Can Acne Scars Be Treated Effectively?

acne scarsTypes of Acne Scars and Effective Ways to Remove Them

More people experience acne than don’t, whether it is a mild case or a more severe, persistent one. It is an embarrassing condition, and those with bad cases are often teased and subject to mean comments by others. Self-esteem suffers and depression is common. Unfortunately, the embarrassment doesn’t always end once the skin has cleared. Many people are left with acne scars that are as troubling as the original condition.

Types of Acne Scars

There are a number of different types of acne scars, each named after its appearance.

  • Icepick scars are so called because they give the appearance of having been created with a blow from an icepick. They are usually smaller than 2 millimeters (mm) in diameter, but are fairly deep.
  • Boxcar scars are rectangular or polygonal, with sharply defined corners. They are most often seen on the cheeks and temples, and may be deep or shallow. They somewhat resemble chicken pox scars. Icepick and boxcar scars are the most common.
  • Rolling scars lend a rippled appearance to the skin. They are caused by damage to the underlying layers of the skin, and are often wide and shallow.
  • Hypertrophic scars have a lumpy appearance, and result from cystic or nodular acne. They are most common on the back and chest, but can occur anywhere.

How to Treat Acne Scars

  • Chemical peels are the most common medical treatment because they are the least expensive and the least invasive. They are most effective on boxcar and discoloration scars. Icepick and rolling scars cannot be completely removed because they are so deep, but repeated treatments may be effective in significantly diminishing them.
  • Dermabrasion techniques, in which the top layer of the skin is actually removed so that it grows back in uniformly smooth, is another technique that is often used. In people with darker skin, it may result in permanent lightening of the treated area.
  • Laser treatment is best for boxcar and rolling scars.
  • Hypertrophic scars can be treated with injections of steroid or by cryotherapy, which is freezing the affected area with liquid nitrogen.

How to Prevent Acne Scars

It is possible to prevent acne scarring by treating skin well during and between breakouts. The primary rule is that pimples must never be picked at, no matter how tempting. Picking leads to skin damage that results in scarring. The more hydrated and well-nourished skin is, the less susceptible it will be to scarring, so a smart skin care program is important, too. A routine of exfoliation – to remove dead skin cells and allow living cells to get more oxygen – and moisturizing – to provide skin with healthy hydration and control overproduction of oil – will help skin to resist scarring.

can be just as embarrassing as pimples – perhaps worse, since they are frequently more permanent. Steps should be taken to prevent them from forming in the first place, by taking care of skin and not picking at pimples. However, should scars form anyway, they can be treated. Surgical resurfacing of the skin is one option. There are also over-the-counter products available which have been shown to effectively smooth skin and erase discoloration. They include lotions, gels, and peels.

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