In my last blog post, we got into the causes of acne scarring and the different forms those scars can take. Here, we’ll explore the most effective ways to treat your scars and what you can do to prevent them from returning.
The first step in healing acne scars is to treat them with a product that provides gentle chemical exfoliation. (Physical exfoliation is too abrasive in this instance.) Look for a peel that has a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids. It’ll exfoliate dead, darkened skin cells and boost collagen production at the same time.
Next, apply a serum with vitamin C, a skin-brightening antioxidant, and vitamin E, which regenerates skin cells and improves the texture. Also effective are topical treatments that contain retinoids, hydroquinone, and azelaic acid, all of which have been shown to significantly lighten dark marks and even melasma.
A word of warning: Hydroquinone is a skin-bleaching agent that can potentially lighten healthy skin, too, so it should only be used under the care and supervision of a board-certified dermatologist.
If you have a dark skin tone, tranexamic acid would be a worthwhile complement to your treatment. It helps pigment correction, brown spots, and PIH by evening out skin tone.
For ice pick, rolling, and boxcar scars (check out my last post for descriptions of each), a number of in-office treatments can help increase collagen production. When that happens, the scar will eventually raise to match the rest of your skin’s surface. These treatments include Smooth Beam and Picoway Resolve, both of which are laser treatments, subcision, and hyaluronic acid filler treatments.
If you have darker skin, it’s important to consult a dermatologist who has extensive experience with laser treatments specifically involving brown and black skin. While lasers can be effective in treating acne scars, not all lasers are safe for all skin types.
The treatments outlined above should effectively erase, or at least dramatically diminish, your acne scars. They won’t, however, ensure that new ones won’t appear in the future.
For that, the best course of action is to treat acne lesions as soon as they appear. Over-the-counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are a good place to start. If your acne lingers, ask your dermatologist about prescription medications like retinol, spironolactone, or Aczone.