Acne can be unsightly, and even worse, it can lead to permanent scarring. Acne scars are a result of damaged skin tissue, but their appearance on the face can be managed. Acne is a fact of life, but acne scars don’t have to be!
How Acne Scars Form
Acne and blemishes occur when pores become engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. This causes a pore to swell, which breaks the wall of the pore. If that rupture happens near the surface of the skin, it often heals quickly1. If the lesion occurs deeper within the pore, infected material can leak into the dermis, destroying healthy skin tissue2.
The skin then forms collagen, a fibrous protein, to heal the pore. Too much collagen, a loss of tissue, or inflammation can cause scarring. It’s part of the natural healing process, but it might not look great.
How to Prevent Acne Scars
Patients can lessen the chances of developing acne scarring by controlling inflammation. The best way to prevent it is really to treat acne as quickly and effectively as possible – go to a dermatologist if needed, and get prescription-strength medication for the patient’s skin type. Don’t pick at pimples or squeeze them, because this can force debris further into the skin and spread the infection.
Don’t pick at the scars that result. Make sure the face is regularly cleaned, and that patients have developed a skincare routine that minimizes the production of oil and keeps the skin exfoliated. Moisturize often, which sounds counter-productive. Well-hydrated skin tends to loosen up the sebum that builds up in the pores. Furthermore, if patients are over-drying the surface, the pore will actually secrete more oil to combat the dryness, which could make the breakouts worse. A moisturizing sunscreen is also helpful to minimize dryness and irritation from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
How to Treat Acne Scars
Many people treat acne scars with creams, serums, and at home products, but these often don’t provide the results they want. For patients in this situation, the best bet may be to visit a medical practice that specializes in skin and utilizes a professional procedure that can reduce the appearance of the scars. Microdermabrasion, for example, exfoliates the top layer of dead skin to reduce the appearance of dark spots and encourage collagen and elastin production3.
Chemical peels use chemicals to destroy the dead skin cell buildup on the top layer of skin4. Laser skin resurfacing is also an option, because it deeply heats the skin tissue, causing healing and restructuring to occur5. Dermal fillers, too, can add volume to reduce the appearance of certain types of acne scars that result from loss of tissue.
Often acne scars can get better over time, but in many cases patients will need some type of treatment to reduce their visibility. For patients concerned about acne scars, they can take steps to minimize the risks of developing them. And if a patient does get scarring that doesn’t go away on its own, they have options.