If you’ve ever suffered from acne (as 80% of us have), then you know that getting rid of the whitehead or lump is only half the battle. Often, getting rid of the scar left behind after picking or popping is even more difficult than eliminating the pimple itself. Why is that? And what can we do about it?
We spend a lot of time talking about acne causes and treatments, but today we’re going to discuss acne’s ugly aftermath – dark spots, hyperpigmentation and the many types of acne scars. How do you get rid of them? With microneedles? laser treatments? Read on to find out!
What are the different types of acne scars?
There are a variety of marks, bumps and discoloration left behind after a pimple has healed, but they can be categorized in two general types: hyperpigmentation and acne scars.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is not considered to be acne scarring, but it is extremely common and occurs in all skin types. Hyperpigmentation is the discoloration left on the skin after a pimple has flattened and is commonly known as dark spots.
- On the other hand, actual acne scars are marks you can feel on the skin, whether depressed or raised. Atrophic scars are “sunken in” scars, where a pimples has left a small “pit” in the skin that creates a sunken appearance. Hypertrophic scars are scars that are raised due to an excessive amount of collagen or tissue left from acne (or other injuries).
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (aka dark spots)
Treating dark spots is easier than treating scars, so we’ll start there. Hyperpigmentation colors can range from light pink to red, or even purple. Dark spots are the most common side effect of acne, and they will fade and lighten over time, even if left alone.
Treatment options: To accelerate the healing process, you can use brightening products like Vitamin C or tranexamic acid in your skincare routine. Choosing products with active ingredients also increases cell turnover, so fresh new skin can appear sooner rather than later.
RELATED READ: The New Kid on the Skincare Scene: Tranexamic Acid
Tip: Wear your sunscreen! Not only does sun protection prevent acne, but it also prevents dark spots from getting even darker.
Atrophic scars are the harshest type of acne scars, because they are depressions in the skin. Since they result from a loss of tissue, these deep scars require more significant treatment.
- Ice pick scars are small, sharp-pitted scars. They are wider at the skin’s surface and narrow into a point as they reach deeper into the skin.
- Boxcar scars are wide, deep scars that are a few millimeters wide, with sharp edges that go straight down into the skin. They are the most common type of acne scar.
- Rolling scars are broader depressions that create a wavy, uneven surface (or “rolling”) texture on the skin. Unlike boxcar scars, rolling scars do not have sharp edges.
Treatment options: There are a variety of ways to address atrophic scars, but most of them require in-office treatments: microneedling, subcision, dermabrasion, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing therapy and chemical peels.
Hypertrophic scars occur when there is an overgrowth of repair tissue. They are most commonly found on the body (shoulders, chest, torso and back), but can also appear around the jawline. Keloid scars are a type of hypertrophic scar. In this severe form, the scar is larger than the blemish area itself.
Treatment options: To minimize hypertrophic scars, you can try in-office treatments such as: microneedling, dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser resurfacing therapy or steroid injections to reduce scar tissue.
Start simply and slowly
The first step is to determine which type of acne scarring you have, then start with the easiest treatment option, or the one you are most comfortable with.
At home, you should exfoliate consistently, as it helps to slough off the scarred skin and promotes skin regeneration. Also, active ingredients perform best when you start at a low percentage and move to a higher one when your skin gets used to it.
When it comes down to it, acne scars are not going to disappear overnight. So just take it one step at a time, and try your best to prevent new scars from forming (hands off that pimple!). Mighty Patch can help with that.