How to Treat Acne Scars

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What Causes Acne Scars and Marks?

Simply put, acne scars and marks are caused by pimples that did not heal properly, whether from picking, popping or not treating them properly. Remember how your mom told you to not pick your zits? Now you know why! However, even followed every rule in the book, you can still find yourself with marks and scarring later on. Genetics play a huge role in acne aftermath, which makes it hard to determine why one person has scars and another person does not. The best way to avoid damage in the future is to take extra precautions when caring for the surface of the skin. Choose a skin care routine that uses organic recommended products, avoid excess sun exposure and always remember to resist the urge to pick and pop blemishes.

The Difference Between Acne Marks and Scars

Unlike acne scars, acne marks are smooth to the touch and dark marks or pigmentation of the skin. When a pimple is healing, inflammation can produce excess pigmentation which can leave behind a dark spot or stain. While they can look daunting, acne marks are much easier to treat than acne scars because there is no collagen damage to the skin. They may not look pretty, but they usually fade away over a few months, depending on the person and the treatment. There are several common and effective treatments available,

Sunblock: While sunscreen should be a part of everyone’s daily skin care routine, it is critical for acne sufferers. Excessive sun exposure can worsen pimple breakouts, prolong acne marks, and even make acne marks more prominent by darkening the pigmentation. Wear sunscreen every day, year round, and even inside and on cloudy days. Look for zinc-based products and acne-friendly brands, like

Chemical Peels: A treatment designed to improve skin texture, chemical peels work by removing the top layer of skin cells, which increases skin cell turnover. This process helps remove dead skin on the surface of the skin and addresses hyper pigmentation that can be caused by acne flares. There are quite a number of chemical peel products, ranging from at-home to in-clinic and low to high strength, so always consult with a board certified dermatologist on which chemical peel, if any, is right for you and your skin type.

Laser Resurfacing Treatments: “Lasers like an IPL (Intense Pulse Light) are effective in removing darker pigmentation quicker,” Dr. Roger Tsai recommends. Fractional resurfacing lasers, like FRAXEL, and picosecond lasers, like PicoSure, have also been proven to help with skin texture issues including dark marks.

Topical Serums/Creams: One popular topical solution is Vitamin C serum, which uses powerful antioxidants to promote skin healing. Before applying the serum to your face, exfoliate first to aid absorption through the skin. Vitamin C serums have been shown to treat dark acne marks and offer anti-aging benefits to boot.

Different Types of Acne Scars and Their Treatments

Acne scars are caused when the healing process replaces skin tissue with fibrous tissue instead. “Acne scars are actual indentations created from scar tissue that has grown into the empty space of a pimple and has created a contour deformity,” says Dr. Tsai. Sometimes the body can respond by producing too much of the fibrous tissue or not enough. When too much tissue is formed, the result is a raised keloid or hypertrophic scar. On the other hand, when not enough tissue is formed, the result is a depression in the skin, known as an atrophic scar. Because scars form for different reasons, there are different treatment protocols for each type. In general, compared to acne marks, acne scars are more permanent and harder to treat, although their appearance can be softened with certain acne treatments.

Ice Pick Scars

An ice pick scar is a type of atrophic or depressed scar that goes very deep into the skin. Like the name implies, ice pick scars resemble a puncture. Because they are so deep in the skin, ice pick scars are often thought to be the hardest of acne scars to correct.

Boxcar Scars

Like icepick scars, boxcar scars are also atrophic acne scars, but they are different from ice pick scars because of their broader or boxier shape. Since boxcar scars are also a result of insufficient tissue formation, they are treated the same way as ice pick scars.

Rolling Scars Rolling scars are shallower than an ice pick scars and boxcar scars and have more of a “rolling hills” appearance, meaning they don’t look like punctures.

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