This post is in continuation to our discussion about preventing acne scars. The idea rests around reducing inflammation as much as possible while still allowing a pimple to heal.
We saw that inflammation (swelling ,redness) causes the pimple to heal but when it becomes too much, the underlying tissue is not able to recover fully, or it does haphazardly and you’re left with a scar.
The key to preventing scars or avoiding them to a degree is to prevent inflammation from getting out of hand.
In this post, I’m going to share some of things I have used and some others that I have heard used for reducing inflammation and scarring.
Isotretinoin is a strong medicine that is used for out-of-control acne that just won’t respond to any acne treatment. It comes with its own side effects, some of them causing irreversible damage.
The way it works is by shrinking the sebum glands in the skin, so less oil is produced, thereby diminishing acne bacteria growth.
Isotretinoin is said to decrease inflammation in the skin and prevent scarring. I have not used it, because there are safer and just as effective methods to reduce inflammatory acne, some of which we will see later in this post.
Cortisone is a steroid hormone that our body releases to reduce inflammation. It can also be injected at the site of a pimple to quickly reduce inflammation and flatten it out. This treatment is common in the U.S. and is getting popular in India.
The results are very fast and a stubborn cyst and disappears within a matter of 24-48 hours. This prevents scar formation.
Long term use of cortisone is not advised due to its ability to suppress the immune system and play havoc with the hormones. It is worth a shot if you have a stubborn cyst that is not responding to spot treatments.
To get a cortisone injection, you will need to go to a dermatologist and get it injected into the skin.
One of the side-effects is that while reducing the inflammation and size of a pimple, it can sometimes create a ‘dip’ in that area. The dip, if created, often fills up on its own within a month or so. It depends on the skill of the doctor administering the injection to use the right amount and technique to avoid atrophy (dips).
Here is a detailed blog post by Anubha Chauhan where you can see cortisone injection before and after photos and information about getting this treatment in India.
Omega-3’s are the good fatty acids that combat inflammation throughout the body.
Earlier, we saw how fish oil is helping my skin. I noticed that regular fish oil was reducing inflammation of acne pretty quickly and making them heal much faster. Cystic acne sort of dissolved into the skin instead of lingering on and worsening.
Many people use fish oil and cod liver oil capsules and wonder why their skin isn’t benefiting much. The reason most often is that they are not using a large enough amount. See this discussion about the amounts of EPA/DHA for acne.
Omega-3 is found in many vegetarian sources as well. Nuts and seeds for example. Be careful about consuming large quantities of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnut, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds. They contain omega-3, but they also contain phytoestrogens which in some people can actually worsen acne. So figure out your limit and consume nuts and seeds in moderation.
When it comes to antioxidants for skin, vitamin C and E rule the roost. When used together, they work synergistically, enhancing the effect of each other. I’ve used vitamin C to great results and almost overnight healing of cystic bumps. There is so much to discuss about vitamin C that it demands a whole post, which will be coming up shortly.
Another antioxidant, vitamin D, reduces inflammation throughout the body, preventing acne formation and decreasing a pimple’s lifespan. The amounts of vitamin D necessary to see a real difference are much higher than what a normal multivitamin provides. We have seen radical effect of vitamin D on acne.
Another anti-inflammatory is zinc. More information on using zinc for acne.
In an earlier post, we saw 4 ways to freeze a pimple to reduce inflammation. That reduces the redness and size of the pimple.
MSM a promising option
MSM or Methyl Sulfonyl Methane is a sulphur based compound that is found in our bodies. When used as a supplement, it is known to help with tissue formation, sort of filling up scars and preventing scarring from active acne. MSM is a popular option to deal with pitted acne scars. It can also prevent them by reducing inflammation throughout the body.
I started out using with MSM for joint pain and allergies and discovered its anti-inflammatory action along the way.
I have had to discontinue it for the time being because I am undergoing NAET allergy treatment and it will be safest to avoid supplements during this time. I will take it up again and post my detailed experience with it.