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Are acne scars permanent?
The truth about acne scars.
In spite of the warnings from dermatologists, parental scoldings, and general disapproval from friends, we couldn’t help it: we tried to get rid of our zits ourselves when we should’ve let them be. Now, though we’ve passed the age where acne and blemishes no longer run our lives, we’re still dealing with the consequences –– our acne scars. The good news, however, is that they’re not permanent. Here’s what you need to know.
How are acne scars formed?
Acne scars, naturally, come from acne, and specifically, from inflamed blemishes, which occur when a follicle or pore becomes enlarged with excess oil, bacteria, or dead skin. When this happens, the pore swells up, causing the follicle’s walls to break. This is where scarring comes in. If that break happens near the surface of the skin, it’s usually a pretty minor wound and will heal quickly, leaving hardly any mark. However, the larger and deeper the inflamed pore, the more serious the legion, as the infected parts move into the surrounding dermis and infect the healthy skin tissue around it.
Our skin tries to respond quickly to the damage by forming new collagen, the protein which gives our skin its flexibility. However, think of this like putting a patch on a pair of jeans: even if you’re able to seal up the area with a similar fabric, it may not exactly match the original pants. This is what happens when our skin tries to heal those deeper lesions –– they never look exactly the same as the original.
Sometimes, our skin goes into overdrive trying to repair the lesion and overproduces collagen, which leads to the tissue on the surface of the skin to have a slightly raised or uneven appearance, which is another form of acne scarring.
Types of acne scars
Just like blemishes themselves, there are different types of acne scars, which means that there are different ways of managing them. Acne scars tend to fall into two camps: hypertrophic/keloid keloid scars, or atrophic/depressed.
HYPERTROPHIC OR KELOID
This is the type of scarring that we mentioned before, that comes from an overproduction of collagen, as the word “hyper” which comes from the Greek for “over” or “above.” As the acne wounds heal, that production of collagen results in a mass of raised tissue on our skin’s surface, leading to an uneven texture.
ATROPHIC OR DEPRESSED
This type of scarring is the exact opposite, when there is a lack of tissue, categorised as either “ice pick” or “box car” scars. Icepick scars are characterised by small, “obvious holes” in the skin –– think hitting ice with a skate and leaving a small hole in the surface –– whereas boxcar scars are more similar to chickenpox scars, and are usually round or oval in shape, with angled sides.
How to reduce them
While the word “scar” may cause you to think of these as permanent additions to your face, the good news is that acne scars can be treated, and, over time, can diminish in appearance. Think about it this way –– if our skin cells regenerate and turn over every 30-70 days, why wouldn’t this be possible? However, considering these are in fact scars, there are some steps that you can take to reduce them.
If you’ve ever browsed through the skin care aisles of a pharmacy or beauty supply store, chances are you’ve come across retinol. Retinol is derived from Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant which is essential for healthy skin. Vitamin A also stimulates fibroblasts - the cells responsible for producing collagen and developing tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy at the deepest layer.
That means that retinol can help your skin turn over, allowing fresh skin to take the place of the scarred ones. In SKIN FILTER, we use Beta Carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, for this exact reason –– to create an ingestible version of retinol, no topical application required.
For more severe scarring, a trip to the dermatologist is advised. Depending on the severity, your dermatologist may recommend a series of chemical peels, which work to remove the outer layers of your skin to remove the surface appearance, allowing the unscarred skin below to come to the surface. Before going this route, however, you may want to try over-the-counter chemical peels, to see if that makes a difference before shelling out the extra dollars.
Another option would be either ablative or non-ablative laser treatment, which work to remove thin layers of skin or stimulate collagen growth and tighten underlying skin, respectively, depending on the procedure. Ultimately, your dermatologist will be able to help you to determine the right course of treatment for your scarring.
How to prevent them moving forward
If there’s one thing we take away from our acne scars, can it finally be that we’ll stop picking at our zits? As much as we’d all love to be Dr. Pimple Popper, the reality is that those types of extraction techniques are best left to the professionals. But in the event that you do have a large blemish pop up, make sure to reduce the inflammation ASAP, with a spot treatment. By reducing the inflammation, you’re limiting the amount of damage that can happen to your skin, so that the inflammation doesn’t spread. If it seems like a simple spot treatment is too small for this, however, don’t be afraid of a visit to your dermatologist. They can always come in and save your skin with a shot of cortisone. And in the meantime, try out our new SKIN FILTER, which helps not only reduce long-term acne scars, but helps to fight blemishes, sun damage, and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles.
If you have acne, you know you’re not alone. The American Academy of Dermatology states around 50 million people in the USA experience acne breakouts every year. The aftermath of these breakouts: acne scars. They can show up in the form of small indentations, mottled texture, or redness on the skin, lingering on for longer than we’d like them to. The big question is, are acne scars permanent? Here’s everything you need to know.
How are Acne Scars Formed?
Let’s start with how acne makes an (unwelcome) appearance first. Acne is an inflammatory disorder of the skin, and breakouts occur when a follicle or pore gets blocked by excess oil, bacteria or dead skin cells. When this happens, the pore swells up and the follicle’s walls break down resulting in acne scars.
If the follicle walls break near the surface of the skin, it’s a minor wound that can usually heal quickly without leaving a mark behind. However, the larger and deeper the inflamed pore, the more serious the legion. This is because the infected parts spread into the surrounding dermis and infect the healthy skin tissue around it.
To repair the damage, skin produces new collagen (the protein that gives skin its elasticity). But just like patching up an old pair of jeans, the new “fabric” doesn’t quite match the original. The same goes for your skin, leaving acne scars and uneven texture behind.
What are the Different Types of Acne Scars?
Keloid or Hypertrophic Acne Scars
After a breakout, your skin can overcompensate by producing too much collagen to repair the area. This leads to tissue on the surface of the skin that gives a raised and uneven appearance to the former blemish.
Atrophic Acne Scars
Atrophic scars are the opposite, and occur when the skin is unable to regenerate tissue, so the blemish will heal underneath the normal layer of skin. The 3 main types include: “ice pick scars”, which appear like small, deep holes in the skin, “boxcar scars”, which are usually a round or oval shape (similar to chickenpox scars), and “rolling scars” caused by scar tissue under the skin that gives an uneven appearance on the surface.
How to Treat Acne Scars
Acne scars aren’t necessarily permanent, and there are ways to improve their appearance. Rule #1: never pick or squeeze at breakouts, this makes them worse. Scroll for more solutions.
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, an essential vitamin for healthy skin. Its job is to stimulate fibroblasts, the cells that produce collagen and tissue at the deepest layer of your skin, keeping it firm and elastic. By doing this, it encourages skin cell turnover, eventually smoothing the uneven texture of acne scars over time. If your skin feels too sensitised after topical retinol application, try SKIN FILTER as an ingestible alternative. Formulated with beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, it has all the benefits of retinol but without the associated irritation and dryness. Improving the appearance of long-term acne scars while also preventing further breakouts.
Your ingestible (irritation-free) retinol. Enhances radiance, smooths lines, calms blemishes.