How to Get Rid of Acne Scars Fast

Has your skin been acting up? You're probably worried that those pimples will turn into scars, or maybe you already see signs that they already are.  It's completely understandable, your skin is like a baby. It needs TLC.  In this article, we'll answer questions such as, what are acne scars, how they develop, types, and best ways to treat them.  

What Are Acne Scars?

Acne scars are a common complication caused by acne.  It can result from the body's inflammatory response to acne lesions (a.k.a. the immune system's response to irritants, foreign bacteria and viruses). The severity and duration of acne, as well as the individual's skin healing process, influence the formation of scars. Think of this as a big rock in your pores.  While, your pores can handle it for a while, the elasticity and structure will eventually change over time. 

Types of Acne Scars

The severity and duration of acne, as well as the individual's skin healing process, influence the formation of scars. There are several types of acne scars:

  1. Atrophic Scars: These are the most common type of acne scars, characterized by a loss of tissue. They can be further classified into:

    • Ice pick scars: Deep and narrow scars that extend into the dermis.
    • Boxcar scars: Broad, box-like depressions with sharply defined edges.
    • Rolling scars: Caused by fibrous bands between the skin and underlying tissue, giving the skin a rolling and uneven appearance.
  2. Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars: Hypertrophic scars don't over flow out of the borders of the injury, and reduces overtime, While, keloid scars are known to be raised above the skin, and do not reduce in it's appearance over time.

The pathogenesis of acne scarring is complex and not fully understood, but it involves aspects like inflammation, collagen remodeling, and wound healing processes. The psychological and social impact of acne scars is significant, often affecting the individual's quality of life.

How Are Acne Scars Developed?

Acne scars develop as a result of the body's response to acne lesions, involving several biological processes that contribute to the formation and types of scars. The pathogenesis of acne scarring, although not fully understood, is believed to involve the following key mechanisms:

  1. Inflammation: The inflammatory response to acne lesions plays a critical role in scar development. Inflammatory mediators and immune cells are involved in the process, leading to tissue damage and scarring (Holland & Jeremy, 2004).

  2. Abnormal Wound Healing: Acne scars, particularly hypertrophic scars, are a result of abnormal wound healing processes. Myofibroblasts, B cells, and mast cells have been observed in varying densities in different types of these scars, suggesting their role in scar pathogenesis (Chancheewa et al., 2022).

  3. Fibrogenetic and Inflammatory Markers: The formation of hypertrophic acne scars has been linked to the roles of fibrogenetic and inflammatory markers, such as TGF-β, SMAD proteins, and cytokines like TNF-α and IL-4. These factors contribute to the fibrotic process leading to scar formation (Yang et al., 2018).

  4. Genetic Factors: Genetic predispositions may also play a role in the development of acne and its progression to scarring. Specific genes have been implicated in regulating inflammation, apoptosis, and scar formation (Zúñiga- Gazcón, 2022).

  5. Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress has been suggested to contribute to acne pathogenesis, with a correlation between acne severity and oxidative biomarkers. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) may play a role in inflammation and scarring by altering the generation of proinflammatory cytokines (Kardeh et al., 2019).

Simply put, it isn't one thing.  While, it can develop from Inflammation, and abnormal wound healing, which were mentioned above, new studies have discovered that fibrogenetic and inflammatory markers, oxidative stress, and specific genes regulating inflammation, apoptosis can create those undesirable scars. By understanding these mechanisms is crucial for developing targeted treatments to prevent and manage acne scarring effectively.

How Long Does it Take for Acne Scars to Fade?

The natural fading of acne scars can vary significantly depending on the type of scars and individual skin healing processes. The research literature does not provide a precise timeline for the natural fading of acne scars. However, several studies discuss treatment methods and their effectiveness in reducing acne scarring over time.

For instance, treatments like chemabrasion, laser therapy, dermabrasion, and non-ablative fractional laser are often used to improve the appearance of acne scars, but these studies focus on the outcomes post-treatment rather than the natural fading process (Picosse et al., 2012); (Saluja et al., 2017); (Aronsson et al., 1997).

In general, the natural healing process of the skin and the reduction of acne scars can take several months to years, and the degree of improvement without treatment can be minimal. Factors such as the depth and severity of the scars, skin type, and overall health can influence the healing process. Some scars may fade slightly over time, but many people seek dermatological treatments for more significant improvement due to the typically slow and limited nature of natural scar fading.

For personalized advice and a more accurate estimation of the healing time for acne scars, consulting a dermatologist is recommended. They can provide insights based on individual skin types and scar characteristics.

What's the Best Treatment for Acne Scars?

There are no direct solution for removing acne scars, but there are treatments that make it less noticeable. This depends on the type and severity of the scars, as well as individual patient factors. Current research suggests several effective treatments:

  1. Nonablative Radiofrequency (RF): Microneedle bipolar RF and fractional bipolar RF treatments have shown promising results for acne scarring, offering an improvement of 25%–75% after three to four treatment sessions (Simmons et al., 2014).

  2. Laser Therapy: Laser treatments, including infrared wavelengths, pulsed dye lasers, and fractional laser resurfacing, have been effective in the treatment of acne vulgaris and acne scarring. Combination treatments with medical therapy often yield optimal outcomes (Alexiades, 2017).

  3. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Laser Therapy: Combining PRP with laser therapy has been used for acne scars, though larger studies are needed to better evaluate this treatment and determine the best modality (Schoenberg et al., 2019).

  4. Dermabrasion: Dermabrasion works best for superficial scars, with less predictable results for more severe forms of scarring (Aronsson et al., 1997).

  5. Microneedling: Microneedling (different from microneedle patches for pimples) has been shown to be more effective than 35% glycolic acid peels for treating acne scars, especially in patients with darker skin tones (Ishfaq et al., 2022)

  6. Combination Therapy: Combining various modalities such as fractional radiofrequency, chemical peels, laser treatments, and dermal fillers may be required for optimal results, as individual patients commonly display more than one scar type (Roh & Chung, 2019).

The choice of treatment should be tailored to the individual's scar type, extent of scarring, and skin type. Consulting with a dermatologist for a personalized treatment plan is recommended.

Why Do My Acne Scars Look Worse Some Days?

Acne scars can vary from day to day due to several factors. While the exact reasons for this variation are not extensively detailed in the current scientific literature, some potential factors influencing the daily changes include:

  1. Inflammation: Fluctuations in the inflammatory response of the skin can cause acne scars to appear more prominent on some days. This can be influenced by factors such as active acne, skin irritation, or certain skincare products (Holland et al., 2004).

  2. Hydration and Skin Care: The level of hydration in your skin can affect its appearance. Dehydrated skin may make scars appear more pronounced, while well-moisturized skin can reduce their visibility.

  3. Diet and Lifestyle Factors: Diet, stress, and sleep quality can impact skin health and may influence the appearance of acne scars. For instance, certain foods might trigger inflammation or hormonal fluctuations that could temporarily worsen the appearance of scars.

  4. Environmental Factors: Exposure to sunlight, pollution, and changes in weather can affect the skin’s health and appearance. For example, sun exposure can darken scars and make them more noticeable.

  5. Skin Care Products and Medications: Certain skincare products or medications, especially those that cause photosensitivity or skin irritation, can affect how scars look.

  6. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, which can be due to menstrual cycles, stress, or medical conditions, can affect skin appearance and thus the visibility of scars.

  7. Physical Activity: Increased blood flow during exercise can temporarily make scars more visible due to redness and inflammation.

While these factors can contribute to the daily variation in the appearance of acne scars, it's important to remember that individual experiences may vary. For personalized advice, consulting a dermatologist is recommended. They can provide insights based on your specific skin type and condition.

Does Benzoyl Peroxide Help Acne Scars?

Benzoyl peroxide is primarily known for its effectiveness in treating active acne rather than acne scars. However, some studies have examined its impact on acne scars, particularly when used in combination with other treatments.  As it kills bacteria and cleanses dead skin cells, as well as, reducing excess oil, it may have very little effects on decreasing the appearance of these types of scars.  

Does Vitamin C Help with Acne Scars?

Vitamin C has been studied for its potential benefits in the treatment of acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH. The research indicates that Vitamin C, especially when used in combination with other treatments, can be effective in improving the appearance of acne scars:

  1. Glycolic Acid Peel with Vitamin C: A study by Khee et al. (2017) found that a combination of 70% glycolic acid peel with vitamin C significantly improved acne scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in Asian skin.

  2. Microneedling Combined with Vitamin C: A split-face comparative study by Chakrawarty & Jaiswal (2017) showed that microneedling combined with topical vitamin C was more effective than microneedling alone in treating facial acne scars. Note that this combination has varying effects on each type of acne scarring.

  3. Microdermabrasion with Vitamin C: A study by Mohhmed & Elmagd (2019) evaluated the efficacy of diamond microdermabrasion with topical vitamin C in treating acne scars but found it to be ineffective for post-acne atrophic scars.

  4. Topical Vitamin C: Another approach using a vitamin C complex lotion for postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, erythema, and atrophic scar in acne vulgaris was tested by Kurokawa et al. (2019), showing positive results.

  5. Microneedling with Topical Vitamin C: The study by Nada et al. (2018) also supports the efficacy of microneedling with topical vitamin C in the treatment of acne scars.

These studies suggest that vitamin C, particularly when used in combination with other treatments like chemical peels, microneedling, or microdermabrasion, can be beneficial in treating acne scars. However, it is essential to consult with a dermatologist to determine the most appropriate treatment based on individual skin types and scar characteristics. 

As a idea for post skincare routines, especially when you don't have a routine, integrating Vitamin C Brightening Complex Cream after the above mentioned solutions (waiting for the appropriate period to heal), may be a great way to further decrease the appearance further. As it is created to even out skin tone, and brighten it was well.  

In Summary

There are many types of acne scars and solutions such as nonablative radiofrequency, laser therapy, and microneedling, but, these will not fully reduce the scars from your skin.  While, combining these with other ingredients such as Vitamin C, which is already well known in the skincare industry, for it's skin benefits can be even better.  But, always, go to your dermatologist or skin professional for medical advice before attempting anything.  

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