Three types of acne scars you might be left with, and treatments that can help
Acne can leave scarring long after your spots have gone. Find out the three types of acne scar you can be left with, and the treatments that can help.
Acne can be an uncomfortable and irritating condition, and make you feel very self-conscious. But while it can be tempting to pop or pick at your spots, this can do more harm than good in terms of healing and scarring.
Sometimes, after acne eventually goes, it can leave you with scars on your face and back. These can be an unwelcome reminder of some of pain and associated with the condition, and even give you anxiety about your appearance.
There types of acne scars
Whether your pimple was infected or not can determine the type of acne scars you may have. Not every acne mark is the same, and if you want to successfully treat your acne scars, you first need to understand what type you have.
To help you, here are three types of acne scars you might have.
1) Boxcar scars
Boxcar scars are atrophic scarring that occurs because your skin can’t return to its original condition after healing from acne. These scars can look like oval or round depressions in your skin, ranging from red or dark brown, to the same colour as your surrounding skin.
Boxcar scars are typically associated with cystic acne, which is characterised by hard and painful cysts beneath your skin. When cystic acne heals, your skin may find it difficult to replace the collagen you lost, which results in dents or depressions.
2) Ice pick scars
Ice pick scars are acne scarring that takes on a pitted or sunken look. These scars can look like a hole has been punctured in your skin with a sharp object, like an ice pick.
These scars are usually less than 2mm wide, and are narrow, with deep indentations. Ice-pick scars can give the appearance of small craters on your cheeks.
3) Rolling scars
Rolling scars are severe types of ice-pick scars that create an uneven, wavy texture on your skin. They are not very deep and can become almost invisible when your skin is stretched. Rolling scars are caused by long-term inflammatory acne and can become more pronounced with age.
Six types of acne scar treatment that can help
If you want to reduce the appearance of acne scars, you need to follow the right skincare routine. You can also opt for treatment to eliminate or reduce them. Here are six types of acne scar treatment that can help.
Microneedling is the insertion of minute needles in the skin surrounding a scar to promote the production of collagen. This collagen can help to reduce the appearance of atrophic acne scars, giving you a smoother complexion.
According to a 2017 study, A Systematic Review of Treatments for Acne Scarring, microneedling as an effective treatment that improved between 31-62% of atrophic acne marks. However, some people reported that they experienced pain, red, and inflamed skin, which subsided over time.
2) Dermal fillers
For patients who have boxcar and rolling scars, dermatologists can sometimes recommend filling soft tissues in the acne marks. Some of the options for dermal fillers include:
- Collagen product
- Poly-L lactic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
The filling you decide on determines how often it will need to be topped up. For example, you might never need to replace polyacrylamide and silicon dermal fillers. Hyaluronic acid may, however needs replacing after three months.
3) Laser treatment
Laser treatment is an effective way to resurface your skin without using scrubs or chemicals. It removes the outermost layer of skin, uncovering the younger skin cells underneath, reducing the appearance of scarring. This can also help reduce the look and feel of raised scars, and the colour of hyper-pigmented scarring.
However, it is important to note that laser treatment is not suitable for everyone. Depending on the type of acne scar and skin, it can cause a reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. So it is important to speak to a professional before seeking lase treatment.
Corticosteroid and steroid injections can help flatten and soften raised acne scar tissue if you suffer from keloid or hypertrophic scars.
5) Chemical peels
Chemical peels can be used to reduce the appearance of acne marks caused by severe acne – as long as your skin is suitable. Studies show that 73.3% of patients who underwent a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel saw a 70% improvement, while patients who used glycolic acid saw an improvement of just 25%.
6) Home remedies
If you don’t want to undergo medical treatment to reduce the appearance of acne scarring, you may decide to try a home remedy. Here are some popular options:
- Rosehip oil
- Aloe vera
- Black seed oil
However, it is important to note that these remedies are are not scientifically tested, and some people experience irritation after use. So always start with a patch test and proceed with caution.
Get expert help for your acne scars
As with any medical treatment, it is essential to speak to a qualified dermatologist before embarking on treatment, to check that you are a suitable candidate and be aware of, and minimise, any potential adverse effects.
Read more acne advice
You can read more advice on acne in these articles:
- Decoding your acne: What do your spots really reveal about your health?
- Understanding adult acne: Why acne scars are more than skin deep
- Seven surprising things that could be causing your acne
- Why pollution could be causing your acne – and how to prevent it
Photo by Barbara Krysztofiak