If you’re no stranger to breakouts, you’ll know that sometimes only half the battle has been won once you’ve tackled a bad flare-up. While some types of acne will leave behind marks that tend to fade quickly, more severe acne won’t always be as forgiving, creating more prominent scars that can last for months or even years.
While it’s difficult to get rid of acne scarring completely, the good news is there are some ways to fade and diminish them. Here are 4 important things to know and how to avoid them in the first place.
1. A Few Things Can Cause Scarring
Put simply, when acne becomes inflamed (including blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and other blemishes) it can break down the walls of your pores, leaving open wounds on the surface of your skin. Your skin naturally produces collagen (a.k.a repair tissue) to repair and heal these wounds, which unfortunately can leave behind visible scars.
However, not all acne will lead to scarring; more often than not, the more severe and inflamed your acne is, the more severe the scars will be. While some people can be affected by scarring due to genetics, most scars form as a result of touching, picking, and squeezing blemishes and not seeking the right treatment.
2. There Are 4 Different Types of Acne Scars
Acne scars come in all shapes and sizes. Rolling, boxcar, and ice-pick scars create an indentation in the surface of the skin, while keloid scars are raised and feel bumpy to the touch. Keloid acne scars happen when your skin produces too much collagen (which means it’s doing its job a little too well!). It’s possible to experience all scars at once or just one or two.
Rolling: Usually appears as a wide, uneven, and shallow indentation in the skin, perhaps the most visible type of scar.
Boxcar: As the name suggests, these appear boxy or square-like. Similar to rolling scars they are usually wide in shape
Ice-pick: These appear narrow and small in circumference, but are usually very deep
Keloid: Unlike the other types of scars, these appear uneven, bulging, and raised.
3. There’s a Difference Between Acne Scars and Hyperpigmentation
Do you often experience reddish or brown marks on the surface of your skin after a breakout? This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which occurs as a result of skin trauma from mild blemishes. They tend to fade easily on their own or with brightening skincare ingredients, and they won’t affect the texture of your skin – this means they aren’t considered a true form of scarring!
Acne scars, on the other hand, will always impact the texture of your skin, making it uneven. They are a lot harder to fade or get rid of and sometimes require medical treatments to help smooth out the skin.
4. There Are Ways to Prevent and Treat Acne Scars
Unfortunately, the bad news is you can’t get rid of acne scars with skincare or home remedies alone. They require professional treatments and procedures including micro-needling, lasers, dermabrasion, and chemical peels. These types of treatments will work to boost skin cell growth and renewal, help your skin produce more collagen and elastin (which help to give more elasticity to your skin), and reduce the depth and intensity of your scars. However, they can be very pricy and you’ll need to visit a salon or a dermatologist to get them done professionally and correctly.
Yet some skincare ingredients can help minimize the appearance of acne scars (as well as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and there’s no harm in investing in them. Opt for a chemical exfoliant with AHAs and use it up to twice a week. This will help boost cell growth and dissolve the top layer of dead skin to reveal a newer layer of skin beneath. Next, go for a serum with Retinol (a.k.a vitamin A), which will help brighten and fade discoloration, as well as improve your skin cell’s turnover rate.
Above all, it’s important to note that prevention is always better than cure. So, one of the best ways to avoid acne scarring is by making sure you’re not touching, squeezing, or popping your acne – not even a little bit, no matter how tempting it is! Let your flare-ups heal without interfering with them or make sure to visit your dermatologist if it becomes severe.