Acne Scars and Scarring
Most people who have a mild or moderate case of acne will eventually recover from the condition without any serious scarring. In cases of severe acne, however, some scarring is almost inevitable. Don't give up hope! New acne treatments can effectively minimize scarring and even existing scars can be removed with a variety of techniques.
It's an unfortunate fact of life that most pimples will leave behind a discolored patch of skin. However, this is not really a scar and will usually clear up by itself within one year. Marks or skin defects that remain longer than one year are considered to be scars and these can be treated.
Acne scars can be prevented through a program combining active treatment and self-control. One of the worst things you can do to pimples is to pick them. Some people try to squeeze or remove blackheads or whiteheads but this is the absolute worst thing that you can do. Not only will the bacteria which causes the acne spread, but the skin can be damaged, and this usually leads to permanent scarring.
The good news is that mild cases of acne can usually be self treated with easily applied over-the-counter medications but more severe cases really should be treated by a dermatologist. The doctor can prescribe oral medications in addition to topical ointments for use on the skin. In some cases, the doctor may also decide to physically remove blackheads or whiteheads and lance and drain pus filled nodules. The dermatologist uses surgical instruments which have been sterilized to prevent infection, and these types of procedures should never be attempted at home.
What Causes Pimples?
Pimples form on the skin because of the presence of bacteria. This bacteria then damages and inflames the skin. Once the acne has cleared up, the skin may still appear discolored. This is part of the natural healing process and should not cause any alarm. The discolorment will disappear after a period of time.
This healing process can be speeded up by the use of medications like Retin-A, Renova, and Alpha-Hydroxy Acids. Sunshine can damage the skin and thereby delay the healing process, therefore sunscreens should always be worn outside.
Again, hands off! Avoid picking scabs that may form over old acne lesions. Scabs are an ugly but necessary part of the healing process and picking them off unnecessarily exposes the skin which increases the time necessary for the scars to heal.
Existing scars left over from acne can be treated in a number of ways. If scars are not too severe, a chemical peel can be applied to the skin. This effectively removes the microscopic top layer of the skin allowing the cells underneath to rejuvenate.
Cases of more severe scarring can be treated with lasers or dermabrasion. Lasers can remove the damaged layer of skin and tighten the skin underneath to raise the depression caused by the scar. This process can be mildly painful so the dermatologist may use an anesthetic to numb the pain. The healing process after laser treatment takes about 3 to 10 days.
Dermabrasion removes scars by actually scraping away the surface of the skin where the scarring has occured. During the healing process a new layer of skin is formed to replace the scar. Both dermabrasion and laser treatments can cause the skin to turn red, but this discolorment will disappear after several months.
Photon Light Therapy Systems
One fairly new and popular technique for reducing or removing acne scars is the use of Photon Light Therapy Systems. These machines can be used at home or in a salon setting to help reduce the appearance of acne, rosacea, and wrinkles.