Acne Scars & Discoloration
About 40 to 50 million Americans get acne each year, making it the most common skin disease in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology or AAD. Almost every teenager suffers from pimples at some point, but most cases clear up without scarring. However, some unlucky acne sufferers will develop scarring and discoloration from their acne. Although nothing can make those scars completely vanish, several different treatments can make them far less noticeable.
Dermatologists aren't certain why some people develop acne scars while others do not, but they believe your genes play a major role, since people with a family history of acne scars often develop scarring themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, the severity of your acne also plays a key part. If you have moderate to severe acne, and especially if you develop cysts or nodules, you're likely to scar.
There are three different types of acne scars: raised scars, depressed scars and skin discoloration. Raised scars, also called keloids, occur less often than the other two types and can be difficult to treat. Depressed acne scars represent the most common type of acne scar, with several effective treatments available. And skin discoloration, where your skin develops red or purple-colored dots where your pimples used to be, isn't technically scarring, since it will eventually fade. However, many people with this type of acne-related skin discoloration want to remove it quickly.
Some over-the-counter products can help treat less severe acne scarring. The AAD recommends products containing glycolic acid, vitamin C and retinol for depressed acne scars that are saucer-shaped and not especially deep, while over-the-counter fade creams containing hydroquinone can help diminish skin discoloration from acne.
Unfortunately, there's no effective over-the-counter medication for raised scars, although the AAD notes that putting continuous pressure on the scars with tape or a silicone bandage can help flatten them.
Many people with severe acne scarring seek help from a dermatologist, who potentially can offer several effective treatments. For depressed acne scars, effective treatments include surgery, laser treatments and chemical peels.
Dermatologists can surgically remove raised scars, but these scars often need injections of corticosteroids in order to prevent the scars from recurring.
Light chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatments can help fade acne-related skin discoloration.
Although acne scars can be difficult to treat, especially without a physician's help, treatments do exist that can help you rid yourself of scars. The AAD recommends that people with low self-esteem due to acne scarring, or people who believe the scars limit their ability to date or find a good job, consult with a dermatologist to determine their options.
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