Having acne is certainly a difficult situation to live with. For most of us, it can go as far as feeling uncomfortable and losing confidence. In fact, having acne marks from the rash can sometimes make you feel even worse.
However, it is important to understand that having such scars does not mean that it is the end of everything. Fortunately, it can still be treated. So how exactly do you get rid of acne marks? To find out, we asked Dr. Marisa Garshick, a leading Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery board-certified dermatologist and BioRepublic advisor. Keep reading to see what she has to say about its causes, home remedies, and medical treatments.
How are acne marks caused?
According to Dr. Garshick, “When acne breakouts penetrate the skin badly, they can damage the skin and the tissues underneath. As acne clears up, the body works to repair this damage. Minor abrasions to the outer layer of skin (epidermis) do not tend to cause scarring because the body can more easily regenerate the skin’s original structure. But when the dermis (the layer below the epidermis) is deeply affected, the skin has to produce new collagen fibers, resulting in new tissue that is often different in pigmentation and texture from the original part of the skin.
She warns, “Acne marks can form by scratching acne and associated scabs. While popping pimples can effectively shed debris and excess cells, they can further irritate the dermis and affect surrounding tissue. This can lead to more aggressive breakouts and eventually scarring.
Dr. Garshick lists the three types of acne scars:
Atrophic scars – “These scars appear as small indentations in the skin. They occur when the skin does not produce enough fibroblasts in the healing process. Fibroblasts are cells that play a crucial role in wound healing and collagen synthesis.
Hypertrophic scars – “These occur when the skin produces too many fibroblasts as the acne patch heals, causing a raised scar.”
Keloid scars – “These are similar to hypertrophic scars but are usually much thicker than the original acne patch. They are usually darker than the surrounding skin and can be red or brown. Keloid scars can also cause symptoms , such as itching or pain.
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How to get rid of acne marks?
When it comes to getting rid of acne marks, Dr. Garshick’s number one tip is to avoid picking them. She points out, “Tackling rashes or already existing scars can often lead to more inflammation and make the scars worse, so it’s best to avoid squeezing, poking or touching the scars.”
She also shares that “a variety of remedies are available over-the-counter, many of which can help people manage their acne and reduce the appearance of scars.” Below are some of the home remedies Dr. Garshick suggests you try:
Apply an exfoliating sheet mask for acne
“Using a chemical exfoliant…[such as] glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid are one of the best things you can do for your blemish-prone skin. Regular use will rejuvenate your skin and reduce scars and dark spots from past acne breakouts and prevent new blemishes from appearing.
When it comes to product recommendations, Dr. Garshick mentions “your best bet is BioRepublic’s Extra Exfoliation Sheet Mask.” She adds, “This face sheet mask for acne uses lactic acid to destroy bacteria and unclog your clogged pores. Unlike other acids, lactic acid is gentle enough for blemish-prone skin.
Include retinoids and AHAs in your skincare routine
“Certain topical retinoids can help get rid of acne scars,” Dr. Garshick notes. “Topical retinoids work to regulate skin cell turnover and may improve the overall appearance of skin tone and texture. Retinoids may also help lighten hyperpigmented acne scars, including those in people with darker skin An example includes Differin Gel.
Another ingredient that could help get rid of acne marks and discoloration from scars is alpha hydroxy acid. Also known as AHAs, Dr. Garshick describes them as “a mild form of acid that scratches the outer layer of skin to reveal fresh new skin underneath.”
Don’t skip the sunscreen
Always remember that sunscreen is essential as it helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. “While it may seem obvious to some, it’s a key ingredient in helping to reduce the appearance of acne scars, especially hyperpigmented scars,” says Dr. Garshick. “With sun exposure, scars can darken, which can make them more visible. Although acne sufferers are often reluctant to apply different products to their skin for fear of making breakouts worse, it It’s important for those with acne to remember to apply sunscreen and look for one that’s non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores.”
Treat your scars like wounds first
Dr. Garshick shares: “[When] people attack their acne pimples, they end up looking like a cut or an open sore. During this time, it is best to avoid using anti-acne medications and ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, as these can dry out the skin. Instead, she tells us to “focus on healing remedies such as petroleum jelly ointment which can help facilitate healing of the skin and reduce scarring.” She recommends looking for “ingredients that help heal and soothe the skin, such as aloe vera can help, like BioRepublic’s Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Sheet Mask.”
Finally, when home remedies just don’t seem to be enough, know that there are also medical treatments available to help reduce acne scars. However, Dr. Garshick points out, “Appropriate treatment options may vary slightly depending on the type of acne scarring. Consult your doctor to find out which treatment is right for you. Check out the following medical treatments offered by most clinics below:
“A dermatologist can recommend a type of peel suitable for a person’s skin type, acne severity and scarring.”
“Corticosteroid injections can help treat raised acne scar tissue if a person has hypertrophic or keloid scars.”
“In some cases, dermatologists may recommend the use of soft tissue fillers to reduce the appearance of scars. Dermal fillers work best for atrophic scars and treatment usually lasts between 6 and 18 months.
“Microneedling is the process of inserting tiny needles into the skin surrounding the scar to stimulate the body to produce more collagen. This collagen can reduce the appearance of acne scars by smoothing the skin.
“There are different laser treatment options depending on the type of scars to be treated. For example, lasers can be used to treat redness, discoloration, or changes in texture. Laser treatment resurfaces the skin without the use of chemicals or scrubs. It removes the top layer of skin to reveal younger skin cells underneath, which can help reduce the appearance of scars. Additionally, some lasers may work well to stimulate collagen production, which can improve the appearance of scars.