Scarring following acne is often very distressing for patients and one of the most common complaints discussed with our dermatologists at Bulimba Dermatology. About 90% of patients who suffer from acne will experience some degree of acne scarring. For the majority of people, post-acne scarring is generally mild, however in many cases it can be severe and disfiguring, causing embarrassment and emotional suffering.
The causes of acne scarring
In more aggressive forms of acne, acne cysts can form under the skin. These cysts are sac-like structures under the surface of the skin. They contain oily skin secretions (sebum), skin cells and bacteria. These sac-like structures eventually rupture much like an over-filled water balloon, spilling their contents into the surrounding deeper parts of the skin (dermis). In the dermis, collagen is normally present, giving support and structural framework to our skin. When a cyst ruptures, it causes inflammation in the surrounding skin. This inflammatory response causes destruction of collagen leading to loss of support to the overlying skin and as a result, a depression or scar in the skin.
Just who will develop scarring following acne and how severe that scarring will be is difficult to predict. Usually more severe forms of acne lead to more severe scarring. It is important to treat acne early to help minimise the risk of severe scarring. At Bulimba Dermatology we support this approach of treating acne early. If your acne is not responding to the usual over-the-counter treatments, ask your general practitioner for a referral to one of our dermatologists for advice on how to get on top of your acne early.
Many effective acne scar treatments are available at Bulimba Dermatology. However, we recommend treating your acne thoroughly prior to undertaking treatments for acne scarring. New acne can lead to further scars.
Preventing acne scars
While some acne scars cannot be prevented, at Bulimba Dermatology we believe the following five tips can help to minimise the risk of scarring following acne:
- Treat the acne early and thoroughly
- If you are prone to acne, having an acne maintenance plan can help minimise the chance of acne recurring
- Keep your fingers away - DO NOT pick, squeeze, scratch or pop pimples. This can cause acne to flare as well as damage the collagen in the skin leading to further scarring
- Treat your skin gently if you have acne – overly vigorous cleansing and scrubbing the skin does not improve acne and can actually cause acne to get worse. Use gentle soap-free cleansers and luke-warm water to wash with once or twice a day
- Consult a dermatologist earlier rather than later. Remember, acne scarring can be prevented if acne is treated early.
Make an appointment request with one of our dermatologists to discuss which treatments are best for you.