Acne Scars – Cause, Prevention And Treatment
Acne scars are easily recognized by the red skin of an area formerly occupied by a pimple. The initial form, while not actually a scar, will lead to one in some cases. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure that it is a scar is if the red skin persists for longer than 6-12 months. It is often better, therefore, to treat all acne lesions as potential scars.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Acne scars are caused by an overabundance of the connective tissues your body uses to heal itself. These tissues work to provide a temporary framework for your skin cells to regrow on. But if there is too much of this connective tissue, it is not broken down when the healing is complete, but rather stays permanently. This causes a discolored or unpigmented section of skin to form.
Avoiding Acne Scars
Since the root cause of acne scarring is acne, preventing acne in the first place is the best way to avoid scars. But even if you already have acne, it is still possible to prevent acne scars from forming. The way this is done is by speeding the healing process as much as possible. The faster your acne lesion heals, the less time the connective tissue framework has to overgrow and leave scars.
Speeding the Healing Process
There are 2 main treatments dermatologists use to facilitate the rapid healing of acne lesions. The first is Tretinoin, an acid derivative of Vitamin A, also known as all-trans retinoic acid. This chemical speeds the skin's healing, reducing inflammation and preventing acne scars from forming. The second method involves the use of various Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy acids, which perform much the same function as Tretoinin, speeding healing and reducing the chance of scarring.
Even if you don't or can't see a dermatologist, there are several different things you can do yourself that can help prevent acne scars from forming. The biggest thing is to treat your skin well. Avoid over-exposure to the sun, as sunburns can dramatically slow the healing process.
Always wear sunscreen when going out in the sun. Don't pop your pimples, and if there are scabs from lesions, do not pick at them. Picking at any wound as it heals causes more damage, extending healing times and increasing the likelihood of scar tissue forming.
Removing Existing Acne Scars
Even with the best of care, scarring still sometimes occurs. But even if a scar does form, there
are several options available that can reduce or eliminate your visible scarring.
Fillers such as collagen can be injected into the site of an acne scar, raising the skin surface to reduce the appearance of pockmarks. These are not permanent treatments, however, and will require re-injection every 3-6 months.
An extremely popular and fast treatment for acne scars, laser resurfacing works by burning a precisely measured upper layer of skin. New skin then grows over the wound, leaving mostly unscarred skin visible. But as with the initial acne healing process, care must be taken to insure >that this new skin does not scar as well.
This procedure is only effective on certain types of scars. A surgical punch is made to precisely the dimensions of the scar to be removed. The scar is then punched out, similar to a cookie cutter, and the wound sewn together. If there is any scarring left after the wound heals, it can be more easily treated with laser resurfacing than the original larger scar.
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