Acne Scars: What is the Best Treatment?
Many teens, twenties and sometimes even older have to put up with acne - but when the acne leads to scarring too, many will feel that they have been especially unlucky.
Personal appearance and good looks are important for us all but perhaps no more so that in the young when their self esteem and feeling good about themselves is paramount.
Acne is so common in teens that it is considered to be a normal part of puberty but that does not make it any easier to live with! Some 8 out of 10 teens do have acne and so do many adults too.
Why does acne occur?
The skin has thousands of tiny hair follicles and each has a sebaceous gland that produces an oily substance, sebum. An abnormal reaction of the sebaceous glands in the skin to the male hormone testosterone causes them to make more sebum.
This occurs at puberty when production of hormones, including testosterone, increases in both boys and girls. Hormonal changes also cause the cells of the top layer of skin to overgrow, forming a thicker layer which can block the outflow of sebum from the glands.
Everyone has heard the terms “whiteheads” and “blackheads” but what do these really mean?
A whitehead is the early stage when the pore is plugged with oil and skin cells. If the same plug reaches the surface of the skin, the air turns it black and we get a blackhead. It is important to know that a blackhead is not caused by dirt. If the wall of a plugged pore breaks, the surrounding area swells up and can turn into a red bump. If this happens close to the skin’s surface, then the red bump usually becomes a pimple.
Is acne more common in boys than girls?
Acne is not necessarily more common in boys than girls but it is often worse in boys because they produce 10 times more androgen than girls AND they tend to have more skin oils.
Genetics also plays a part. If a mother or father had bad acne, then their teenage son or daughter will have a greater chance of having acne too.
The immune system also plays an important role in the severity of acne. Some teens can be extra sensitive to the bacteria that may become trapped in their pores.
There are other factors that will make acne worse
- Oil based make-up, suntan oil, hair gels and sprays
- Certain cosmetics and medicines
- Menstruation in girls
- Squeezing or picking at any blemishes or pimples
- The hard scrubbing of the skin
Some of the most common triggers for acne
- Exams, new relationships and other forms of stress
- The time just before a period starts
There are three types of acne skin conditions that can lead to scarring
- Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. It is the papules that you have to be careful of for scarring. Resist the temptation to squeeze them. Red or brownish colored marks on your face are more than likely to fade away in a matter of months.
- Acne rosacea can be confused with the acne vulgaris. Rosacea affects millions of people and appears as a red rash normally on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. As the redness is often accompanied by typical acne symptoms of bumps, pimples and skin blemishes, you can see how the two conditions can be confused. Acne rosacea scars are also a possibility.
- Cystic acne is one of the more severe types of acne and almost always leaves some degree of scarring behind, taking a long time to heal and at worst leaving behind a permanent reminder with pits and marks which in some cases can stretch across a wide area of skin. Prevention is best with this type of acne. Avoid touching or picking and follow a healthy lifestyle so that the skin has the very best chance of rejuvenating and healing itself.
Acne is a major cause of facial scarring
Fortunately, there are many different options open to teens and twenties to get rid of or lessen those acne scars so that they do not have to feel so self-conscious any more.
Is it possible to get rid of regular acne scarring - and how do you reduce the appearance of those deep acne scars?
There are several conventional scar removal methods carried out by medical practitioners and these are:
- Surgery is one way where the doctor will cut out the scar and close the wound with tiny stitches, leaving behind a smaller barely noticeable scar.
- Laser surgery has become very popular and different lasers are used for different types of scars with a CO₂ laser beam being the one for acne scars. Lasers are effective in removing facial scars because they can both lighten dark scars and even out the skin's surface. Laser skin resurfacing is suggested for those indented acne type of scars in the skin. The damaged top layer of skin is removed while the middle layer is exposed and firmed to reveal a smoother skin.
- Cryosurgery is another method where super cooled liquid nitrogen is applied to scarred tissue to wear it away without damaging the skin underneath. Although it can be uncomfortable, this method is suggested for those more prominent, raised scars.
- Yet another treatment used for scars on the face is micro-dermabrasion, using a small device (a rotating wire brush or spinning diamond instrument) that wears down or buffs out the top layer of the skin, leading to a smoother face with less damage.
Of course, doing your best to avoid acne in the first place is always a good plan
Cleansing is top of the list to reduce latent bacteria on the skin’s surface, remembering to use warm water, natural products and a clean wash cloth two to three times a day.
Lifestyle changes are important too such as drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily; taking plenty of vitamins A, C and E and zinc as well as ensuring your vitamin D levels are high; and including lots of leafy vegetables and fresh fruit in your diet.
And an extra point to think about is that going gluten free can be the most important step you take in tackling acne outbreaks.