Some scars are cool. Like the one you got when you popped a wheelie on your bicycle before you took a nasty spill.
They’re like badges we earn throughout our lives. That classic scene from the movie Jaws is based on a scar-by-scar comparison.
But some scars aren’t on that kind of level of cool. Like acne scars. No one wants to show those off.
Not everyone that gets acne will get acne scars, but for those that do, the urge to cover them up and get rid of them is very real. It eats away at your confidence.
After all, you can wear clothes to cover up some of your other scars (on days you don’t feel like bragging about your badges) but you can’t exactly go through your life with a bag on your head.
Unless you’re a mascot in a character costume at Disney World, you’re going to want to get your acne scars gone.
Inflamed lesions are the cause of acne scars. When the tissues are destroyed, your body naturally creates scar tissue, fueled by collagen. Collagen is what keeps skin young, but when employed in this fashion, it comes in looking less than smooth.
You can prevent it from happening if you do certain things (more on that below so keep reading), but if you have acne scars right now, you’re probably wondering… can I get rid of my acne scars?
You probably have an answer in your head already, but just to make sure we’re on the same page, keep reading.
Will My Acne Scars Ever Go Away?
Acne scars will not go away without your dermatologist’s intervention who has to select the right treatment for you will depending on the severity of your scars and the type of scarring you have. Unlike acne scars, acne marks will probably fade away in no time.
This is because they are not caused by the inflammation that leads to the formation of acne scars. Acne marks are caused by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of the skin after an inflammatory lesion has healed.
This means that if you treat your acne marks, you will be able to fade them and prevent further outbreaks that might leave behind scars. You can use bleaching agents like retinoids for this purpose.
You should also take measures to prevent hyperpigmentation in the future because once the damage has been done it is difficult to undo.
Topical niacinamide and glycolic acid are good for preventing hyperpigmentation because they inhibit melanin production.
Additionally, Vitamin C and vitamin E have also been proven effective in the treatment of acne scars by inhibiting melanin production and promoting collagen growth.
See, when those acne lesions form due to the pores filling with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, they can swell. And when they swell, it leads to a break in the follicle wall. If the rupture occurs near the skin’s surface, it’s hardly a big deal.
But it’s those deeper rupture you need to be careful of. The infected gunk spills out and ruins good, healthy skin tissue, forming the acne scar. Your body sets to work super-quick to form new collagen fibers. Sometimes when this happens, your body goes a little overboard on that collagen production. And when that happens, it can look a bit wonky with uneven color or texture instead of smooth skin as before.
That doesn’t mean you need to hide away forever though. Your skin probably won’t look like it did as a baby-faced child, but you can help it heal and greatly improve it so that you will feel confident in your own skin.
The difference between acne scars and acne marks also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
To make matters more complicated, many people mistake acne scars and acne marks as interchangeable. These aren’t exactly the same thing and knowing the difference will help you to effectively treat your skin with what it needs to make an improvement in the quality of your skin’s appearance.
If you have a dark or a pink mark on your skin, it’s not an acne scar, so you can breathe a sigh of relief. It is, however, a sign of inflammation. When your skin is inflamed, it can leave a stain during the healing process because inflammation boosts pigment production.
This mark will fade naturally on its own over the course of several weeks on up to several months. Another way to tell is that they feel smooth when you touch them with no indentations. They’re not raised either. These are all good signs that there’s not permanent collagen damage with your skin.
Of course, touching them to see if they’re raised or not isn’t a great idea if you’re prone to acne. The bacteria on your hands can cause more breakouts. Never touch your face with your hands unless they have just been washed!
Now let’s talk about acne scars. These occur when the damage to the skin creates abnormal production of collagen. These look either bumpy or raised. In fact, there are 2 technical types of them – depressed and raised. When the acne scars are depressed, they resemble pits or craters. Think of the famous Scorpions’ gang leader in Grease, Leo “Craterface” Balmudo.
Raised acne scars are opposite. Elevated from the skin, they may be tender to the touch and firm. Unfortunately though, these kinds of acne scars can remain forever.
If you find your skin has red or dark brown blemishes that won’t go away though, there’s hope for you yet. These are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Keep reading and you’ll find out more about it and how to make it go away.
How to speed up the healing process of acne marks or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
So you have unsightly acne marks or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Now what? Well, now we get to how you’re going to turn your skin around and restore it. You’ll have to allow it to heal before you can fully go all in to get the best skin of your life.
It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it when you feel confident with the way your skin looks. Ready to get started? Good! Here we go!
– Stop picking
I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is. I want to shout it from the mountaintops. DON’T EVER PICK YOUR SKIN! Never! Ever! EVER! If you’ve been doing it, then stop. It’s such a huge priority if you want to see your skin change.
Remember what I said earlier about keeping your hands off your face? Zap yourself if you can to develop the habit of not touching your face at all so that you never pick at it again. Once you leave it alone, it will start to heal.
– Get enough sleep
Sleep. Is there anything it can’t do? Good sleep is critical for just about everything in your life. You need it for a healthy mind and body, and your skin in particular will show you just how much it appreciates you when you get yourself proper sleep.
Plus, you’ve likely heard the term “beauty sleep,” haven’t you? It gets this nickname because the cells in your body, including those skin cells, get hard to work at night while you rest. This is why a nighttime skin routine is one of the most important parts of your overall skincare.
What you’ll want to do is exfoliate and moisturize so that while you sleep, your skin has everything it needs to fuel its best healing. Using products that promote your skin’s healing while you sleep will lead to a huge improvement in your skin’s appearance.
The following products will help you take control of your skin at night:
- Coconut oil – Rub it gently over your scars. It will moisturize and exfoliate your skin.
- Mederma PM scar cream – When you put this cream over your scars, it stimulates collagen production with its natural sulfur content.
- Rosehip oil – Use this oil on top of everything. It features natural fatty acids and a bounty of vitamins that are ideal for skin repair.
- Benzoyl peroxide – Your last step should be applying benzoyl peroxide cream. Use the maximum strength you can get without a prescription (that’s 10%) to all existing breakouts.
Don’t miss your morning routine
While that nighttime routine is THE most important part of skincare (both for those with blemish-prone skin and those with other skin types), you can’t skimp out on a proper morning skincare routine.
So rise and shine, and use the following products to achieve your best skin:
- Rosehip oil – That rosehip oil is extremely versatile. You’ll use it first on your scars to nourish them. It will soak into your skin without the extra moisture you get from the coconut oil you use at night.
- Derma e scar gel – Use this gel atop any indentations. It moisturizes and covers during the day to even out your appearance.
- Omega 3 fish oil pills – Good skin comes from within too. If you take these fish oil pills, you’ll be giving your body important omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that will allow it to heal better.
Develop healthier habits
As I just mentioned above, good skin starts on the inside. It’s so important to take care of yourself. Even people that don’t have acne scars can’t expect to have good skin if they’re not taking care of their health.
Exercise will always help you. The higher the intensity, the better the skin regeneration as your body will circulate more oxygen and heal faster. Keep skin clean after sweating, following a proper routine that cleanses without stripping essential oils from the skin.
Keep that exercise up at least 5 days a week for a good 30 minutes a day. No time to exercise? Split it up during your workday then. Go for 3 brisk 10-minute walks if you have to. Just take care of you!
P.S. Eat a healthier diet
Can I ask what you normally eat? Very few people with acne scars start breaking out when they have plates full of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you tend to eat fried, greasy, or sugary foods, it’s time to make a change for the better.
Engage in healthy eating most of the time. It’s not to say you can never have fries again, but they should be the rare treat, not your daily side dish with your lunch. Drinking more water is also important because it helps flush out toxins from the body and keeps skin hydrated from the inside out.
Be good to your body and you’ll see that it will be good to you with your skin and your overall health too.
Treatments for different types of acne scars
So, you have scars. Now what? Much of it depends on what kind of acne scars you have. Here’s a rundown and what you can do about it.
– Atrophic acne scars
These scars develop because of a loss of skin tissue. This creates a depression in the skin. There are boxcar scars which are shallow with sharp edges, rolling scars that are shallow and have smooth and soft edges, ad ice pick scars which are narrow and very deep.
If you have atrophic scars, you may do well with fillers, particularly if you have ice pick scars. Boxcar scars and rolling scars are typically treated with subcision.
Subcision is simple and minor surgery used on scars like these. It employs a special hypodermic needle punctured into the skin. It’s very safe and can bring about significant improvement in the skin.
– Hypertrophic acne scars
These are the scars that you get when your body produces too much collage, leaving you with a raised scar. When it’s fresh, it can look pink but then fade out to match your skin color.
If it’s a newer scar, you can use cortisone to slow down collagen production to the area and minimize its appearance. If not, you can get erbium laser resurfacing to shrink the scar and make it less noticeable.
This type of raised scar happens when your body takes self-repair over the top after inflammation brought on by an acne cyst. These are much larger than hypertrophic scarring tends to be. They’re also darker than your natural skin color.
Keloids aren’t as common, which is why they can be difficult to treat. You can look for retinoid skincare products. Derivatives of vitamin A like retinoic acid can stop the collagen production of fibroblasts which create the keloids.
Some acne scars may never go away, but you can take steps to make your skin appear better than ever. By avoiding bad skin habits while taking care of your health, you can minimize acne marks and even out your skin.
For scars that won’t fade, you can try certain aesthetic treatments that may minimize their appearance. Whatever the case, it’s not too late to get your skin back to good health. Using the skincare regimens detailed above, it can make all the difference for skin you’ll be confident in.