What are the Causes of Acne Scars?
The struggle with acne is real for many people well into their adult years– and unfortunately, even those who are lucky enough to experience a drastic decline in acne related symptoms over time can still be left with terrible reminders of puberty-related skin issues through acne scarring.
As the name suggests, acne scars are the direct result of deep trauma to the skin related to acne. Not only do they give the skin an irregular appearance, but also dramatically change the overall texture of the skin and do not always improve with time – they can also manifest in areas of pitted or raised skin and can occur on either the face or the body.
Acne scarring occurs when the follicle, or pore, becomes engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The pores go on to swell, causing a break in the follicle wall. If the rupture occurs near the surface of the skin, the resulting lesion is usually minor and heals rather quickly. However, if there is a deep break in the follicle wall, more serious lesions will arise as the infected material spills out into the dermis to destroy healthy skin tissue.
To repair the damage done to the dermis, the skin forms new collagen fibers to provide the skin with additional strength and flexibility. Unfortunately, the finished “repair job” seldom looks as smooth and flawless as before the injury, resulting in the onset of acne scars.
Types of Acne that Cause Scarring
There are many different types of acne, some of which are way more prone to the causes of acne scars than others. Whiteheads and blackheads rarely result in scarring but inflammatory acne, such as acne cysts or nodules, are a lot more prone to create long-term scarring because these affect deeper layers of the skin. Several variables can cause an individual to be more likely to have acne scars such as:
- Picking and Touching:Picking at acne causes trauma to the skin that is more likely to result in scarring and prolong the healing process. Case in point: DO NOT pick, prod, or even touch the skin! This is among the most common causes of acne scars.
- Non-Treatment:Individuals who do not treat their acne sooner rather than later are more likely to scar.
- Genetics:If your family has a history of acne scarring, you are more likely to also experience the issue.
Acne Scar Prevention
Many steps can be taken to prevent the onset and causes of acne scars. First, try reducing inflammatory breakouts as quickly and as much as possible—i.e. make sure to treat acne as soon as it develops. The best thing one can do is to get their acne under control quickly and effectively, preferably with the help of an experienced dermatologist who can provide extra aid if necessary.
Next, always pass up the temptation to pick or squeeze any pimples, as doing so can force debris deeper into the dermis, spreading an infection to other tissue and worsening inflammation. Picking at scabs should also be avoided because scabs are a skin’s natural “bandage” to protect any wound that heals. Picking a scab off a wound before it is ready prolongs the healing process and increases chances of scarring.
In more severe cases, some may develop acne scars even while adhering to the most careful treatment plan. There are procedures that can help minimize the appearance of scarring. Here are some effective treatments that can improve skin texture and reduce acne scarring to consider if you happen to have no other options left to choose from:
- Chemical Peels: An acid-based solution is topically applied to either the entire face or merely the areas of pitted scarring to remove the outer layer of skin and to stimulate collagen repair.
- Dermal Fillers: Injectable hyaluronic acid like Belotero, Juvederm or Restylane is injected into depressions in the skin from acne scarring to help smoothen out the skin texture. Since dermal fillers are temporary, they will need to be done via multiple sessions to maximize scar repair.
- Laser Resurfacing: A fractional laser delivers pixelated columns of laser heat in a controlled and predictable manner to either heat the skin or to remove the skin to elicit scar remodeling. It is best to ask an expert about which laser would best fit your needs and lifestyle, as the number of recommended treatments and the amount of downtime involved often varies.
A consult with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist can determine how to customize these options for both you and your skin. To learn about the causes of acne scars or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Gabriel Chiu, a renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon whose utmost goal is to help his patients achieve their personal aesthetic goals in a caring and relaxing environment.