What are acne scars?
Persistent ongoing acne, or acne which is not treated effectively and early on, can result in temporary or permanent scarring of the skin.
What are the symptoms of acne scars?
Although acne can be treated, the condition itself can result in colour changes or texture changes to the skin. Acne lesions which have recently healed can have postinflammatory colour changes which are pink or purple flat patches. In darker skin types postinflammatory pigmentation changes can result in brown marks. In paler skin types the postinflammatory hypopigmentation can result in white marks in the skin.
Scarring of the skin from acne can be in the form of ice-pick scars which are deep and narrow, flat or thin scars, or keloid scars which are thick and lumpy.
What causes acne scars?
As acne lesions heal new collagen is formed to heal the injury which creates a scar. Picking or scratching of lesions can exacerbate the formation of scars. Persistent ongoing acne which is not treated early can result in scarring.
Who is at risk of acne scars?
Anyone who suffers from acne is at risk of developing scars. Not treating the acne early so that the acne is ongoing and persistent can increase the likelihood of scarring.
How do you treat acne scars?
The first step is to address the underlying cause so you should see a GP to diagnose and treat acne. If the acne is ongoing or severe you should see a Dermatologist. A Dermatologist can prescribe a broader range of medications for treating acne.
Treating acne early will help to avoid or minimise the risk of acne scarring.
Normally a Dermatologist will advise waiting six months once acne has been treated in order to address acne scarring. This is because the skin will go through a healing process itself which will help reduce brown marks, red marks and there will be some improvement in the texture of the skin. During this period a personalised skincare regime can help accelerate the skins natural healing process and start to reduce and minimise scarring. The personalised skincare regime will include medical-grade skincare and may include vitamin-C, topical tretinoin (which can not be used while pregnant or while being treated with oral vitamin-A), glycolic acid, polyhydroxy acids.
It is a myth that sun exposure will help improve the appearance of the skin and it is important that a daily sunblock is used to minimise pigmentation issues post acne treatment. Skincare that is non-comedogenic will help avoid break-outs.
Dermal fillers can be injected into deeper scars to help fill the depressions. The clinician will use a fine needle to ‘break’ the bond formed under the base of the scar. Although dermal fillers are a temporary solution and will need repeated over a period of time the hyaluronic acid within the filler can help the body generate collagen to heal the area.
Steroid injections can help flatten keloid scars caused by acne. Unfortunately there is no permanent cure for keloid scars and they can re-occur.
Chemical peels can help improve the texture of the skin and also help minimise the risk of further break-outs.
Laser resurfacing can be effective in treating more persistent scars. The trauma caused by the laser triggers the skin to produce collagen to heal itself and minimise the scars. A course of laser treatments is normally required and can work effectively in conjunction with chemical peels and personalised skincare.
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