There are some helpful steps you can take to minimise acne scars. Implement these steps and you will be surprised with the results. For the best way to gauge success, you do have to document your progress. This gives an objective view on how things are going. Take photos in the same lighting, 4 weeks apart. Compare the baseline, week 4, 8 & 12. The earlier the treatment the better results.
Here are some of my tips to reduce acne scars.
- Treat acne early- preventing scars is much easier than treating scars. Find a treatment that works for YOU. Some patients may benefit from a simple change in diet, others may need prescription specialist medication. A good stepping stone is the use of skincare ingredients such as retinol, retinoids, hydroxy pinacolone retinoate & simple skincare acids such as salicylic washes. Refer to the multiple posts on how to manage acne.
- Don’t squeeze your zits- this can lead to long term scarring. Squeezing can lead to rupture of your oil glands and this in turn can alter collagen- leading to scars! Using a simple hydrocolloid patch can markedly reduce the tendency to pick.
- Use Vitamin A creams – early scars can respond to prescription Vitamin A creams. These work by altering the structure of collagen, and can help prevent or even improve early acne scars. A good formulation of retinol used nightly can stimulate collagen & remodel acne scars.
- Wear sunscreen. Why does sunscreen help with scarring? Your skin produces excess pigment and blood vessels as a result of acne- this form of scarring is called macular erythema or PIE (post inflammatory erythema). If you have darker skin types, the use of sunscreen can reduce the incidence of post acne skin darkening. Most sunscreen will clog your pores, so the best one I recommend is La Roche Posay SPF 50+.
- AHA peels or glycolic acid peels can treat mild forms of scarring, unclog pores, remove blackheads and also improve acne. Glycolic acid peels can improve mild forms of acne scarring- especially if treated early. For at home use, AHAs can be formulated with BHAs.
- Niacinamide is a very effective ingredient that can reduce red acne spots & red acne marks. It works as an anti-inflammatory. Typical formulations range from 3 to 23%. This is the ingredient of choice for people with sensitive skin.
- Ascorbic Acid or vitamin C can help acne scars in three ways. First it can protect further collagen loss due to it’s potent antioxidant properties. Secondly it can reduce the output of pigmentation as it stops the enzyme that produces melanin. Thirdly it can help restore & remodel collagen. The best formulations have L-ascorbic acid & range between 5 to 20% in concentration. This topical should be used in caution if you have inflammatory acne or sensitive skin.
Consider treating scars early. Creams & skincare, though important, have their limitations. With early and effective control of acne, you will be able to mitigate most cases of acne scarring. For more severe scars, directed treatments such as lasers, microneedling, RFM, & controlled peels ar
Dr Davin Lim