Acne Scars and Keloids
Most acne lesions don't form scars. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if your acne is particularly severe or if you have nodules or cysts with bad bacterial infection, you're more likely to have scars and keloids. Over-the-counter remedies generally work only on very mild scars, but fortunately, dermatologists offer a variety of effective treatments for acne scars and keloids.
Dermatologists recognize three types of acne scars and marks, according to the AAD. Depressed acne scars, which many people call pock marks, appear most commonly. These result when infected lesions finally clear, leaving scar tissue and a depression in the skin where the infection had been. Keloids, or raised scars, appear less frequently. These look like large, irregular lumps on the skin's surface, and usually are rubbery in texture. The third type of mark, skin dots or discoloration, actually isn't really scarring because it fades over time. However, many people seek treatment for these red, purple or brown dots to fade them more quickly.
Many people reach first for over-the-counter products to treat their acne scars and keloids. Unfortunately, these products aren't effective on bad scars, and only work some on mild scars. According to the AAD, if you have depressed scars, you should look for products that include the ingredients retinol, which is a form of vitamin A, vitamin C and glycolic acid. These products potentially can help to make shallow, saucer-like depressions less noticeable. Meanwhile, creams with hydroquinone can help to fade colored spots or dots. If you have keloids, you can try placing constant pressure on them with tape or silicone bandages. This might flatten them some, the AAD says.
If over-the-counter products and medications fail to provide the results you want for your acne scars and keloids, your next step is a visit to your dermatologist. If you have depressed acne scars, your dermatologist might recommend surgery to remove or lift the scars. The surgery can be combined with a procedure in which filler is injected to plump up the depressions. Laser treatments also can effectively resurface your skin and help to make acne pock marks less noticeable, according to MayoClinic.com.
More Physical Procedures
If you suffer from keloids, meanwhile, it's likely your dermatologist will start treatment with injections of corticosteroids, which can help to shrink the large, rubbery scars. Dermatologists usually provide a series of injections. If the scar hasn't shrunk by the fourth injection, however, the next step may be surgery to remove it. However, most keloids have a very high risk--between 45 percent and 100 percent--of returning after surgery, so dermatologists use injections, radiation or pressure bandages to prevent keloid recurrence after surgery.
Although acne scars sometimes are difficult to treat, most people can find a treatment or combination of treatments that provides them with the results they seek, according to the AAD. If you think about your scars often and wish they would just disappear, it may be time for you to seek help from a dermatologist who specializes in acne scar treatment.
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