Battling with acne is never fun: once pimples have given up, they can leave behind scars that can be hard to get rid of. Nevertheless, it is possible to reduce them like any other type of scarring. Here are some professional tips to help you minimize and get rid of these pesky marks.
What does an acne scar look like?
It can be a scar forming a small depression on the surface of the skin or a protruding bump on the skin. The three most common types of scars are:
- The so-called "Boxcar" scars, which have a rough appearance to the skin and are usually broad, box-like depressions with sharply defined edges.
- Scars known as "ice picks" which are smaller, more narrow indentations that point down into the skin's surface and are notoriously difficult to treat.
- Deeper and narrower keloid scars that resemble mini cysts. They are raised lumps of scar tissue where acne once existed and usually form when scar tissue accumulates from previous acne spots.
How long do acne spots remain visible on the skin?
Pigmented scars in the form of brown or red spots may disappear on their own in a few weeks or months. Deep scars, on the other hand, may leave permanent marks. It all depends on the extent of the lesions and therefore of the scars, as well as on the nature of the skin and its ability to regenerate.
How to prevent acne scars?
The more severe acne is and the later the treatment is started, the greater the risk of scarring. The best treatment for acne scars is therefore the prevention of acne itself!! Preventing acne scarring is simple and consists of three basic rules:
1. Do not touch your pimples
Popping, piercing, and fiddling with your pimples in front of the mirror considerably increases the risk. If you damage the skin in-depth, first the pimples multiply, then the skin has difficulty repairing itself and scars can form.
2. Do not expose yourself to the sun
There are three main reasons why you should avoid exposing your skin to the sun without proper protection.
First, the sun aggravates pimples, even if it seems to improve the skin at first.
Secondly, many anti-blemish treatments are photosensitizing and therefore react to the sun with spots.
Last but not least, scarring lesions can become pigmented in the sun, like any other lesion. On damaged skin, UV radiation causes local hyperpigmentation which can be permanent.
So, the next time you go out for the day, make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and keep your contact with the sun to a minimum.
3. Eat healthy
Certain kinds of food are known to aggravate acne and the scars that result from it. This includes anything with a high level of sugar, such as candy and anything containing starch (bread, pasta, white rice...). Avoid polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as vegetable oils, sunflower oil, and soybean oil that can worsen inflammation.
Instead, a diet rich in vegetables is recommended. You also need proteins and good fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and coconut.
When should acne scars be treated?
Before starting any treatment, it is necessary to consult a dermatologist to make sure that the inflammatory episode is over. Indeed, starting a " repairing " treatment too early could provoke a new inflammation and potentially a new outbreak of pimples. When all the indicators are green, scars can be treated with a treatment adapted to the type of mark left by the acne on the skin.
How to properly treat acne scars?
As soon as the inflammatory phase has calmed down, it is recommended to start a healing treatment right away. Once a scar or acne mark sets in, it becomes more difficult to treat it. To remove an acne scar, you must be patient and use targeted care. From the pigmented spot to the deep scar, here are a few options for treating scars based on their type.
Peeling with fruit acids, glycolic or salicylic acids can give good results on red-pigmented spots caused by acne. It is especially useful for restoring the complexion's radiance and tightening the skin's pores.
Dermabrasion acts like a mechanical micro-sanding of the skin. The abrasion removes the most superficial skin layer to force the epidermis to regenerate. The procedure is performed under local or general anesthesia and the result is obtained after one week. Do not expose to the sun for at least 2 months after a dermabrasion treatment.
If laser treatment is recommended, the technique will differ depending on the type of scar:
Vascular laser (LED, Q-Switched) is indicated for red-pigmented spots, without relief.
Fractional laser (Erbium, CO2 ablative or not) corrects wide and shallow scars in several sessions.
Ablative laser (CO2, Erbium) is dedicated to scars in relief and in the form of cords. It consists of burning the skin under anesthesia to generate a renewal of the skin tissue and smooth the skin. You'll need to take at least one week off work to recover from this treatment.
Needling or micro-needling
Needling or micro-needling consists of using a kind of electric pen equipped with micro-needles. The idea is also to induce healing by perforating the areas to be treated more or less deeply.
Hyaluronic acid injections
Injections of hyaluronic acid can be a great way to fill in light hollow acne scars, which are the most common type of acne scars.
Surgery is reserved for deep and narrow scars, it requires at least one week of social eviction and must be followed by laser sessions to finish the skin surface.
The injection of corticoids gives good results on keloid-type scars when the skin is puffy. The aim is to reduce the volume of the scars before smoothing them with an ablative laser.
It is recommended to massage the skin daily with a moisturizing but non-comedogenic formula to fade acne scars. Regular massage, combined with moisturizing and emollient ingredients, will improve skin circulation and suppleness. Argan oil is an excellent way to fade acne scars as it contains powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin E and A, which help reduce inflammation and heal damaged skin cells and increase turnover of old skin cells.