Undoubtedly, acne scars are among the most frustrating skin problems. It takes immense patience to treat, and the variation in marks, like discolouration versus pitted scars, need different kinds of care. As compiled from Elle magazine and Reader’s Digest, read on to tackle these face wreckers already!
Stop picking at your pimples
Inflammation left over after the acne has cleared up is what contributes to scarring, according to Dr Angela Lamb, a dermatologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. If you want to prevent scarring, keep your hands off the area — which means — no rubbing or scratching. Picking at your skin increases inflammation and can damage skin further, which makes scars appear worse, contributes to redness or swelling, plus, they last longer. It can also push bacteria deeper into the skin, causing more serious collagen damage. Conclusion: keep your hands off your face. Thank you!
Treat acne at the first sign of trouble
The most effective way to avoid the dreaded acne scars is to treat your pimple issues from the start. Dr Lamb recommends that one must aggressively treat their acne before it gets out of control. If your skin takes a sudden turn for the worst, see a dermatologist for a professional opinion and treatment. There are a gamut of reasons why you might be breaking out — from hormone imbalances to stress to poor hygiene, so it’s best to get medical help when you’re suddenly breaking out more than usual.
Differentiate between pockmark and discolouration scarring
It’s imperative to know what kind of acne scarring you’re suffering from. Dark spots, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, are temporary marks that should disappear in three to six months. Topical retinoid treatments can help repair the skin and decrease the appearance of these marks. Pockmark or “ice pick” scars are caused by damage to the skin’s collagen, and often need to be treated with lasers or fillers. “This is why treating acne aggressively is important,” says Dr Lamb. “Once you get a deep scar like that, it is very hard to fix.”
Be cautious of sun exposure
If you didn’t already know, here’s some pretty unwelcoming news — sun exposure can, in fact, make scars appear darker and take longer to heal. So, what happens is that ultraviolet rays boost pigment-producing cells, which can make your scar appear more visible. Make it a habit to use SPF 30 or higher on your face and look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB waves. With Pakistani winters gone, I guess it’s time to embrace the sun — but only with sunscreen on!
Add aloe vera into your treatment
Pure aloe vera gel has long been used to heal wounds and reduce swelling. A 2014 study of 60 participants suffering from mild to severe acne looked at whether adding aloe vera gel to a standard topical retinoid treatment would increase healing. The results were clear — the combination of aloe vera gel and retinoid treatment was significantly more effective at reducing inflammation and acne lesions than the control group who only used a topical retinoid treatment. Other studies have shown that even if used on its own, aloe vera boosts collagen in the skin after trauma, which can lessen the appearance of existing scars. Apply pure aloe vera gel (get a potted plant for unlimited supply!) to scars and acne marks twice a day for rapid results.
Upsurge your vitamin C intake
Good news — did you know that Vitamin C helps rebuild collagen, which can help reduce the appearance of facial scars? According to the bestseller Kitchen Cures, vitamin C is highly recommended for the treatment of acne scarring because it “strengthens cell walls and can help protect your skin from scarring that blemishes can cause.” Try to incorporate foods that are brimming in vitamin C into your diet. Aim to get 250 to 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Also, keenus are in season — just saying!
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2016.