First things first: acne marks and acne scars are different things. The majority of acne-sufferers will have had or will experience acne marks, not acne scars. Acne marks are actually post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: brown or red spots that are purely superficial and will eventually fade away in three months to one year’s time.
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Acne scars, however, are permanent fixtures. Where marks are a change in color pigmentation, scarring is a change in the skin’s texture due to skin tissue being destroyed. There are three types of acne scars:
- Atrophic scars, also known as ice pick scars, form when too little fibrous tissue is being produced where skin was previously destroyed during the healing process. This results in indents or small depressions in the skin. Boxcar scars are one type of atrophic scarring, named for their well-defined, angular edges, and are typically found on the temples and cheeks. Rolling scars, as the name suggests, are atrophic scars that give the skin a waving, undulating appearance and texture.
- Hypertrophic scars are thick, raised bumps that highlight the area of original injury.
- Keloid scars, also thick and raised in appearance and texture, are caused by overgrowth in skin tissue that extends beyond the boundaries of the original wound.
“Getting rid” of acne marks requires patience, but it’s most certainly possible; it’s the “how to get rid of acne scars” question that gets a little more complex. Remember: acne marks are temporary, and acne scars are permanent. These are two different types of conditions that require different types of care, and that even within those categories, there are factors like the type of scarring (atrophic, hypertrophic, or keloid), skin type, and other personal variations that call for even more attention to detail when it comes to trying to minimize the appearance of acne scarring.
- Cleanse and exfoliate with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). Ingredients like AHA Glycolic Acid or BHA Salicylic Acid can help aid the healing process of acne marks. Both are known chemical exfoliants that work to help promote cell turnover by dissolving the outermost layer of damaged or imperfect skin. Consistent use over time will help reveal a smoother, more even skin tone.[Learn more about: Glycolic Acid in skin care]
- Look for skincare products formulated with ingredients known to help even skin tone. Ingredients like Kojic Acid, Licorice, Mulberry Extract, and Vitamin C have been known to help fade and minimize the appearance of marks and hyperpigmentation.[We recommend: Whitening Mask]
- Consult a professional to see if a chemical peel is right for you. Many people with acne marks use chemical peels to help speed up cell turnover and encourage a more even complexion. A licensed aesthetician or dermatologist can evaluate your skin and let you know if you are a good candidate for the process.[Read: 5 Tips for Acne Scars]