With acne being the most common skin condition in the US you would think there would be more solid information available. Many people believe that acne should be left to run its course and it will go away. However, without proper treatment, acne can lead to dark spots and permanent scars. Additionally, acne and acne scarring can lead to a drop in a person’s self-esteem.
It isn’t just about hormonal teenagers anymore either, women in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond are dealing with outbreaks in growing numbers.
While the majority of us have various scars across our bodies, from stretch marks, accidents, and beyond, there is something about facial scars that is most upsetting.
There are a number of treatments for acne scars, from laser treatment to dermabrasion, chemical peels to subscision, and fillers.
What’s the difference between acne scars and other scars? Is there one?
Well yes, and actually there are many types of acne scarring. Dark spots that appear after the lesion itself heals are only temporary, and they generally go away within two to six months. They are not true scars, as they are temporary.
A true acne scar is a permanent elevation, depression or white area of the skin. This is most common after cystic acne, which are deep lesions that are hard and tender. However, scarring can be left after pustular acne, which are clogged pores with pus in them. A true scar has a firmer texture than the skin that surrounds it. The two categories are atrophic, which is a loss of tissues, and then hypertrophic, which is an excess of tissue.
To make things more complicated, there are different shapes to acne scars. The ice pick scar is a deep scar that has a narrow opening at the skin- it’s called ice pick because it looks as though a tiny ice pick has been used to puncture the skin.
The other acne scars generally affect the surface of the skin, and can have almost box like walls (boxcar), sharp definitions (keloid), or rolling soft shoulders (rolling). Another type of scarring from acne may look like enlarged pores where acne was active.
The best way to avoid scarring is by actively treating the acne itself, however, not everyone has that luxury and many people are dealing with their teenage scars as adults. As mentioned above there are a number of treatments to reduce or remove acne scarring. It can have a deep effect on self-esteem.
To help control scarring there are a number of steps you can take to limit their impact. Be careful in the sun, if you’re heading out into the sunshine cover up with SPF 30 or higher. Additionally, avoid using Vitamin E. According to a study from the University of Miami using Vitamin E on had adverse effects in 33% of cases, while 90% of cases saw no improvement or it made matters worse.
Most importantly, resist the temptation to pick or squeeze pimples.