If you deal with breakouts often, you know not all bumps are the same. Some seem to vanish with a basic pimple patch, others reside on your face for weeks together and some leave behind scars that just won't budge. We reached out to Florida- and Chicago-based Dr Azza Halim, a board-certified anaesthesiologist and physician with a focus on aesthetic and regenerative medicine, to help us break down the different types of acne scars and how you can identify and treat them. Here’s your all-encompassing guide to banishing every kind of pesky post-pimple scar.Types of acne scars
Dr Halim helps break down the most common acne scars you’ll spot on your skin and how you can identify them:
“These scars are flat, shallow depressions that heal below the top layer of skin, commonly a result of severe cystic acne”. Types of atrophic scars include boxcar, ice pick and rolling scars.
Boxcar scars: As the name suggests, these are almost “box-like depressions that can be caused by acne or even chickenpox”. They are more defined than other scars and seem like dents on your skin.
Ice pick scars: Dr Halim describes them as “small, narrow indentations pointing down into the skin that are commonly seen on the cheeks and [usually] very difficult to treat.” As an easy identifying note, they look like small holes in your skin, appearing as if you have deep, enlarged pores.
Rolling scars: These scars have “varying depths and sloping edges, therefore the skin looks wavy and uneven.” If you’ve got a patch of uneven skin with bumps and dents, they’re most likely rolling scars.
Hypertrophic and keloid scars
“These can be best identified as raised lumps of scar tissue resulting from acne scar tissue that builds up. They are more commonly seen in darker skin.” A keloid scar is a type of hypertrophic scar with the difference being that in the case of keloids, the scar tends to expand to the skin around the actual bump.
While this may not qualify as an individual scar, it’s possible that your skin can develop pigmented patches where the acne once lived. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a discoloured patch of skin that develops after acne has healed. While it’s not exactly a scar, it can sometimes require additional treatment to heal.”How to heal acne scars
If you’re treating seasonal acne, you will most likely be able to get away with simply switching your cleanser and moisturiser and using a spot treatment on the affected area. However, if you have persistent acne and the kind that leaves scars that don’t show signs of disappearing by themselves, it’s time you see a dermatologist. Don’t try to use at-home concoctions to lighten these scars; you may find yourself doing more harm than good. It’s important to understand that scars that don’t disappear by themselves or even with a skincare routine developed for acne-prone skin are deep-set and will require more work to disappear. In terms of at-home options, “topical retinoids work to heal breakouts and promote collagen stimulation, hydroquinone helps tackle pigmentation and silicone gel sheets can be used for hypertrophic scars.” Dr Halim also recommends wearing sunblock as a non-negotiable step since most anti-acne or scar medication contains a form of retinol and keeping your skin protected also helps prevent further pigmentation.
In-clinic options when supplemented with at-home care are your best bet to reduce post-acne scars. “Acne scar treatments will vary based on severity, type of scarring, age of the scars as well as your age and skin type,” she says. While the perfect treatment for your scars can only be decided upon a consultation, your in-clinic treatment options include chemical peels, laser resurfacing, scar excision (revision), punch graft, TCA CROSS, microneedling, subcision, PDO threads and dermal fillers. Each of these treatments works differently for different types of scars and it is likely that your dermatologist or aesthetician will recommend a combination of more than one to completely heal your skin.Also read:
What you need to know about treating hyperpigmentation on Indian skin
How to remove every kind of scar, from acne to hyperpigmentation
What needs to happen to make acne and blemishes a normal part of mainstream media