person already has scarring caused by acne, vitamin A promotes shedding of the dead skin cells. This stimulates cell turnover and collagen production to help minimize the depth of scarring and combat existing blemishes. While these treatments can work very well, it can take time to see great results. Therefore, some people opt for one of several clinical treatments that can quickly and effectively remove or reduce acne scarring while clearing the pores for a brighter complexion.

Non-Invasive Treatments for Acne Scarring

Microneedling, dermal fillers and microdermabrasion are some of the less invasive clinical treatments available for acne scarring. Each of these treatments can minimize the appearance of scars by allowing the body to naturally heal itself while encouraging or increasing collagen production. Microneedling uses tiny acupuncture-like needles to encourage the skin’s natural repair system. This treatment does not remove any layers of skin so it can be performed on any skin type and has minimal recovery time. Dermal fillers can be used to fill-in depressed skin that is created from volume loss caused by the inflammatory process during an acne infection. The filler is injected into the depressed scar to plump up the skin. Most dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid which naturally occurs in the body. Therefore, they are easily accepted by the body and have little to no side effects or recovery time. However, dermal fillers are temporary and will be naturally absorbed by the body over time. Microdermabrasion is a treatment which uses a diamond tip device or a spray of fine crystals to buff the superficial layer of dead skin cells. The body interprets the exfoliation as an injury and replaces the dead cells with healthy new cells. Microdermabrasion can also be used on all skin tones and does not require a lengthy downtime. Since these non-invasive treatments tend to be gentler, it can take several treatment sessions to gain adequate results.

Customized Treatments for Acne Scarring

Alternative treatments may include laser resurfacing or chemical peels. Both treatments are considered minimally invasive. Laser resurfacing and chemical peels can be customized from light treatments with a minor recovery period to an aggressive treatment requiring up to 14 days of recovery. These treatments work by removing the top layers of skin with either heat or chemicals creating a controlled wound. The body will respond to the trauma and create a new layer of skin which will be smoother and firmer looking. Although these cosmetic procedures have the potential for a higher rate of complications, they can quickly and effectively treat acne scarring with as little as one treatment. Anyone considering these treatments should consult with a board-certified doctor to see if laser resurfacing or a chemical peel is right for them since these treatments are not recommended for patients with darker skin tones or certain medical conditions.

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