Acne can affect a person’s emotional health and well-being by making them feel less confident and more self-conscious around others, causing frustration and embarrassment. Statistically, women are more prone to acne than men – particularly during puberty and pregnancy.
There are multiple options for treating acne and reducing the appearance of scars, including natural and specialised skincare, supplements, laser treatments, phototherapy and prescription medication.
What are the different types of acne scarring?
There are three main types of acne, each requiring a different treatment approach.
These scars are small indentations on the skin. They have the following variations:
Icepick scars are small scars that look like pinpricks.
Boxcar scars have larger indentations with transparent edges.
Rolling scars have unclear edges giving the skin a rolling or undulating appearance.
This scarring occurs when the skin does not make enough fibroblasts in the healing process. Fibroblasts are skin cells crucial for wound healing and collagen production.
These occur when the skin makes too many fibroblasts while healing an acne spot, causing a raised scar.
These are similar to hypertrophic scars, but their edges are usually thicker, and their colour is darker and redder than the rest of the skin. They often itch or hurt.
To lessen the impact of acne scarring at home, try the following techniques:
Some remedies may cause a worsening of symptoms or other problems, so people should only use them with caution.
Home remedies that people have traditionally used to treat acne scars include:
Black seed oil may help with skin pigmentation.
Rosehip oil may help reduce discolouration in postsurgical scars.
Aloe vera, combined with manuka honey, may help scar-free healing of wounds.
Over-the-counter remedies containing the following ingredients may help reduce the appearance of acne scars. However, be aware that over-the-counter creams and lotions are unlikely to remove or flatten a raised scar completely.
Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble BHA. It is a naturally occurring compound often used as the primary ingredient in acne skin care products. It helps clear dirt, skin cells, and other pore debris to prevent acne.
Some people might experience redness, dryness, and irritation on the face. You should always follow a product’s instructions to avoid these potential problems. Before using it over a larger area, we recommend you do a patch test on a small skin area to confirm that you are not sensitive to the active ingredient.
Topical retinoids may improve acne scars caused by inflammation, reduce the size of acne lesions, speed up the production of new cells and lighten the appearance of hyperpigmented acne scars.
People using retinoids for acne or scar treatment should wear sunscreen outdoors because the retinoids make the skin sensitive to the sun.
Alpha hydroxy acids
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble acids made from fruits. They are popular in peels and toners as they help remove the top layer of skin, causing dead skin cells to fall off quicker and reveal new skin. Acne sufferers often use AHAs to reduce the look of inflammation and scarring.
Most doctors and skincare companies recommend starting with a low concentration of acids and slowly increasing it to the highest level the skin can tolerate. This allows the skin to acclimate to the new chemicals and reduces side effects, like swelling, burning, and itching. Always follow the product’s instructions.
Lactic acid is a type of AHA manufactured from milk lactose, not fruit. It removes dead skin cells, reduces the appearance of scars, and smoothens the skin. Lactic acid peels may also help lighten dark scar tissue and should be tested on a small skin patch before use.
Medical-grade silicone reduces redness and inflammation and disrupts the molecular processes involved in hypertrophic and keloid scar formations. In addition, silicone helps the skin to shrink excess collagen and repair broken blood vessels.
Skin specialists can inject a corticosteroid solution directly into a hypertrophic scar or keloid, which may help reduce its size. Steroids disrupt collagen fibres, reducing the amount of scar tissue beneath the skin. Steroids are also anti-inflammatory agents and reduce swelling, inflammation and itching.
Microneedling is the process of pushing tiny needles into the skin surrounding a scar. The body responds by making more collagen, filling the scar and smoothing the skin. This may reduce the appearance of atrophic acne scars. Manual micro-needling punctures microscopic holes into the skin epidermis, enabling active skincare products to penetrate deeper into the epidermis for enhanced effects.
Fractional Laser targets minute skin sections with laser light, creating microscopic holes in the topmost layers of the skin. As a result, the skin looks tighter due to immediate collagen shrinkage and is followed by long-term stimulation of fibroblasts, which will produce new collagen over the following months. In addition, the surrounding, non-affected areas of skin facilitate faster healing, aiding the body’s natural recovery process and giving dramatic results without the significant downtime associated with traditional ablative laser procedures.
If other treatments do not help lessen acne scars, a doctor can use a scalpel to remove them. However, surgery alone may not be enough to solve the problem, and a doctor might recommend further treatment.
Light therapy is highly effective for acne scars and other types of scarring. Some of the benefits of light therapy include:
The treatments are safe.
The treatments are pain-free.
They are safe for all skin types.
They are safe for all colours of skin.
They can be used in conjunction with other therapies.
They work on all kinds of scars.
Book a free consultation with Ruth, the lead healthcare professional
at our Skin Rejuvenation Clinic.