The Best Acne Scar Treatment | Part One:
Different Types of Acne Scars
Acne is bad. But acne scars seem infinitely worse. And 30% of men and women who suffer from moderate to severe acne will develop them. Fortunately, people searching for the best acne scar treatment have several options.
In this two part series from Santé Medical Aesthetics, you will learn about the different types of acne scars and discover available treatments that improve the appearance of acne scars for smooth, beautifully clear skin.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Acne creates an inflammatory injury that can damage surrounding skin and tissue. In response to this injury, the body’s healing mechanism stimulates the production of collagen. Acne scars form when the body creates too little collagen, leading to depressed acne scars, or too much collagen, leading to raised acne scars.
In addition to acne scars, bad flare-ups can leave behind acne marks, or pigmentation “scars” caused by vascular injuries or the overproduction or underproduction of melanin.
The best acne scar treatment depends on the type of scar being treated and individual considerations of the patient, such as skin tone.
DEPRESSED ACNE SCARS
Depressed acne scars, also known as pitted acne scars are the most common type of acne scars. Depressed acne scars are categorized as atrophic scarring, or scarring that result from a loss of tissue. While depressed acne scars can form anywhere on the body that experiences breakouts, they are most commonly found in the area around the cheeks.
There are three categories of depressed acne scars:
Ice pick scars
Ice pick scars form when a bacterium from an infected hair follicle makes its way up the hair shaft to the skin’s surface, damaging surrounding tissue. This creates a long, narrow channel of scar tissue resembling a puncture wound from an ice-pick. Because of their depth, icepick scars are the most difficult to treat.
Boxcar scars form when bacteria from acne destroy skin tissue and the body does not create enough collagen to fully replace all of the tissue loss. This results in a depressed scar that is typically oval with steep, angular edges.
Rolling scars result when fibrous tissue is regenerated between skin layers. The band-like tissue, which is connected to both layers of skin, tugs on the top layer of skin. This pulls the surface skin down, creating wave like scars. Rolling scars are typically wider than boxcar scars, but have soft, sloping edges that create undulations across the surface of the skin.
Raised Acne Scars
Raised acne scars are a type of hypertrophic scarring, or the overproduction of collagen tissue following an inflammatory injury.
There are two main types of raised acne scars:
Hypertrophic scarring results from the production of too much collagen causing the fibrous tissue to build up on the surface of the skin where the wound use to be. Raised acne scars are associated with slow healing lesions. Hypertrophic scars are typically reddish in color and are most commonly found on the torso of men suffering from severe, inflammatory body acne. These scars typically fade and flatten over time. However, without professional acne treatment, the healing process can span years.
Keloid scars are less common but more severe than hypertrophic acne scars. They result when an infection breaks through the surface of the skin and the body sends too much collagen to the surface of the skin to seal over the wound. Unlike Hypertrophic scars that are isolated to the infected lesion, Keloid acne scars can grow beyond the boundaries of the original acne lesion. Keloid scars are more common in individuals with dark skin tones and appear as pink, rubbery masses of scar tissue.
Acne marks, or pigmentation scars are not technically scars. Known as “pseudo scarring” acne marks are macules that leave flat spots of discolored skin. These marks can range in color from dark brown to pink. Acne marks can discolor the skin for several months to a few years following a break out.
The 2 Most Common Types of Acne Marks:
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs when the body produces too much melanin, the dark pigment found in our skin, in response to an inflammatory injury, like acne. Any skin type can experience PIH, but it is most commonly seen in people with darker skin tones.
PIH macules are typically black or brown and become worse with sun exposure. The only good news about PIH is the macules are usually not permanent, although they can take a very long time to clear up on their own without the help of acne scar treatments.
Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)
Post inflammatory erythema (PIE) occurs when the body increases blood flow to an injury site in response to broken or ruptured capillaries. These types of acne marks are made worse by picking at acne or popping pimples. PIE is most commonly seen in people with lighter skin types.
PIE macules are typically purple, red, or pink and can discolor the face for several months.
The Best Acne Scar Treatments
While acne scars and marks can mar the face long after breakouts have cleared up, there are numerous non-invasive treatments that effectively diminish the appearance of these scars. Find out about the best acne scar treatments for improving your specific type of acne scars in part II of Sante’s Acne scar treatment series.