Most of us have come across the thought that the worst thing to happen to us was acne breakouts. Until we reached the point of getting acne scars which was even worse because it simply doesn’t disappear without some kind of intervention.
Here in this article, we’ll briefly explain what acne scars are, what causes scarring and what treatments you can opt for.
What is an acne scar?
Acne scars are a result of inflammation during a breakout which affects the surrounding pores to breakdown resulting in the scar. The mark left behind after an acne breakout (mostly cystic types of acne) which can either be pigmented or indented are known as acne scars.
Think of it like a battle wound you had with the forces of acne.
The way these scars appear are directly related to the level of collagen on your body. If you have a balanced amount of collagen, your skin is unlikely to produce scarring after a breakout. However, there are two instances where some people can ‘overproduce’ collagen and some people will have insufficient collagen levels.
In some cases of extra collagen production, your acne scars will often become raised which may be accompanied by redness or pigmentation post acne breakout.
Whereas, if your body lacks a balanced amount of collagen to efficiently repair damage caused by acne, this is where indented scars are formed which are also termed as pitted scars.
Acne Marks versus Acne Scars
The difference between acne marks versus acne scars is that acne marks are often temporary. Whereas, acne scars are mostly permanent.
Whereas acne scars are mostly permanent based on the severity of the scar. If the scar is deeper, ingredients may help up to some extent but professional treatments may also be needed. Similar to acne marks, ingredients such as AHA and Vitamin C can help increase skin cell turnover which then helps to fade the scars to some extent over a period of time.
Acne scar types
Now as we’ve talked about the two broad categories of scars which are:
1. Raised acne scars including hypertrophic scars and keloid scars.
2. Atrophic scars or pitted acne scars.
There are further scar categorizations for each one. Let’s have a look at each one of them:
1. Hypertrophic scars
These scars are more or less a result of extra collagen production which may result in an abnormal wound healing causing acne wounds to heal but become raised and turned into hypertrophic scars. These scars will often appear reddened where it becomes paler and flatter with time.
Hypertrophic scars will mostly form within the first few weeks after an acne breakout has started to heal.
2. Keloid Scars
Now these scars also resemble that of hypertrophic scars in the way they are formed but often larger than the original size of the pimple. These scars will often increase in size over time and are darker in appearance in contrast to hypertrophic scars.
One major difference between a keloid and hypertrophic scar is the time it takes to develop. Keloid scars will not form as quickly as hypertrophic scars. But with time, it slowly develops to become even larger than the original size of the wound.
3. Atrophic scars
Atrophic scars are the ones where after an acne breakout, the wound heals but the result is a shallow depression on the skin or pitted type of scarring. These are mainly caused by cystic acne. The way these are formed can be attributed to the factor of low collagen level in the body where proper tissue regeneration is unable to take place leading to a pitted type of scarring on the skin.
These scars can form right during the time an acne breakout is subsiding. Picking your acne may also worsen the inflammation making scars even more likely to happen.
There are three types of atrophic acne scars. Have a look at it below:
These generally form as a result of severe acne breakouts that run deeper down into the layers of your skin. Ice pick scars will appear as small pits of holes or punctures as though an ice pick has punctured a hold on the skin.
The way ice-pick scars appear is from the infection from a breakout which works its way to the surface, destroying skin tissue along the way.
Due to the severity, ice-pick scars are often harder to treat than other forms of acne scarring.
The term boxcar is used for the acne scar that resembles a box. These are considered the most common type of scars caused by acne and are different from ice-pick and rolling scars.
These are also formed as a result of severe acne breakouts and the scarring is wider than an ice-pick scarring.
Although boxcar scars can disappear after a period of time, they do not fully go away.
This scarring type is more shallow and less pitted unlike ice-pick and boxcar scars. They appear to be wavy and make the surface of the skin look uneven.
These scars are also a result of moderate to severe acne breakouts.
Although some professional treatment may help improve the scars, it may not fully disappear.
How to remove acne scars naturally?
Now if you’ve been wondering – “will my acne scars go away naturally?” They don’t really disappear fully depending on the type and severity of acne scar you have. There are also other factors that influence how much a scar can fade with time such as age, the amount of collagen, and how well you take care of your skin.
Now there is one option to minimize scarring in the first place. It is taking care of your skin in the first place by hydrating it, moisturizing it, exfoliating it once a while and using a good sunscreen.
Having a good skincare routine can help to avoid scarring thereby helping you to save more money in return.
If you are a beginner, start out with a basic skincare routine according to your skin type and the season. Beauty Barn offers valuable skincare routines through weekly newsletters, YouTube and Instagram channels.
How to remove acne scars
In order to remove your acne marks/scars, there are two approaches that you can choose between and get the best results out of it.
The first approach involves incorporating ingredients such as retinol, vitamin c and other exfoliators such as AHAs and BHAs. Although ingredients can help to improve scarring over a period of time, seeking professional treatment from a dermatologist.
Retinol: is retinol good for acne scars?
Retinol is considered a potent ingredient when it comes to handling situations in regard to acne. It is also an effective ingredient for improving skin cell turnover which may help to reduce and prevent new acne scars from appearing. Additionally retinol is a popular choice for aging care as well.
Since this ingredient is quite potent, it is recommended to start out in small concentrations and in lesser frequency until your skin builds tolerance.
It is also recommended to use a good sunscreen and while using retinol as the skin can become more sensitive to UV rays mainly because a skin cell turnover process takes place.
Vitamin C: does vitamin C help with scars?
One of the most popular ingredients in the market is Vitamin C which people use for balancing their uneven skin tones and pigmented acne marks.
Vitamin C has also been known to show positive results when it comes to improving skin cell turnover. This process helps to renew skin revealing a brighter and more even skin tone.
Exfoliators: is exfoliation good for acne scars?
Basically, exfoliators work to slough off dead skin cells thereby leveling the scars to some extent and helping to get rid of pigmented scars. Although it may not fully make the existing pitted acne scars disappear, it does help keep your pores clean and helps to prevent acne breakouts.
Professional treatment options for acne scars
For severe scars such as keloid (raised scars) and pitted acne scars, professional treatment may become necessary as the damage is deeper rooted and more widespread.
A few professional treatment options of acne scars include:
If you’re someone that’s dealing with acne scars and are looking for a way to improve on them or prevent further scarring, having a proper skincare routine may very well help to minimize the scars over a period of time. Further seeking professional treatment can also help minimize the scarring over time.
The key takeaway here is incorporating the right ingredients and consistency that helps keep your skin healthy and away from acne breakouts thereby preventing future scarring.