Here’s How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars For Good, According To Dermatologists
What’s worse than a breakout? The parting gift it leaves behind, aka acne scars. The truth is that acne scars are super common for anyone who deals with breakouts. “A study showed that one-third of acne patients experience scarring,” says Dr Michelle Henry, a clinical instructor in dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. So…you’re not alone.
Scars show up as acne erythema—or red marks— in lighter-skinned patients, and as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation—or brown marks—in darker skin tones, says Dr Y. Claire Chang, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. In some cases, skin texture can become permanently uneven and pitted.
Before you dive into how to get rid of acne scars (don’t worry—your complete guide is coming below!), you need know why they happen.
What are the different types of scars?
All scarring stinks, but there are different types based on their appearance. The depth, width, and duration of an acne cyst will determine the type of scar. Here’s your guide:
- Ice pick: These are deep but narrow scars. They look as if an ice pick literally damaged the skin.
- Boxcar scar: Sunken scars that have sharp boxy edges.
- Rolling scar: Sunken scars with smooth or wavy edges.
- Hypertrophic scar: Raised scars, especially around the edges.
What causes acne scarring?
“Pimples cause a lot of inflammation in the skin, and the way many skin types respond to inflammation and injury is to release colour from cells,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. “You can see this happen with insect bites, cuts, and yes, pimples.”
The good news: Red and brown acne scars will likely resolve on their own with time, says Dr Chang. But in case you needed another reminder not to pick your pimples, messing with them can lead to worse discolouration and an increased risk of scarring, she adds.
While deeper, pitted scars don’t respond to OTC treatments (you’ll need to go to see a derm for lasers, chemical peels, or other treatments), there are certain at-home ingredients that can get rid of brown and red acne scars a little faster. So next time you’re dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on your face, try one of these treatments to get rid of acne scars (and keep them from getting worse):
So how do I get rid of acne scars?
1. Use a retinoid.
Using a retinoid regularly will stimulate collagen production to fill concave scars and soften the edges. All of this will improve skin’s overall texture.
For her patients, Dr Henry like Epiduo Forte, a prescription medication that combines a retinoid with benzoyl peroxide to fight acne and improve skin tone and texture. But if you’re looking for an over-the-counter retinoid option, she recommends one with between 0.5 and one percent retinol, like PCA’s.
2. Up your exfoliation game.
Apply a product with glycolic acid to get rid of dead skin cells. Think of it as chemical sandpaper—it will soften and smooth the edges of your scar over time. These peel pads from Peter Thomas Roth contain 10 percent glycolic acid plus two percent salicylic acid to exfoliate your skin and treat those dark acne scars, says Dr Chang.
This contains salicylic acid, which is ideal for this type of scarring because it prevents future zits while chemically exfoliating skin to fade dark spots faster. Available at Zando.
3. Don’t skip on sunscreen.
The most important acne scar treatment in your arsenal is actually SPF. Sunscreens help tremendously with reducing hyperpigmentation associated with scars, says Dr Henry. Bonus: It also prevents your acne scar from getting any darker.
The most important acne scar treatment in your arsenal is actually SPF. Try this climate-adapting sunscreen offering SPF 30 protection, as well as UVA, high-energy visible light and infrared radiation protection. Available at Delta Medical Skincare.
4. It might sound weird, but try to avoid coconut oil.
Some people like this ingredient to soothe inflammation, but on the face it can do the opposite. It can actually clog pores and cause scars, says Dr. Henry.
5. For faster results, try a laser treatment.
Dr. Henry recommends the Fraxel Dual laser or Lutronic Infini laser for acne scarring, specifically rolling or boxcar scars. Both lasers create micro-injuries in the skin (don’t worry, they’re basically invisible), which activate the production of collagen as they heal.
If you’re noticing more post-inflammatory redness than brown pigmentation, try the VBeam or IPL laser, which both targets the red capillaries.
6. Do a chemical peel.
A peel can improve skin’s tone and texture, helping to reduce the appearance of scars. While these can be good for rolling and boxcar scars, ice pick scars may require a more intense peel, like TCA (trichloroacetic acid) cross therapy. In this treatment, high strength TCA is applied to the base of the scar to induce healing.
7. When in doubt, ask your derm about cortisone.
For raised (hypertrophic) scars, Dr Henry often treats them with a shot of dilute cortisone to reduce inflammation and help flatten the scar.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com