Acne scars are marks or blemishes that stay on the skin after the acne has healed. Photo Courtesy: iStock
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Many consider popping acne a necessity to get rid of the accumulated puss. If you are one of them, you need to stop immediately. According to skincare experts, it is a direct invitation for acne scars to reside on your face. Acne scars are often stubborn. They sit on the face for months and even years. Coffee, apple cider vinegar, potato starch - nothing seems to deter these scars. This forces us to believe that the spots might never disappear. That's not entirely true. You can definitely clear these dark spots from your face. We have two skincare experts who dish out effective remedies to treat acne scars.
Causes of acne scars
Acne scars are marks or blemishes that stay on the skin after the acne has healed. Acne scars can develop in the form of holes, raised areas or dark spots. They might be red, brown or darker in colour. "They are typically a result of damage to the skin's collagen fibres during the acne healing process," says Dr Sunil Tolat, consultant dermatologist, Jehangir Hospital, Pune.
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They are primarily caused by the body's natural response to acne inflammation. When the skin tries to repair itself after an acne breakout, it can produce too much or too little collagen, which leads to alterations in the skin's texture and appearance, causing depressions or raised areas which we identify as acne scars. The severity and type of acne, as well as individual factors like genetics and skin type, can influence scar development.
Every kind of scar indicates the extent of damage to the skin's layers and helps experts look for suitable treatments.
1. Icepick scars: They are small, deep and narrow scars that resemble tiny pits or holes.
2. Boxcar scars: These are wider and shallower depressions having well-defined edges.
3. Rolling scars: Broad, shallow and irregularly shaped scars create a wavy appearance on the skin.
4. Hypertrophic scars: They are raised, thickened scars that can occur when the body produces too much collagen.
5. Keloid scars: These are raised, larger scars that extend beyond the initial acne site.
Possibility of cure
Acne scars can be persistent and might not vanish entirely, especially when left untreated. Yet, with suitable treatments and care, they can gradually become less noticeable. "While some scars can stay for months or even years, there are effective methods to minimise their appearance," says Dr Yojana Pokarna, MD Ayurveda, founder, Orijine Clinic.
Commenting on the time it takes for acne scars to heal and vanish, Pokarna says, "The duration differs from person to person and mainly relies on how severe the acne is and how effectively it is managed. Milder acne spots might clear up in a few weeks, but more serious cases could take longer."
Cosmetic treatment options
The treatment you opt for must depend on the severity of the scars. While minor scars can be treated with home remedies, scars that indicate excessive damage to the skin require professional treatment.
Tolat lists down some common treatments for acne scars
1. Chemical peels: This treatment seeks to remove the top layer of skin and stimulate collagen production.
2. Microdermabrasion: Under this treatment, professionals opt for exfoliation to improve skin texture and reduce scarring.
3. Microneedling: A cosmetic procedure that involves the use of needles to stimulate collagen production and help improve scar texture.
4. Laser therapy: This targets specific scar types and promotes collagen remodelling.
If you wish to consider alternatives to professional treatments and surgeries, Tolat recommends over-the-counter topical products (administered to the skin) having ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C and niacinamide that can help fade scars gradually.
Home remedies to treat acne scars
For most of the minor ailments, remedies lie in our own kitchen. You can prepare face packs using kitchen ingredients. Pokarna shares face packs that you can use to rid your face from dark spots.
1. Turmeric face pack:
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Yoghurt - 1 tbsp
Mix turmeric and yoghurt to form a paste. Apply it on your face and leave it on for 15 minutes.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, while yoghurt helps with gentle exfoliation. Turmeric also helps lighten hyperpigmentation and lends a natural glow to the skin. Further, it promotes an even complexion and thus lightens the acne spots as well. Yoghourt acts as a natural coolant which ensures the skin stays fresh.
2. Honey and lemon face pack:
Honey - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Mix honey and lemon juice, apply and leave it on for 20 minutes.
It helps hydrate the skin, and clear acne by drying it out naturally. Honey and lemon juice act as a natural moisturiser. It helps in achieving an even skin tone and brighten the skin.
3. Aloe vera face pack:
Fresh aloe vera gel
Apply aloe vera gel to your face and leave it on for 30 minutes.
A natural anti-oxidant having anti-bacterial properties, aloe vera soothes and helps in skin repair. It is known to remove bacteria from the skin which helps the formation of stubborn acne scars.
4. Oatmeal honey face pack:
Oatmeal - 2 tbsp
Yoghurt - 1 tbsp
Honey - 4-5 drops
Mix the ingredients into a paste, apply and leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
Oatmeal exfoliates and calms the skin. A combination of yoghurt and honey makes this oatmeal pack effective in boosting collagen production, improving your skin complexion, and reducing skin inflammation, all of which contribute towards improving the scar condition.
5. Cucumber face pack:
Cucumber slices or cucumber juice
Rub cucumber slices or massage the face with the juice and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Cucumber hydrates and refreshes the skin. They compose over 90 per cent of water, making them excellent for hydrating the skin. Well-hydrated skin appears plumper and more even-toned, which can help minimise the visibility of scars. Besides, cucumbers are also natural coolants. Inflammation is a common factor in acne and scarring, so reducing inflammation with the use of cucumber can potentially help scars appear less prominent.
"These face packs take about two months of consistent use along with following the right diet and lifestyle to show results," says Pokarna. The results, however, may vary from patient to patient.
You can also try out certain herbal creams with components like aloe vera, liquorice or tea tree oil. They too help lessen the visibility of acne scars. It's advisable to seek advice from a dermatologist to discover the one that suits you best.
Along with this, ensure sufficient intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This combined helps the body to heal acne scars faster.
Acne scars can have a significant impact on a person's self-esteem and confidence. They may cause emotional distress and make individuals self-conscious about their appearance. One can prevent the formation of acne scars by adopting the right habits.
Preventing acne scars starts with proper acne management. Avoid picking or squeezing pimples, as this can worsen scarring. Additionally, shield your skin from the sun since UV rays can increase the visibility of scars. Avoid doing anything that triggers acne like eating unhealthy food, not drinking sufficient water, not getting enough sleep, not cleaning your face to get rid of pollution and dust, etc.
Seek professional guidance from a dermatologist who can provide tailored solutions to improve skin health and reduce the visibility of scars.
Be patient, as scar improvement often takes time and consistent effort. Remember that you're not alone in dealing with acne scars, and seeking help is a positive step toward healthier skin and improved self-confidence.
Disclaimer: This information does not replace professional medical advice. Consult a qualified specialist or your physician for personalised guidance.