The topic of acne scars comes up ever so often in our community discussions. It is high time we got down to it and found out for sure what works and what doesn’t.
Whenever you see a mention of scars in this post, take it to mean depressed, pitted, indented actual scars, not flat, red / brown hyper-pigmented dark marks.
Like many on Acne Mantra, I am highly prone to scarring. Any new cyst can mean one more depression in my skin. Sure, it is depressing (no pun intended), but after years of struggling, I started to notice something.
I started to notice that since making certain changes, new acne wasn’t leaving scars anymore. Even my cystic acne was sort of flattening out and disappearing into the skin instead of taking a scoop out of my flesh.
This discovery has come a little late in the game for me, but hopefully the younger folk here who are just starting to see pitted scarring can benefit from this and save themselves lifelong misery.
First, the back story.
Scars are natural
Acne scars occur as a result of skin’s natural process of healing. All the while the body is fighting off the infection at the site of a pimple, the underlying tissue structure that makes up the flesh and skin in that area is getting damaged.
Eventually, it heals in a non-uniform manner, devoid of hair follicle, sweat glands and the look and feel of ‘normal’ skin. This also makes the site of the scar less able to protect itself from the sun and other damage.
We talked about it in the CPP Process to fade dark marks as to why your acne scars and marks look redder than the rest of the face after you have been out in the sun.
Apart from the obvious answer – don’t get pimples, is there any way to prevent scarring? Yes, there are ways to prevent scars from new pimples while you figure out how to stop getting new pimples in the first place.
The ‘I’ word
It is important to understand the role of inflammation in healing of pimples and causing of scarring.
Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury. The affected site can be red, swollen, painful and warm to touch. These are signs of inflammation. This is to fight off the infection at the site of the pimple.
Some types of pimples don’t become inflamed – blackheads, clogged pores and whiteheads. This type of acne is called non-inflammatory acne. It is mild acne and doesn’t leave scars. Once you start using the right skin care products, skin clears up with no sign of acne or scars. This is what you see in APST 1 and often in APST 2.
When it comes to pimples that become red, hard, painful and feel like they extend under the skin as well, inflammation comes into picture. This type of acne is called cystic or nodulocystic acne. Seen mostly in APST 3, this is the kind that is most prone to leaving scars.
Inflammation is necessary for healing, but it seems the longer the inflammation hangs around, the greater the risk of scarring.
Picking causes scars?
Now to the million dollar question. If you don’t squeeze a pimple (pick on a pimple), can you prevent scarring? No, not always.
Every acne prone person has heard at least once to not pick on pimples or it will cause scars.
The thing is, picking pimples is not the only reason for scarring. As we saw earlier, scarring is part of the skin’s natural healing process. So even if you don’t touch the pimple at all, the bacterial infection and the inflammation body unleashes to deal with it can cause scarring.
Many times, if a pimple is ready, you can drain out the pus safely. You notice that the pimple heals pretty quickly after that and many times, without scarring. This is not to say that you should pick on pimples, but if you did, these are 6 steps to make a popped pimple heal faster.
Scars are avoidable
If you have been reading so far, then you’d have figured the key word when it comes to scarring – inflammation. This has been my observation too.
Even though inflammation is necessary for healing, there are things you can do to worsen it and there are things you can do to help your body along without needing so much inflammation to heal a pimple. That is the secret to preventing scars.
As to what exact products seem to help in preventing scarring, here are 6 ways to prevent acne scars.