Just when you think your skin is clearing up… Bam! The zits disappear, leaving behind unsightly scars. Acne scars can be as frustrating as pimples and take their own sweet time to depart. But don’t lose hope. Although there are no quick fixes here, with the right techniques you can get even stubborn scars to fade away faster.
Spot your acne scars
Acne lesions that are painful, inflamed, and deep tend to damage the skin. When these lesions heal, the body produces collagen. If too much or too little collagen is produced, the affected area begins to look different from the surrounding skin—and you’re left with acne scars. These blemishes fall under two broad categories.
1. Atrophic scars: These scars are like little depressions on the skin. They form if the skin loses collagen while healing from acne. Atrophic scars are of three types:
- Ice-pick scars resemble tiny, deep holes in the skin.
- Boxcar scars are wider than ice-pick scars. They are usually oval or round depressions with the edges clearly marked.
- Rolling scars are much wider depressions with a rolling or wavelike appearance.
2. Hypertrophic scars: Sometimes, as acne heals, the skin produces too much collagen. The overproduction of collagen results in scars that feel slightly raised to the touch. Such scars are more common on the chest and back.
Genetics plays a role here. Having a parent with acne scars increases your risk of acne-related scarring. Acne severity is another risk factor. Large, deep-rooted lesions are more likely to leave their mark on your skin than the occasional pimple.
Are we forgetting dark spots?
Dark spots can also be residual effects of acne but, technically speaking, they are not scars at all. Run a finger over the marks and you won’t feel any bumps or depressions. What you’re dealing with here is discoloured skin, a result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
While recovering from the damage caused by acne, the skin cells sometimes produce too much melanin—a pigment that gives colour to the skin. Overproduction of melanin causes the brown discolouration associated with dark spots.
Hyperpigmentation is a common side effect of acne for people with dark skin. Those with lighter skin tones may experience post-inflammatory redness instead.
How long do acne scars take to fade?
Acne scars can be hard to get rid of. Without intervention, they may never really go away. Atrophic scars can even become more prominent as the skin starts losing collagen with age. But here’s the good news: You get to choose from among a range of advanced treatments and new-age acne creams. A dermatologist can set you up with a customised road map for scar-free skin.
As for dark spots and redness, they usually fade on their own within three to six months. If you’re in a rush, over-the-counter (OTC) retinols and brightening serums could speed up their departure. Here are simple remedies for removing dark spots at home.
How to fade acne scars faster
The type and severity of your acne scars determine the type of intervention needed. Be on the safe side and check with your dermatologist before using a no-scars cream or any other mode of treatment. Here are some popular options for getting rid of acne scars:
- Dermatological procedures: Resurfacing techniques like laser therapy and dermabrasion take off the skin’s upper layer, encouraging the growth of new skin cells.
In-office procedures like microneedling, radiofrequency skin tightening, and even fillers can be effective in treating atrophic scars. Raised scars, meanwhile, can be softened and flattened with the help of steroid injections. Photofacial treatments use the power of light to even out skin tone and texture.
- At-home treatment: Chemical peels containing ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acid, or retinoids ease the appearance of acne scars and dark spots. These OTC products dissolve away cells in the outer layer of the skin, leading to the production of new, unblemished skin.
You could also apply fresh aloe vera gel or invest in cleansers and exfoliants that are infused with aloe vera. Although not a miracle cure, aloe vera could lighten the scars over time.
Avoid acne, prevent scars
The best way to keep acne scars away? Prevent acne in the first place. It is easier than you think, and you don’t need a ton of products.
Cleanse twice a day to eliminate grime, apply your favourite toner, and keep breakouts at bay with a multi-function formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream. This lightweight plant-based cream controls inflammation, fights acne bacteria, and promotes skin cell turnover. Massage in the acne-fighting potion and then lock it in with moisturiser.
One last thing: Say ‘no’ to pimple popping! It goes a long way towards keeping your complexion scar-free.
Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.