Acne can be very mild, resulting in a few lone blemishes, or it can be severe when it occurs on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and back. Pustules and deeper cysts occur with very severe acne and scarring may result if the condition is not cared for properly. These scars may be visible for a lifetime. Here’s what your can do to prevent these scars from forming, and treat them if they do develop.
Preventing Acne Scars
Never pick or squeeze acne blemishes. This can lead to the spread of acne and the development of acne scars. Instead, there are a number of treatment methods that can be used to care for acne and prevent the development of scars. Herbs such as chamomile, lavender, juniper, bergamot, dandelion root, Echinacea, poke root, witch hazel, and burdock root can be used to reduce toxicity, improve the skin’s condition and treat acne. Vitamin supplements can also be helpful as vitamins A, C, E and B6 are vital for healthy skin. Also, avoid exposing your skin to the sun’s rays. Initially, sun exposure may dry out an acne blemish, but over time, unprotected sun exposure can damage the skin and further aggravate problem acne.
Types of Acne Scars
Medical professionals have developed a acne scarring classification system that aids in the diagnosis and treatment of many acne scars. Scars may be classified as ice pick, boxcar, or rolling.
Acne Scars – Ice pick
As their name implies, ice pick acne scars are thin, sharp scars. The skin looks as though it has been sliced with an ice pick. These scars are narrow, but deep, extending into the deep dermis or subcutaneous layer.
Acne Scars - Boxcar
Unlike ice pick scars, boxcar scars do not taper to a point. Instead, they are round pits that have sharp vertical edges. Skin resurfacing techniques such as dermabrasion or laser resurfacing may be used to treat shallow boxcar scars. Deeper scars require full-thickness treatment techniques.
Acne Scars - Rolling
Rolling scars appear to have a rolling or undulating texture. They are the result of folds in the skin to the subcutaneous tissue below. Rolling scars must be treated by breaking up the fibrous bands that are causing the skin to fold or roll. Subcutaneous incision is the method most commonly used to treat this condition.
Acne Scar Treatment
Dermal fillers such as fat, collagen, hyaluronic acid derivatives, and polytheyl-methacrylate microspheres with collagen can be injected into acne scars to raise the surface of the skin and give a smoother look. The injection of dermal fillers does not permanently correct acne scars. The results are temporary, so further injections are necessary.
Deep acne scars such as ice pick and deep boxcar scars can be treated with the punch excision method. This procedure uses a punch biopsy tool that looks similar to a round, sharp cookie-cutter. It comes in diameters ranging from 1.5 mm to 3.5 mm, and the correct size can be chosen to match the size of the scar. Local anesthesia is used to remove the scar tissue and suture the edges together. If a new scar should develop in the old one’s place, it will now be easier to treat with a skin resurfacing technique.
This technique can also be performed with a skin graft, where the scarred skin is removed and that area is filled with a skin graft taken from behind the ear. Some kind of skin resurfacing technique will still likely be needed to correct any differences in the skin’s color and texture.
This method of surgically correcting acne scars uses the same punch tool that is used in the punch excision method. It is used on deep boxcar scars that have sharp edges and normal appearing bases. With the punch elevation method, the base of the scar is excised leaving the walls of the scar intact. The excised base is then sutured to the surface of the skin to fill the void. There are fewer incidences of color and texture differences with this technique and less chance of developing another visible scar.
Rolling scars can be treated with subcutaneous incision. This method is used to break up the fibrous bands that cause the skin to roll or appear undulated. Local anesthesia is inserted under the skin with a special beveled needle that remains parallel to the skin’s surface. The needle is then used to gently cut the fibrous bands with a piston like motion. Bruising is likely to occur with this method, but it will usually fade in about one week.
Laser resurfacing is a popular treatment used to cure many skin defects. Carbon dioxide and YAG lasers are the two most common types used for the laser resurfacing of acne scars. Using the controlled beam of a laser, the top layer of skin is burned to a precise depth. The skin then heals itself by replacing the lost skin with new skin.