Acne scars - prevention and treatment

Avoid fiddling with your acne spots and scars to prevent additional damage, scarring and discoloration.

When acne spots are picked, squeezed, burst or break open themselves, they may leave behind acne scars. Small scars are usually not worth worrying about as they usually heal and fade quickly. However deeper or more extensive scars may be more permanent or need treatment. This is more likely if you have moderate to severe acne including nodulocystic acne. Acne and acne scars can be a considerable cause of distress, so let’s understand and tackle this issue.

 

What types of scars are there?

Usually, there are 5 main forms of acne scars. These are:

  • Boxcar scars - Boxcar scars are best described as round craters on the skin surface with defined edges
  • Rolling scars - These are broad depressions formed under the skin making the skin’s surface uneven
  • Ice pick scars - These are pitted, deep and narrow scars.
  • Atrophic scars - These scars are thin and flat or depressed
  • Keloid/ hypertrophic scars - These are thick bumps, scars that can extend beyond the original lesion.

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How can I prevent scars from forming?

To avoid scarring, calm any skin inflammation and encourage the skin to heal by itself. 

  • Tip 1: Try to avoid strong sunlight or use appropriate skin sun protection. Not only does sunlight cause aging of the skin and breakdown of collagen but it will cause scars to become darker and slow down healing. 
  • Tip 2: Do not fiddle with your scars. This includes picking or squeezing scars which may impact the severity and permanence of them.
  • Tip 3: Be gentle on your skin. Avoid Irritating your skin with harsh cleansers or excessive scrubbing.
  • Tip 4: Get your acne under control early. Contact your doctor to have a treatment plan tailored to you based on factors like the severity of your acne and medical history to help reduce acne and treat breakouts early. 

 

Can scars be treated?

  • Scars can be treated using a variety of different procedures:
  • Dermabrasion - A skin resurfacing technique where the topmost layers of skin are removed.
  • Laser treatment - This can be done to either remove layers of skin or to stimulate collagen production
  • Punch techniques - This is when areas of the skin are surgically removed.
  • Subcision - Another surgical technique. This is when the fibrous band under a car is divided allowing the skin to return to its original position. 
  • Steroids - This may suitable for keloid scars.

Home remedies have also been suggested to treat acne scars but there is a weaker body of evidence for these. Unfortunately, keloid scars are likely to reoccur after treatment. 

 

Summary 

Try to avoid scarring from your acne by treating the condition and avoiding squeezing your spots. If you do develop scars different methods can be used to remove or at least try to reduce them. Consult your doctor about how best to treat your acne problems especially if your acne is causing you depression or anxiety. Your doctor will be able to advise you on treatment regarding these conditions too. 

 

Sources

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/acne/
  2. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/acne-scarring/

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