Acne – that not-so-wonderful word anyone in their teens or 20-something doesn’t want to hear. However, it affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, although the younger you are, the more likely it is to affect you. This is due to the onset of puberty, where both young men and women produce high levels of androgen. This signals the body to produce more sebum, which leads to oily skin, and in turn, increases the chances of acne.
Even though you may have won the battle against acne and blemishes, you’re still dealing with some of the after effects: scarring.
Well, if it’s any consolation, acne scars aren’t permanent although they can be if blemishes are not dealt with properly at a fairly early stage. In this article, we’re going to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about acne scars.
Are acne scars permanent?
Despite a myriad of warnings from skin specialists, parental lectures and even general disapproval from skin health-conscious friends, we just can’t help it sometimes: a zit or two appears and we try to pop it. What we should have done was just let it be.
Popping zits or pimples is an all-around bad idea because bacteria and pus from the infected pore can infect surrounding pores very easily. Plus, popping pimples can delay the body’s natural healing process, causing the pimples to take a lot longer to heal. That’s not all, it could also push the bacteria and pus further into your skin.
So again, it’s a bad idea – try to resist the temptation! Instead, try a fast acting spot cream like the Bare Addiction Rapid Spot Cream.
What causes acne scars?
Acne scars are not only caused by acne, but more specifically, due to inflamed blemishes. These occur when a pore or hair follicle becomes enlarged and infected due to bacteria, too much oil that the skin secretes or dead skin cells.
Related: Acne vs. Pimples: Are they both the same?
An entire chain reaction follows in your skin when this happens, as the pores swell up, forcing the hair follicle’s walls to crack open. And this is how scarring begins.
If these cracks or breaks occur closer to the skin’s surface, you’ll only be dealing with a minor wound which would heal fairly quickly, with little to no marks. But, a larger and deeper pore that’s inflamed, along with a more serious acne legion, is where scars begin to form – the infected areas of your skin move into the surrounding dermis and infect healthy skin tissue.
Comedones which become tender and inflamed (leading to pimples), are also referred to as acne legion or abscesses, in case you’re wondering.
Our skin reacts by quickly repairing the damage through new collagen formation. This is where new skin tissue begins to form as your skin undergoes a natural healing process. However, this is similar to putting a patch of fabric on a tear in your jeans – it will seal up the area but it won’t match the original colour or texture. So those deeper acne lesions do heal, but you’re left to deal with the scars.
Different Types of Acne
Acne can be mild to moderate or even severe. In severe cases for example, your acne may cause nodules or cysts – painful, pus-filled bumps which reside beneath your skin’s surface. Severe cases of acne will almost always cause permanent scars, in which case, we recommend you see a doctor or dermatologist.
Moderate levels of acne typically show up in the shape of red bumps and pus-filled pimples. In the case of mild acne, you’ll experience irritated blackheads or whiteheads, either with or without some red bumps and/or pustules.
Generally, the brown or light red marks which are left behind once your acne heals are perfectly normal, but in severe cases, especially when you have cystic acne, you will see permanent scarring as it heals. A word of caution: don’t pick or squeeze your acne otherwise you may have to deal with permanent scarring!
Types of Acne Scars
Much like blemishes, acne scars are of different types as well, which means you can manage them in a number of ways. However, acne scars tend to fall into two broad categories:
Hypertrophic, aka. keloid scars
This kind of acne scarring arises due to the skin producing too much collagen. The word “hyper” here comes from the Greek language which means above or over. As the acne wounds heal, the overproduction of collagen leads to a mass of raised tissue on the skin’s surface. If you look closely and see an uneven texture, you’re probably dealing with keloid acne scars.
Atrophic, aka. depressed scars
These are the opposite of hypertrophic scars, because there is a lack of collagen or skin tissue. This is why they are also referred to as depressed scars, icepick scars and box car scars. But there’s a slight different between these types of atrophic scars.
Icepick scars are small and easily visible holes in the skin – imagine thumping on an ice rink with an ice skating shoe and leaving behind a small hole. Boxcar scars look somewhat similar to chickenpox scars, and have angled sides as they are typically oval or round in shape.
Conquering the problem of Acne first before scars can be treated
Even though when he talk about scarring, you might think that you now have something permanent to deal with. But the important thing to remember is that they can be treated and can greatly be reduced in appearance.
However, before treating scars, we need to overcome our acne issues.
Even though it is believed that acne breakouts are partially to be blamed on genetics – we honestly believe it has more to do with your diet and lifestyle habits.
For instance, you certainly don’t want to walk around in dirty and sweaty clothes after a game of volleyball or a gruelling session at the gym.
You’d also want to avoid processed foods altogether or foods that are oily and overcooked. Stick to a natural, wholesome and nutritious diet that’s high in all the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and omega 3s your body needs to maintain healthy skin. That is the key!
And, you should ensure that you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated.
Now, on the skincare products side of things, always cleanse and apply a lightweight serum first thing in the morning, followed by an SPF moisturiser which is SPF30 or higher. In addition, wear at least an SPF30 or higher sunscreen before stepping out and buy skincare creams and products which contain salicylic acid.
Products containing salicylic acid contains a variety of natural ingredients which provide gentle exfoliation to the skin.
Possible ways of treating Acne Scars
A chemical peel can be used to ‘peel’ off the top layer of your skin in order to reduce those deep scars. Always use a mild one to begin with. It also helps to keep your skin tone even, reduces the appearance of brown sun spots and masks other skin discolouration issues.
Use a topical retinoid to smooth over those scars. It will also help with the discolouration as well. We would advise checking with a dermatologist if you believe a retinoid is required, as this is an ingredient which may not be suitable for sensitive skin. In fact, it may very well dry out your skin.
Retinoids are a common ingredient found in many skincare products, and can reduce the appearance by fine lines and wrinkles by boosting the skin’s collagen production. They also encourage the production of more blood vessels within the skin, improving skin colour. Other benefits include softening rough-looking patches on the skin and reducing the appearance of age spots.
All our spot creams and face cleansers contain this magic ingredient! It’s perfect for any kind of acne scars, and clears pores, reduces redness and swelling, as well as exfoliates the skin to keep it fresh and free of bacteria.
When you’re armed with the right information, you can easily beat acne. Add our day and night creams to your regimen to prevent acne – and if you already have acne scars – don’t worry, we offer a variety of mild and natural skincare products to help you reduce the appearance of all kinds of acne scars.
In fact, for reducing acne scars and hyperpigmentation, our products contain a number of essential ingredients:
Helps generate new skin cells while preventing it from environmental stress like pollution, sunlight and other toxins.
Exfoliating with AHAs loosens up the skin and gets rid of clogged pores, a key cause of acne. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) are water-soluble acids derived from sugary fruits. They aid in peeling away your skin’s surface so that new and more evenly pigmented skin cells can take their place. The end result is more even skin that’s smoother to the touch.
Chemical peels with lactic acid as an active ingredient can help you control pimples and acne, while also reducing the appearance of pores. It can improve skin texture after you’ve experienced acne scarring, decreases the appearance of pores and smoothens rough patches of skin.