Acne can affect all skin types and all ages and may be caused by a combination of genetics, hormone changes, health, stress, and or environmental factors. Hormones can stimulate excess sebum (or oil) production, In turn, excess oil, dry skin and debris combined can become trapped in the pore. If the pore becomes blocked the acne bacteria can cause inflammation and can make the skin more susceptible to other bacteria.
What Are Acne Scars?
Acne scars are marks left behind after the acne itself has gone away. It’s common to have scarring.
Treatment can help make them less noticeable. A dermatologist (skin doctor) can help you choose the right ones for you. They’ll look at your scarring and make recommendations based on the type of damage to your skin and how serious it is.
Types of Acne Scars
Acne can leave different types of scars depending on what kind it is and how you take care of it. There are at least seven types:
Ice pick: deep but small pits
Boxcar: sharp angles and edges; can be shallow or deep
Rolling: tend to be wide and shallow (a wavy look) caused by damage under the surface
Hypertrophic: raised scar tissue where acne was
Keloid: raised scar that’s larger than acne was
Dark spots or staining: skin looks red to purple
Perifollicular elastolysis: flesh-colored or yellow
Blackheads are one of the most common forms of acne. Although people who have oily skin are more vulnerable to blackheads, anyone can get them. They form when pores become clogged with a combination of dead skin cells and excess oil (sebum) from your sebaceous glands.
Acne Scar Clinical Treatment
You may need more than one kind of treatment to smooth your skin. Most are done in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient procedure at the hospital.
Skin resurfacing: The goal is to remove damaged layers of skin so that new, healthy skin appears. There are four major ways your doctor can do this:
Laser Removal: A laser creates a more even surface to your skin.
Dermabrasion. A rapidly spinning wheel with a rough surface removes damaged skin.
Chemical peel: A special type of acid removes the top layer of your skin. This can help with deeper scars.
Microdermabrasion. Tiny crystals sprayed onto the skin may help with mild scars.
New skin will begin to form about 7-10 days after resurfacing. The area may stay pink from several weeks to several months.
Dermal Fillers: Your doctor puts a filler (collagen or fat) into the damaged area with a needle. It puffs up the skin under the scar to help smooth it out. Because your body slowly absorbs the filler, the process needs to be repeated from time to time.
Microneedling (or rolling): The doctor rolls a device covered in tiny needles over your skin. It’s a safe way to stimulate the tissue under it to grow. You may have to do it several times. Sometimes, doctors call this collagen induction therapy.
Nonprescription Treatment for Acne
Soap and water. Gentle cleansing of the face with soap and water no more than two times a day can help with acne. However, this does not clear up acne that is already present. Aggressive scrubbing can injure the skin and cause other skin problems.
Cleansers: There are many cleansers and soaps advertised for treating acne. They often contain benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or sulfur.
Benzoyl Peroxide: For mild acne, you may try, or your doctor may recommend, treatment with a nonprescription drug that contains benzoyl peroxide. It’s believed that this compound works by destroying the bacteria associated with acne. It usually takes at least four weeks to work and it must be used continuously to keep acne at bay. Like many over-the-counter and prescription products, it does not affect sebum production or the way the skin follicle cells are shed, and when you stop using it, the acne comes back. It is available in many forms: creams, lotions, washes, foams, cleansing pads, and gels. Benzoyl peroxide can cause dry skin and can bleach fabrics, so take care when applying it. Consider wearing an old T-shirt to bed if you are applying it to your back or chest overnight.
Salicylic acid: On the skin, salicylic acid helps to correct the abnormal shedding of cells. For milder acne, salicylic acid helps unclog pores to resolve and prevent lesions. It does not have any effect on sebum production and does not kill bacteria. It must be used continuously, just like benzoyl peroxide, because its effects stop when you stop using it — pores clog up again and the acne returns. Salicylic acid is available in many acne products, including lotions, creams, and pads.
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