Many people tell teenagers to be patient regarding acne; that the problem will improve as they get older. Unfortunately, while many people experience their most severe acne during adolescence, acne is not limited to teenagers, and can easily persist later in life. Even if acne does fade with age, sometimes unsightly scarring remains, causing a pitted or raised appearance all over the face. This is not always the case, however, as some people move past their acne phase relatively unscathed, with little to no scarring leftover. So what causes acne to scar, and how can this scarring be treated? Before we look into the causes of acne scars, however, it’s important to understand the different kinds of acne.
Types of Acne
There are several types of acne, and some types are much more likely to scar than others. Blackheads and whiteheads are more innocuous forms of acne, which generally resolve themselves on their own and tend not to scar easily. However, sometimes these acne types can worsen and yield a more harmful acne type: inflammatory acne.
More severe inflammatory acne types include acne cysts, and nodules, which cause significant damage to multiple layers of skin. Pressure builds and inflammation spreads beneath the skin, prompting the body to fight back, eventually resulting in acne scars.
What Are Acne Scars?
Acne scars are different from post acne marks, which change the pigmentation of the skin. Acne scars change the texture of the skin and refer to either raised or pitted scarring on the face from the skin’s response to aggressive acne.
As acne heals, the body attempts to repair the damage caused by the inflammation by producing collagen. When the body produces too much collagen, raised acne scars occur, while not enough collagen results in pitted skin (often called “ice pick” acne scars).
Risk Factors for Acne Scars
Some people are more likely to develop acne scarring than others. Risk factors include:
- Genetics. If members of your family are prone to acne scarring, you are likely to experience the problem as well.
- Lack of acne treatment. If you did not treat your scarring-prone acne early on, it is more likely to scar later.
- Poor hygiene and care. Incorrect and inadequate cleansing or overly aggressive cleansing can make acne worse, and lead to scarring later on.
- Facial picking and touching. It’s common knowledge that picking and touching acne introduces more bacteria and causes injury to the skin, but many people have a hard time resisting the urge. Persistent picking at acne can result in scarring.
Relieving Acne Scars
Acne scars can be harmful, and sometimes crippling to self-esteem and confidence. Many people with extensive scarring are embarrassed and ashamed by their appearance. While acnes scarring can be difficult to treat, there is hope. There are some procedures that can improve and reduce acne scarring for better quality facial skin. Here are some ways dermatologists can help patients with their acne scars:
Laser Genesis® and carbon dioxide lasers are two types of laser treatments that can help improve the appearance of acne and scarring. The treatments work by heating various layers of the skin, which encourages cell turnover and collagen production. Following CO2 laser treatment, old skin peels off, making way for a new layer. This is a more invasive treatment than Laser Genesis®, which is non-invasive, but may not offer the same level of results.
eMatrix™ is a radiofrequency treatment that stimulates collagen and improves the texture and appearance of the skin in just a few half hour treatments. This procedure is mildly uncomfortable, with skin feeling sunburned after the treatment, but eMatrix™ can help with improving the skin’s overall texture, including acne scars.
Find a Support System
Whether you have active acne problems, recent scars, or scars you’ve had since adolescence, you should seek support from an expert cosmetic dermatologist to discuss your options. It is usually possible to produce some improvement in the appearance of acne scars. If you’re ready to tackle your acne scars and gain a trusted skincare resource, then come meet with celebrated cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Diane Walder. Dr. Walder is an acclaimed skincare expert, offering a range of treatments and customized advice. For more information, call 305-866-2177 to schedule your appointment today.