Acne Scars Treatment Guide: Feel Confident In Your Skin Again

Aug 25, 2021

What’s worse than a pimple breakout? The unwanted parting gift that it leaves behind, the acne scars. No matter how much we hate them, the truth is that acne scars are super common for anyone who deals with pimple breakouts.

So, if you’re one of those unlucky few dealing with acne marks, this article is for you! It tells you everything you need to know about pimple marks and their removal. Check it out!

What are Acne Scars?

Acne scars can be defined as the permanent textural changes and indentations that develop on the skin as a result of severe acne. However, it should be noted that the term “scarring” is not used for the temporary red and brown marks left after acne has healed, rather it is used for permanent marks. Since these marks are permanent, they often require medical treatment.

These scars are formed when the large, pus-filled spaces known as acne cysts destroy skin tissue in an irreplaceable manner. When the cyst eventually empties and the area heals, it might leave behind a deep scarring on face. In case of chest and back, the scarring can be lumpy, termed as “hypertrophic” or “keloid” scarring.

What are the Types of Acne Scars?

Medical experts broadly classify acne scars into two types:

Hypertrophic Scars

Hypertrophic scars are the raised or the lumpy scars that develop on chest and back as the acne heals. These scars resting above the surface of the surrounding skin are caused due to excessive collagen during healing.

Atrophic Scars

Also known as depressed scars, atrophic scars usually occur on the face. Unlike hypertrophic scars, these acne marks sit below the surrounding skin. They are formed when insufficient collagen is produced while the wound is healing.

They can be further classified into three types:

Boxcar

These are wide, U-shaped (shallow or deep) scars with sharp edges. The shallower the scars, better they would respond to skin resurfacing treatments.

Ice Pick

These scars are narrow and V-shaped marks that usually go deep into the skin. Experts classify these scars as the most difficult scars to treat, as they may extend far under the surface of the skin.

Rolling

These scars can be typically defined as wide depressions, having rounded edges and an irregular, rolling appearance.

How do I Prevent Acne Scars and Pimple Marks?

Prevention is always better than cure, and acne scars are no different. While it’s difficult to prevent scars after the occurrence of acne or pimples, you may always prevent the breakout of acne; all you need to do is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Some common ways that help prevent pimples and acne include:

Maintaining a healthy diet

While there is no definitive dietary “cure” for acne, a healthy diet can limit the breakout of pimples. As advised by the experts, the best diet that helps deal with acne includes a wholesome and balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein sources, and whole grains. Specifically, food items rich in the following nutrients are linked to lower levels of acne: vitamins A and E, zinc, complex carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants.

In addition to the intake of these food items, food with the high glycemic index, such as refined carbs should also be avoided. Another thing to note here is that eating greasy foods won’t cause acne or make it worse.

Physical Activity

Working out is known to offer several benefits for the skin, including reduced stress-related acne. Exercising regularly helps strengthen the whole body and improve the skin circulation; thanks to faster heart pumping, which lets even the smallest capillaries to receive more blood. In addition, it also supplies more oxygen to the organs, including the skin. Some yoga-asanas, such as Pranayama, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, and Bhujangasana are known best to prevent pimples and acne.

Even though exercising is a great way to handle stress, it can create the perfect conditions for acne-causing bacteria and yeast to thrive. Therefore, it is important for you to ensure clean skin before and after workouts, so it doesn’t worsen body acne.

Skincare Routine

If you are prone to acne, it’s important for you to follow a good skincare routine. A healthy skincare routine helps remove excess oil, keeps pores clear while speeding the healing process of existing blemishes.

With a plethora of products available in the market, and with so much conflicting information available in the internet, choosing a skincare routine for acne may seem confusing. However, experts say that the daily skincare routine for acne-prone skin doesn’t need to be complex. Just follow 4 simples steps:

Cleansing

If you have mild breakouts, picking an over-the-counter acne treatment wash may work well. Pick one that contains either benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid.

Toning

The next step is to apply a toner or astringent. Depending on their composition, astringents or toners can help tone, remove excess oil, and hydrate, or help fight blackheads and blemishes. When going for over-the-counter products, ensure that you use alcohol-free products, as alcohol may cause dryness or irritation on the skin.

Applying medications

People with acne-prone skin should include the application of acne treatment medications in their daily skin routine. Topical retinoids work well in this regard. They help speed up cell regeneration and improve the skin’s texture. In addition, retinoids help reduce discolouration and make scars less noticeable

Moisturising

It might seem inappropriate to moisturise already oily skin. However, moisturising is necessary for oily skin too. This is because acne medications are known to dry out skin, leaving it thirsty for moisture. Experts advise moisturising your skin twice daily, to reduce dryness and peeling of the skin.

How do I Know if my Face is Scarring?

Acne scars are the permanent and non-reversible textural changes that develop on the skin as a result of severe acne. Acne scars are often confused with the discolouration of the skin that appears after a pimple has healed, also known as post-acne hyperpigmentation. However, as mentioned above, the term “scarring” is used to refer to the permanent marks rather than using it for temporary red and brown marks left after acne has healed.

So, how to know if you have scarring on your face?

Acne scars might appear as shallow indentations or lesions on your face. Another major difference between acne marks and acne scars is their life on the face. While marks fade away within a few weeks, acne scars last for more than a year, and may require medical attention, rather than home remedies. This is because scars cause permanent damage to the skin, they change the texture of the skin, leave indentations, or raised spots and hence, need treatment in order to disappear.

Home Remedies for Acne Scars and Pimple Marks

Although standard clinical treatments are known to be most effective for reducing acne, certain home remedies can also be tried. However, more research on their effectiveness is still needed. Mentioned below are some effective home remedies for acne:

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a product formed by fermenting apple cider – the unfiltered juice from pressed apples. Containing organic acids such as citric acid, apple cider vinegar is known to kill acne. Studies show that succinic acid, another organic acid in the vinegar, suppresses inflammation caused by P. acnes, which may further prevent scarring. Another acid, Lactic acid, may improve the appearance of acne scars.

Please note that applying apple cider vinegar to your skin may cause irritation or even burns. Therefore, it is advisable to use it in small amounts, and only after diluting it with water.

Lemon Juice

While the application of lemon juice still lacks any significant research to prove its efficacy, anecdotal evidence is ample. Folks who have used it, have found great success in applying lemon juice to acne scars. They say it helps reduce discolouration and helps even out your skin tone. However, since lemon juice is highly acidic, it is advisable to apply just a few drops only, and that too, not directly on the scars.

Honey and Cinnamon Mask

Honey and Cinnamon have proven ability to fight bacteria and reduce inflammation, the two most common factors that trigger acne. According to a study in 2017, the combination of honey and cinnamon bark extract exerts antibacterial effects against P. acnes.

In fact, honey on its own, can kill or blow the growth of P. acnes. However, this does not necessarily mean that honey effectively treats acne.

Tea Tree Oil

Extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is known to fight bacteria and reduce skin inflammation. Studies show that when compared to benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil shows minimum skin irritation while fighting bacteria.

Here’s a pro tip for you: always dilute tea tree oil before applying it to your skin, as the oil is very potent.

How do I Cover-up Pimple Marks on Face?

Since treating acne scars may take a longer time, you might want to have some temporary solutions to cover up your pimple marks. For this, you may try putting on makeup. Start with clean and moisturised skin, then apply primer to your blemishes. This will help your concealer stay in place for a longer time. Wait for a few minutes for the primer to set, and then put on a concealer over your acne.

What Treatments are Available for Acne Scars?

So, after you have tried using all remedies, you might want to have a permanent cure for your acne scars. mentioned below are the treatments that you may want to try for your scars. But, before starting any treatment for acne scars, you must consult a dermatologist. They can help you pick the best cure.

The treatments can be broadly classified into two categories: At-home treatments and clinical treatments:

At-Home Treatments?

As the name suggests, these treatments do not require your physical presence in the office or the clinic. You may have these treatments right at your homes. These include:

Alpha hydroxy acids

Products with Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) help treat acne by removing dead skin to prevent the occurrence of clogged pores. In addition, AHAs have been proven to make acne scars appear less noticeable. What’s best is that it works well for all types of acne scars.

This mild acid works by exfoliating the outer layer of the skin to remove rough skin and discolourations.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid peels twice a week for three months regularly helps improve the appearance, texture, and lessen skin pigmentation. Also, it lightens acne scars. Like Alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid is also suitable for all skin types.

If countless peels, serums, and ointments containing lactic acid puzzles you, try using diluted apple cider vinegar as a toner or spot treatment. It naturally contains lactic acid.

Retinoids

Best suited for atrophic or depressed scars, topical retinoids are another acne treatment that offers benefits such as scar-smoothing.

Along with cell regeneration and skin texture improvement, retinoids help minimise discolouration to make the scars less noticeable. However, they are known for making your skin very sensitive to the sun. Therefore, it is advisable to always wear sunscreen while going out, if using retinoids.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is known for clearing up the pores. Its topical application helps reduce swelling and redness, and exfoliates the skin.

What’s best is that it can easily fit into your daily routine. Just add a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. You may see visible results in a few weeks.

Please note that salicylic acid may cause dryness or irritation. In case you experience any of these, limit the use of the product. In fact, you may try spot treating in case you have sensitive skin.

Clinical Treatments

When at-home treatments fail to provide the desired results, your dermatologist may ask you to undergo some clinical or in-office procedures. These include:

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is one of the most effective and common procedures for acne scars, especially shallow boxcar or rolling scars.

The procedure uses the same general principle as used in at-home microdermabrasion kits. The procedure includes the usage of a wired brush or a wheel for deep exfoliation of the top layer of the skin.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use a strong acid that practitioners use to remove the top layer of the skin to reduce deeper scars. This treatment is typically used for people with deeper scars.

Laser Resurfacing

Just like dermabrasion and chemical peel, laser resurfacing also removes the top layer of the skin. Compared to other treatments, this procedure has a faster healing time. However, till the time your skin is completely healed, you have to keep the area covered with a bandage.

But, before undergoing laser resurfacing, talk to a doctor, as the procedure is not recommended for people who are still getting breakouts. Also, the efficacy of this treatment is yet to be proved for people with darker complexions.

Microneedling

This relatively newer procedure involves the usage of a small, handheld, needle-studded roller on the surface of the scars. The needles puncture the numbed skin and as the skin heals, it produces collagen, making scars less noticeable. It may take up to 9 months after the treatment to see the visible results.

Injections

Healthcare providers may also inject some medications into the raised scars. These medicines help soften and flatten the scars. The injections are typically given as a series, one in every few weeks.

Fillers

In certain cases, dermatologists may also use fillers to fill in the acne scars and even out the skin. The fillers are made up of your own fat, collagen or some artificial substances. They are injected under the surface of the skin.

However, this treatment has a downside. The results last for 6 to 18 months only. After that, they need to be redone.

Is Laser Treatment Safe for Acne Scars?

Laser treatment involves the use of lasers. It penetrates the outer layers of skin to stimulate the growth of new and healthy skin cells. The laser removes damaged layers of skin, and allows healthy skin to grow in its place.

Laser treatment is absolutely safe and involves no or minimal side effects. These include:

  • minimal discomfort
  • minor bleeding
  • swelling
  • skin crusting
  • skin discolouration

However, before undergoing laser treatment, it’s better to consult a doctor, as he or she may guide you well in reference to its potential side effects and consequences. In general, this treatment is recommended for dormant skin or skins that are less prone to acne and skins that are lighter in complexion.

How Long does it take to heal?

In the first 5 to 7 days after laser resurfacing, your skin will become dry and will start to peel. Once the skin heals after this, you may wear oil-free makeup to minimise redness. This redness typically fades away in two to three months.

Hear from our Experts (Video Section)

Acne Scars FAQ: All Your Questions Answered

Q-1 Do acne scars go away naturally?

Ans: Typically, it takes 3 to 6 months for acne marks to disappear. However, if you have a scar, it means your skin is permanently damaged that requires medical attention. If acne has left raised spots or indentations, the damage has occurred even at a deeper level in the skin.

Q-2 What type of acne scars go away on your own?

Ans: Harsh reality, but sadly acne scars never completely disappear. However, their appearance may improve over time with medical treatments.

Q-3 Does drinking water get rid of acne scars?

Ans: Since water is known to have cleansing and rejuvenating properties, experts believe that it is one of the best ways for acne scar removal naturally. Drinking a lot of water helps dead skin cells shed off much easier.

Q-4 Will coffee make my acne worse?

Ans: Coffee usually does not cause acne. However, drinking a lot of it, specifically, if loaded with milk and sugar, can make your acne worse.

Q-5 Does vitamin C help acne scars?

Ans: Vitamin C is known to treat acne scars by optimising the synthesis of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is responsible for your skin’s structure. It is vital to rebuilding healthy skin tissues, thereby accelerating the healing of acne wounds.

Q-6 Will acne scar even if you do not pop it?

Ans: There’s no clear evidence if not popping acne will leave a scar or not. However, it has been seen that even if you do not pop your acne, a dark red or brown mark may appear on your skin. However, these marks usually go away within a few months.

Q-7 Is the sun good for acne scars?

Ans: No, prolonged sun exposure may make scars more noticeable. Exposure to the sun may also cause redness, inflammation, and even discolouration on areas of acne or scarring.

Take Action Now

Some acne marks and scars fade over time, and for those that do not, application of certain over-the-counter products might help. In case both, home remedies, as-well-as over the counter products fail to provide desirable results, you may need to consult a dermatologist. A dermatologist may recommend some clinical procedures that can help you feel confident in your skin again.

If you’re looking for an expert who can solve your skin problems, you might want to consider Clear Skin & HairMD Clinic. Clear Skin & HairMD Clinic helps you understand what works for your skin. Before jumping on to any treatment, experts at the clinic perform a comprehensive investigation of your skin problems. Their in-house team of highly experienced dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are skilled in using the top-of-the-line FDA approved equipment and holistic treatment modalities to help treat even the most complex acne scars.

Consult Clear Skin & HairMD Clinic now and get freedom from covering up your scars with makeup.

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