As if having pimples weren’t enough, acne scarring is an even longer-lasting reminder of your breakouts. If you are someone struggling with severe or cystic acne, your scars may change the way your skin looks, temporarily or permanently. Lasers are an excellent way to avoid long-term acne scarring.
Why does acne scarring happen? The acne lesion is an intense inflammatory reaction in the skin. This triggers changes in your pigment cells (melanocytes), blood vessels, and in severe scarring, the collagen and elastin fibers. All these changes can lead to a spectrum of acne scars: brown and dark to red to depressed, rolling or ice pick type scars. Sometimes, the development of an acne scar is just unavoidable. However, there are some simple things that you can do on your own to help prevent the formation of acne scars.
- Treat acne as soon as it develops: The best method to avoid acne scarring is to keep your breakouts to a minimum. Be proactive about your acne. Don’t simply wait to see if your skin clears up without any treatment. At the very least, start an OTC treatment immediately. Go see a dermatologist if your acne doesn’t get better or seems to be getting worse no matter what you do.
- Prevent inflammation, if possible: Remember, it is the inflammation that produces the changes in your skin and leads to scarring. So, don’t do anything that may further irritate your skin. This includes drying it out by over-washing, scrubbing, or using harsh brushes or abrasive scrubs. Also, don’t overuse your skincare products such as Retin A, astringents, or other drying agents. Dry doesn’t mean better…in many cases, it will just make it worse!
- Do NOT pick, pop or squeeze pimples: This isn’t cliché! Squeezing pimples can just make the infectious, inflammatory process worse and increase the potential for a scar to form. Go back and reread the above point. The goal is to minimize inflammation. Many times, we think the pimple will go away quickly if we pop it. Wrong! The damage that we do to our skin by picking takes WAY longer to heal than any pimple and there is a much greater chance of a permanent scar being left there in its place!
- Know your skin: Are you prone to keloids? Does every scratch, bug bite or burn on your skin leaving a red or brown make that stays forever? If so, get to the doctor’s office quickly. Waiting to treat your acne may just be a recipe for disaster. Take the reins and get control before things get out of control.
- Visit your dermatologist if you are experiencing extensive breakouts, deep acne, or acne cysts: If you have this type of acne, you are at a much greater risk of developing acne scarring. This type of acne is physically and emotionally painful. Don’t wait another day. Get help now for your acne!