Scars in general are the result of injury to the tissue. In the case of acne, a buildup of bacteria and sebum in the sebaceous follicle causes the injury. The body responds by rushing white blood cells and inflammatory molecules to the damaged cells, which can remain at the acne breakout site for weeks in order to heal the area and prevent infection. The skin attempts to repair these lesions by forming new collagen fibers. These repairs usually aren't as smooth and flawless as the original skin. In severe cases of nodular acne where a larger infection occurs in the deeper layers of skin, there can be tissue loss and permanent scarring.
Why treat acne scarring?
Acne scarring can cause severe physical, emotional and social stress. Treating your acne scars can help improve the appearance of your skin, enhanced your self-esteem, and promote a better overall skin health.
What you need to know?
There are two main types of acne scars:
Hypertrophic or keloid scarring.
These scars are caused when the body produces too much collagen as acne wounds heal, resulting in a mass of raised tissue on the skin's surface. Hypertrophic scars are raised and lumpy. They tend to appear on the back and chest, but can also appear on the neck and face. Often the result of severe acne (cysts or nodules), they generally stay within the boundary of the original wound, and may decrease in size over time.
Atrophic or depressed scarring.
These scars develop when there is a loss of tissue. There are three common types of atrophic scarring:
Do's and Don'ts
- “Icepick” scars are deep pits that are usually less than 2mm across. They extend into the skin, giving the skin an appearance of having been punctured by an ice pick.
- “Boxcar” scars are angular scars with sharp vertical edges, and resemble the scars left by chicken pox. They may be shallow or deep, and are most often found on the cheeks and temples.
- “Rolling Scars” are caused by damage under the surface of the skin. They give the skin a wave-like appearance. They tend to be wide and shallow.
- Avoid overexposure to the sun. The excess UV exposure can darken scars and make them look more prominent.
- Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday.
What are my treatment options?
- Irritate inflamed skin. Overwashing or scrubbing scarred areas can further reduce skin elasticity and can make the appearance of the scar worse.
- Pick at scars. Bacteria from unwashed fingers and nails increase the risk of additional cysts forming, leading to the development of a larger scar.
- Give up on your acne scars. New techniques and technologies are always coming out that can dramatically improve both the depth and appearance of acne scars.
Clear Dermatology & Aesthetics Center offers many treatment options to diminish the appearance of acne scars. Depending on the type of acne scar, the severity, and the location, one of our board-certified dermatologists will be happy to sit down and discuss a personalized treatment plan to best help your individual concerns.