Acne is a very common and frustrating condition seen in all ages and skin types. For some, a few blemishes here and there can be adequately managed with an appropriate skin care routine, maybe a medicated cleanser or over-the-counter product. But not all acne is harmless or that easily managed. And depending on the severity of someone’s acne, their blemishes and pimples may end up leaving behind permanent, disfiguring marks. Acne scarring can be distressing, but there are ways to address it! Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get about acne scarring, and what we have to say about it!

What causes acne scarring?

Acne scarring is the result of damage extending into the dermis (the deeper portion of the skin made up of connective tissue that gives skin its strength and integrity). Inflammation from acne contributes to scarring, along with one’s genetic likelihood to make scars. Prompt and appropriate acne management is crucial to reduce the likelihood of acne scarring.

Do all acne scars look the same?

No! There are many different types of acne scarring, and it’s important to understand the type of acne scars present to come up with a tailored treatment plan:

  • Ice pick scars: As the name suggests, these are narrow, deep depressions in the skin, resembling marks that would be left behind by an ice pick. 
  • Boxcar scars: These depressed, broader scars have defined edges and vary in depth
  • Rolling scars: These have a wave-like appearance which creates an undulating texture on the skin, like rolling hills.
  • Hypertrophic scars: These raised scars can sometimes be mistaken for stubborn acne bumps, but they don’t go away. They can be itchy and get irritated by clothing.
  • Keloids: These raised scars extend beyond the borders of the original injury.
  • Flat scars: These marks do not have a raised or depressed texture, but they are fixed discolorations (pink, red, or purple) that have lasted beyond 6 months of the original pimple healing. 

What can I do to prevent acne scars?

  • Early intervention is key. If you suspect you are experiencing inflammatory acne, or you’re concerned whatever type of acne you have may be leading to scarring, coming up with an effective skin care regimen with your dermatology provider is a must! Be consistent with the recommendations given by your dermatology provider to give your skin its best chance for acne control.
  • Avoid picking. Easier said than done, I know. While tempting, picking and squeezing pimples significantly increases the risk of worsening inflammation and scarring.
  • Daily sun protection. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can worsen the appearance of scars and impair wound healing. Regularly apply a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) with zinc 5% or higher every day to help protect your skin and prevent scars from darkening in color.

What can I do to treat existing acne scars?

  • Topical treatments – Prescription strength retinoids can help reduce some scar appearance slowly over time by encouraging skin cell turnover. Vitamin C serum can be very helpful in brightening skin complexion and aids in reducing uneven skin tone. Silagen® Acne Scar & Spot Corrector Gel can be a very helpful product to incorporate into a skin care regimen to help heal acne scarring that has developed within the past year.
  • Chemical peels –  This in-office treatment involves application of ingredients that help exfoliate the outer damaged skin layers. Our clinic offers medium and deep chemical peels, tailored to your skin type and specific concerns.  
  • Microneedling – This minimally invasive in-office procedure involves using a device with fine, surgical-grade needles to create small injuries in the skin, which helps stimulate collagen production and reduce scar appearance. Our office offers SkinPen®, which can be performed on all skin types and can take place any time of year. Common treatment areas include the face, neck, chest, and hands.
  • Laser therapy – In-office laser treatments can target scarred areas to stimulate collagen production and help reduce appearance of hyperpigmentation.
  • Intralesional steroid injections – Steroid injections directly into raised scars (hypertrophic or keloid) can help flatten raised scars and reduce itching or discomfort.

To sum it up, acne scarring can be a source of stress and frustration, but it can be addressed! Make an appointment with one of our dermatology providers for personalized care and management of acne and its aftermath.

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