Acne scars and acne scars treatment overview
Acne scars form after acne lesions are healed. Even without picking, squeezing, or touching the acne lesion, permanent acne scars can develop in the more severe forms of acne such as cystic acne.
Acne scars are classified into three main types:
- rolling acne scars – gently undulating scars without sharp borders;
- ice-pick acne scars – pitted scars which are round with deep depressions, shaped like a ‘v’;
- boxcar acne scars – flat, ‘u’ based shaped scars. Shallow boxcar acne scars affect the upper layers of the skin (shallow to mid-dermis layers) and deep boxcar acne scars affect the deeper layer of the skin (dermis).
Hyperpigmentation of the skin or darkening of the skin can also occur in those with deeper skin tones. Acne scarring may include redness in people with lighter skin tones.
Examples of acne scars
Image source: DermNet NZ
Acne scars treatment
Acne scar fade creams
Fade creams can be used to lighten hyperpigmentation or redness of the skin. Fade creams are available at any pharmacy, chemist, or drug store.
Natural alternative ingredients to fade creams include vitamin C, kojic acide (mushroom extract), and arbutin (bearberry extract).
Ablative laser therapy
Ablative laser therapy is an effective way of improving skin whose appearance has been damaged by acne scars. The ablative laser destroys the outer layer of the skin and new, smoother skin is formed when the wound heals. Ablative laser therapy is used to treat acne scars as well as sun-damaged skin, chickenpox scars, uneven skin tones, and wrinkles.
Non-ablative laser therapy
Non-ablative laser therapy is used to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin. Non-ablative laser therapy is a less intense therapy that does not damage the skin’s surface. Non-ablative laser therapy may be used in persons with milder scars. It will not be that effective in treating or getting rid of deep acne scars (such as ice-pick scars) caused by cystic acne.
Light therapy, chemical peels, and dermabrasion
Blue and red light therapy, chemical peels, and dermabrasion are other options of treating acne scars.
In severe acne scarring, surgery is an option. During the surgery, a minor procedure called punch excision cuts out deeply indented acne scars and stitches or skin grafts repair the hole left in the acne scar site.
Cortisone and steroid injections
Cortisone is injected directly into the acne scars to shrink and flatten them.
Unlike cortisone or steroid injections, collagen injections under the skin allow the skin to stretch and the acne scars are less noticeable. This type of acne scars treatment is temporary only as collagen is reabsorbed into the skin over time. The treatment must be repeated every 4 to 6 months.