Acne Scars – Types and Treatments
We all want to look our best. Our skin the largest organ in our body and contributes greatly to our physical appearance. It is natural to want your skin to look as lovely and healthy as possible. Unfortunately, many of us do suffer from acne and damage can be quite severe in some instances. In addition to the physical scars caused by acne, there can be damage to our self-esteem and a loss of confidence that can affect all areas of our lives. Acne Scars are a very common skin problem, afflicting 25% of people, and many people are interested in learning how the appearance of acne scars can be reduced.
There are many different types of acne scars and, luckily, a wide range of treatments available to improve the appearance of your skin. By exploring the latest research connected to acne treatments, you can get a strong understanding of how to improve your skin and feel confident again.
Types of Acne
Acne scars can be superficial or deep and extensive. Your skin consists of a number of layers – the epidermis is the top layer of your skin and the dermis lies beneath this top layer. Acne scars that spread down to the dermis are usually the most noticeable and difficult to eradicate with treatments. Acne is caused by a hormonal reaction in your body that triggers excess oil. This oil blocks the glands in your skin and causes a red, inflamed area. Scarring is not always inevitable, however, your skin may react to the inflammation and ‘over heal’, causing acne scars to remain permanently and blemish the surface of your skin.
There are essentially two ways that acne scars occur:
- Excess Skin Tissue – Your body attempts to heal the acne scar and over compensates, creating too much skin tissue. This will create a lump or bumpy and irregular effect.
- Damage to Skin Tissue – Tissue is lost in response to inflammation, and when you heal, there will be an irregular dip or small hole.
Keloid scars result from excessive tissue build up following a breakout on your skin. African Americans are more prone to this skin condition, and the end result is bumpy, pearlescent scars. Keloids result from a build up of collagen in the skin, which causes the scarring to occur.
Ice Pick Scars
Acne scars that occur when the skin loses tissue include small areas of damage that look like a tiny little ice pick injury. Ice pick scars can be very deep and visually noticeable. The base of the scar is wider than the surface point and this causes the ice pick effect.
Depressed fibrotic scars look like tiny craters and are caused by loss of tissue after an acne breakout. These types of scars often occur on the cheeks and can transform into ice pick scars. Fibrotic scars are hard to touch, recessed with steep sides and result primarily from a loss of collagen as the skin reacts to hormonal flare-ups.
Atrophic Macules are blue or pink and slightly blotchy in appearance. Gradually, atrophic macules fade to a shiny, white discoloration. A Macule is a primary lesion resulting from a change in the surface color of the skin. There is little elevation or depression and the main discoloration is caused by the blood vessels below the scar.
What causes these different types of acne scars?
- Acne is known to be hereditary and there is a tendency for acne to run in families. The tendency to suffer from acne scars is also linked to a hereditary tendency.
- Hormonal Activity is strongly linked to acne, particular excessive male sex hormones.
- Stress has been strongly linked to acne – so the type ‘A’ personalities may find that they are more susceptible to acne flare-ups! Scientists are still debating this link, however, we all know that stress affects our skin. Scientists are just trying to come up with a way to prove this in the lab.
- Thank goodness chocolate does not cause acne, however, dairy products may be linked to acne because of growth hormones given to cows – research is still relatively new in this area, but scientists are finding definite evidence emerging that links milk to acne formation and increased severity of acne scars.
Everyone will have different ideas about what will get rid of acne. Cleanse your skin, use face masks, eat healthily, drink lots of water, exercise… and this list goes on! While all of this advice is very good, for some of us, acne occurs regardless because it can be a hormonal condition. So what treatments are actually available to fix the problem?
Dermabrasion treatments involve removing the top surface of the skin with a laser. Basically, this treatment is like sanding a piece of wood. This is a medical procedure and will require a general anesthetic. This skin will take weeks or months to recover, but ultimately, scarring will be markedly reduced.
This is a less invasive, gentler and easier version of dermabrasion. Microdermabrasion treatments eliminate the superficial surface layer of the skin using scientifically tested chemical exfoliant treatments. Your skin is remodeled and scars, lesions, blotchiness and roscae can be dramatically reduced. The advantages of microdermabrasion treatments are that you don’t need to go under general anesthetic and there will be no long recovery period after these treatments have occurred.
Chemical Peels can be useful for freshening your skin and reducing the appearance of small acne scars, however, chemical peel treatments are less effective that dermabrasion and microdermabrasion.
A surgical procedure involving detaching the acne scars from the deeper skin tissue. This encourages a blood to pool below the area of scarring, triggering blood clots that help tissue to form. This treatment is suitable for ice pick acne scars. There will be bruising and swelling after a subcision procedure and the skin will need time to recover.
Saline injection treatments can be suitable for improving rolling acne scars. The procedure involves an injection of saline into the scar area. This causes the skin tissue to form collagen. Quite a few treatments are necessary to improve the appearance of acne scars.
It is very reassuring to know that regardless of your type of acne scars, there are treatments available to help. You should carefully consider all of your options and choose treatments that will be effective for your specific and individual skin condition. You can improve the appearance of your skin – no one needs to live with acne scars when there are so many highly effective treatments available to help you look and feel better.