Acne Scars and Retinol
It's impossible to predict with accuracy who will get scars from their acne. Family history can influence scar development, and more severe acne cases tend to create more scars. But sometimes, acne scars develop unexpectedly. If you're one of the unlucky ones who got scars from her zits, you may decide to try over-the-counter treatments containing retinol or retinol's close relative, tretinoin, to treat your scars.
Three different types of scars develop from acne, including depressed scars, raised scars and skin color changes that aren't really scars but can be pretty noticeable and often persist for years. Depressed scars appear most often, while raised scars can be difficult to treat. Skin color changes from acne can look like dark purple, brown or red dots, or possibly like red-colored patches.
Retinol, or vitamin A, helps to treat skin problems such as acne scars by encouraging new skin cells and skin-supporting collagen to form, according to acne-resource.org. Retinol, which is available over the counter, can help to improve all forms of acne scars, potentially flattening raised scars, helping to raise depressions, and fading skin spots. However, the American Academy of Dermatology warns it's not as effective as dermatologist-provided prescriptions and procedures.
Acne scar sufferers report on scar forums that strong retinol creams and serums do help to improve the appearance of scars, especially depressed scars, and in combination with other over-the-counter scar treatments. One person with deep depressed scars used retinol in combination with strong glycolic acid and vitamin C, a combination endorsed by the AAD, and reported excellent results.
While you can buy retinol products over-the-counter, you need to see a dermatologist to get a prescription for tretinoin, the acid version of vitamin A. However, some acne scar sufferers say it's worth it, because tretinoin is stronger and works faster to improve scars than its close cousin retinol. Tretinoin can help to fade acne-related colored spots quickly, can help to flatten raised scars and stop itching and pain from keloids, one type of raised scar. It sometimes even can help to raise depressed scars, says the AAD.
Acne scars can be very difficult to treat. In fact, if you still have acne, the AAD urges you to seek professional help from a dermatologist to prevent more scars from forming. If retinol or tretinoin don't improve your skin, you might want to consider a procedure such as acne scar surgery, laser treatment or a chemical peel to get rid of your acne scars, the AAD says.
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