Apart from the irritation and trauma that a sufferer has to face because of acne, there is yet another element which causes him as much, if not more, agony. This pertains to the scars that acne often brings in its wake. Trying to prevent these and then trying to eliminate them once they have appeared, is a cause of great concern to the concerned individual. The reason for so much concern is that while acne is thought to be a temporary condition, the lesions and scars which form are perceived to be of a more permanent nature. There are, no doubt, treatments available these days which are quite effective, but some types of acne cause deep scarring which aren`t possible to cure. This is why, to avoid the psychological trauma and the expenses of trying to treat the lesions and living with the disfigurement, it is so important to avert acne scarring. What I will try to do here is to talk about the various types of acne scars and to give you advice on how to treat them. But primarily, I will guide you on how to prevent these scars in the first place by eradicating the root cause of your acne.
The Causes and Types of Acne Scars and their Diagnosis
Studies indicate that acne scars mostly come about as a result of severe acne which causes nodules and cysts to form in the deeper layers of the dermis. Other causes include damage caused to the skin by picking or popping acne, infection, cystic acne which works its way deep into the dermis and overgrown skin tissues. It has also been found that some people, irrespective of the type of acne they contract, are more prone to the process of scarring. And acne scars sometimes occur because the body`s wound healing process sometimes goes askew, whether it be an improper deposit of collagen or the formation of new capillaries or a warped response to the inflammation or anabolic and catabolic phases: all these are meant to be part of the body`s natural healing phase. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that, if you do not wish to be permanently scarred by acne, treat the damage as soon as you can.
In essence, acne scars are of two types– scars which have formed due to an increase in skin tissue formation and those which have formed because of a loss of skin tissue.
Scars which form because of an increase in skin tissue:
Where there are increased skin tissues, the most commonly found acne scars are keloids scars. These scars are more likely to be found on people with dark skins and appear when an excess of collagen is formed by cells as part of the healing process. These scars are usually smooth and are shaped irregularly.
Scars which form because of the loss of skin tissues:
Acne spots: the skin surrounding these scars generally turn brown or red. In most cases they gradually fade away by themselves or after the application of some topical scar treatment. A similar fading away can be noticed in the case of post inflammatory hyper pigmentation but the use of MSM has often hastened the process.
Ice-pick lesions: as the name suggests, these acne scars look like ice which has been riddled with an ice pick. Most commonly they appear on the cheeks and the scars can sometimes be deep and sometimes superficial. These scars are more difficult to get rid of than acne spots.
Depressed fibrotic scarring: these scars mostly form as a result of deep nodules and are white and rigid. They are characterized by steep sides and sharp margins.
Atrophic scar macules: scars of this variety are generally soft, small and white and are distensible.Other types of scars include rolling acne scars which come about because the surface of the skin gets stuck to the subcutaneous layer. Also, there are boxcar scars which are characterized by vertical edges and round indentations.
Treatment of Acne Scars
Just as the discoloration that accompanies an acne attack fades away slowly, so do most acne scars. However, some scars prove more difficult to smoothen away and require some manner of treatment whether it be topical treatment or surgical cosmetic intervention. Different scars require to be tackled differently. And there are even scars which require to be treated using a combination of more than one elimination method.
A large number of treatments exist for smoothening over scars and these include: pulsed laser technology, dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser resurfacing, punch techniques, collagen injections and creams.
Collagen injection involves injecting collagen or fat under the skin. This treatment is generally administered in the case of soft scars, whether deep or shallow. However, the effects of collagen are not long lasting and injections have to be repeated every 6 months. Also, it should be noted that collagen has some adverse side effects and allergic reactions could also develop.
Microdermabrasion is where tiny particles are passed through a vacuum tool with the purpose of scraping the external top layer of the skin. This process, which is only effective with mild scarring, acts as a stimulant and enhances the growth of new cells.
Laser resurfacing is a treatment involving the flattening and resurfacing of the skin layer by the use of laser thus making the scars more even with the surface of the skin. This, to an extent, camouflages the scars. However, this method often causes undesirable side effects such as infection, a reddening of the skin and can sometimes even aggravate the scars. Studies have indicated that laser treatment works better on newly formed scars rather than on old ones.
Punch grafting means slicing open the acne scar right up to the fat layer and stitching it up by means of a small skin graft. We give you the recommended treatments for the various types of scars acne brings in its wake. Post hyper pigmentation marks are best tackled with MSM or Alpha lipoic acid acne cream.
Dermabrasion or laser resurfacing is the suggested treatment for ice pick scars. Flat or thin scars should be dealt with by administering Collagen injections, which should not be used for ice pick scars. Keloids acne scars can be brought under control with steroid injections, silicone gel dressing, crytotherapy or pulsed laser treatment combined with carbon dioxide laser vaporization (where the keloid scar is not too red or too thick).
Prevention of Scars after Acne
Ideally, acne scar treatments should be tried as a last resort because they are highly expensive and have too many side effects. The best approach would be to first try and get rid of the acne. This will work only if you identify the imbalance in your system which is causing the acne. Try to cure it by using natural methods and avoid taking topical acne treatments, medication that is available over the counter or steroids. Once you have corrected the internal symptoms that caused the acne, you will notice the acne disappearing gradually without leaving any scars. Moreover, you will be saved the expenses and harassment of taking treatments that cannot cure the acne permanently. We already know that acne and its resultant scarring are not a skin problem but are caused by internal imbalances. Once that is fixed there will be no acne and consequently no acne scarring. If you succeed in nipping the acne forming process from its roots then you will not have any acne scars to deal with either. In this way you will be permanently free from acne and acne scars and enjoy a flawless complexion forever.