Ask the Expert: Can You Make Acne Scars Look Better?
When it comes to your skin’s fight against acne, targeting pimples and pustules are only half the battle. Oftentimes once the blemishes subside, a scar can be left in its place. To complicate things even further, not all acne scars are created equal. “Acne scars can be classified as minimal to extremely disfiguring,” says plastic surgeon, SkinCeuticals ambassador, and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Peter Schmid. “Due to the diverse degree and range of acne scarring, no single treatment regimen works for all patients.” The good news is there are options that can help diminish acne scars, but the key to an effective treatment is to know what will work best for the specific acne scars you’re dealing with.
Why Do Acne Scars Form?
The formation of acne scars is not such a simple thing. Despite your best efforts to prevent them, sometimes they still occur. So, why do they form exactly?
“Acne scars form in response to comedone (whitehead) formation followed by an infection of the skin’s oil glands by P. acnes bacteria resulting in a chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Schmid. The longevity of an acne scar can also depend on your skin type, skin tone, and age. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), as we age—and as our skin loses collagen as a result—acne scars can become more noticeable.
How Can You Prevent Acne Scars from Forming?
Acne scars result from acne, so it’s important to follow a skin care routine that can help keep breakouts at bay. No new acne = no new acne scars. If a breakout does occur—we can only control so much, after all—Dr. Schmid recommends early skin care maintenance of the blemish. “Daily usage of SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser, SkinCeuticals LHA Toner and SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense serves to significantly reduce acne flare-ups,” he says.
Can You Get Rid of Acne Scars?
Like we said earlier, all acne scars form for different reasons, and they appear in a wide variety of forms. According to Dr. Schmid, there are copious amounts of treatment options to try, depending on severity, necessity and concern.
“Acne scars may be reduced with microneedling, microdermabrasion, hydrafacials, lasers (fractional) resurfacing, dermabrasion, and more” he says. Keep in mind that these methods may help reduce the appearance of scars or make them look better, but may not get rid of them altogether. Unfortunately, most treated acne-scarred skin leaves a mark despite treatment,” Dr. Schmid says.
According to the AAD, deeper scars may be addressed with injectable fillers, which add volumes to the skin. You can also combine multiple therapies, such as fillers and lasers.
Can You Make Acne Scars Look Better?
For deeper scars, you likely won’t be able to make them look better overnight since they involve in-office treatments and perhaps multiple visits. If your acne scar is a dark mark, you may have some luck with dark spot correctors, products aimed at brightening the appearance of the skin, or those that help to exfoliate the skin’s top layer. For best results in addressing your acne scars, Dr. Schmid recommends that you spring into action at earliest onset. In other words, don’t wait around and expect your acne scars to improve on their own. “This entails a prescribed combination protocol of preventative, correction and maintenance measures,” he says.
If you’re dealing with acne scars and want to help ensure they don’t look more obvious, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t Pick at Your Skin
Your hands carry bacteria, and when that bacteria comes in contact with an existing blemish it can cause it to infect. If you then try to pop that pimple, it increases the likelihood of a scar forming. To avoid long-term scars, keep your hands off your face and off your pimples!
2. Protect Your Skin from UV Rays
Did you know that sun damage can impact scars? It’s true. The sun’s UV rays can darken scars and cause them to look more noticeable and pronounced. As such, be sure to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, and reapply at least every two hours. Protect your skin even further by wearing a visor or cap that blocks direct exposure to the rays, and seek shade.
Editor’s note: If your acne scars are distressing to you, talk to your skin care provider about the best option out there for you. A short term fix is to cover up the scars with makeup. We’re sharing tips on how to cover up your acne scars with makeup, here!