Do Acne Scars Ever Go Away?

Young woman with acne problem on white background

The Skin We’re In

Healthy skin is beautiful. Soft, smooth, and supple.

Skin is composed of intricately placed microscopic cells. The skin cells that grace the face create a volatile and delicate canvas.

Facial skin is constantly reacting. It reacts to stress from the environment, free-radicals, hormones, diet, and nutritional deficiencies. Exposed skin cells are prone to breakouts, rashes, and acne.

Skin can suffer from excessive dryness, rosacea, psoriasis (best psoriasis shampoo), and eczema to name a few things. Consumers are on a vigilant quest to find the perfect products. They buy lotions and potions, acne medications, UV blockers, elixirs, and prescriptions to keep the face healthy, plump, and blemish-free. 

Serving as the body’s largest organ, the skin requires hydration, and perfect pH balance. And, our sebaceous glands excrete the right amount of oil to remain radiant and smooth.

Time and age, gravity, genetics, and misaligned hormones all serve to wreak havoc on skin. These factors alter the way the body’s glands function. Facial skin is thinner and more delicate, making it more susceptible.  

Small and Powerful

Sebaceous glands are small and powerful, residing inside the pores. These unique glands house the hair follicle. They produce and deliver essential oils to the skin’s surface, and  keep precious skin cells lubricated.

Sebaceous glands assist the body in retaining just the right amount of hydration. The human body’s largest organ maintains a maximum of 6000 sebaceous glands per square inch. Left unclean, the sebaceous glands collect too much oil, free-radicals, and dirt. 

A dirty pore acts like a laboratory, festering and growing bacteria. What grows in the pore lab: acne.

Many treatments are available to fight the war against acne. Severe and painful acne send the skin cells into a state of irreparable damage. Left behind, after the cleaning, toning, and treatments are the remnants.

The effects of acne damage: scars. Pits, divots, and craters form on the face, neck, and shoulders. Acne scars don’t discriminate. Anywhere a sebaceous gland lives, acne will stake a claim.

What’s Left Behind

If the painful, swollen bumps and pustules aren’t enough, the fallout can be devastating. Pimples in close proximity form larger blemishes. The formation of pimple clusters breaks down the individual follicle wall, creating bigger lesions.

Acne scars are the remnants left behind after these lesions heal. Much like a burn or a wound, the body goes into repair overdrive. It produces new skin cells and sends collagen to fill in the divots and depressions.

Over time the tissue repairs. But, the smoothness, texture, and skin tone usually don’t match the original unblemished skin.

Acne and acne scarring create a stigma. Having acne is bad enough. Seeing the reminder of acne in the form of scars can be defeating. What’s worse, if left untreated, the acne often continues to fester in and around the scars. This can create unhealthy cyclic behaviors, like repeated picking and squeezing.

Touching the face serves as a conduit. It moves and spreads bacteria to new healthy pores and follicles, creating bigger cysts. This in turn destroys the cellular wall. It can leave larger, more aggressive scars on the face.

Makeup? – Don’t Accentuate!

Many turn to cosmetics to “hide” acne scars and pimples. Acne scars are large areas of discolored skin pigmentation where the clusters of acne have left their mark.

Makeup, primers, and tinted acne cover up sticks actually draw attention to acne. Covering acne scars with makeup only serves to inflame the skin and prolong acne redness, irritation, and burning pain. Acne scars accentuate the makeup. It appears as a darker shade on the acne scar. 

Cosmetics are formulated as foundations, providing even coverage on the surface of the skin. Acne and acne scars, hidden by makeup, clog the pores and irritate the skin.

Acne scars sit lower on the skin’s surface. Makeup creates a shadow effect, drawing attention to the scars. Acne and acne scars need time to heal. Blemishes don’t require the use of cosmetics. To avoid scarring, treat blemished skin with a powerful topical or prescription treatment to aid in the healing process. And don’t pick.

Applying cosmetics feels like a fix, but makeup is temporary, and doesn’t benefit the skin’s ability to repair and replace the damaged skin with fresh healthy skin cells. Cosmetics are filled with petroleum distillates, parabens, formaldehyde, lead, and Triclosan, an antimicrobial chemical linked to thyroid issues and antibiotic resistance.

These ingredients, along with the existing bacteria and excess sebum, are a recipe for acne scar disaster. 

A Scar is Born

After a burn or a scrape, fibrous tissues – twisted strands of collagen – go to work and replace skin cells and tissue. Picked pimples and squeezed pustules not only hurt and burn, they cause embarrassment. In the process of picking, the skin cells erode around the pore’s opening, leaving fibrous tissue to replace gorgeous healthy facial skin. A scar is born. Clusters of picked pimples leave clusters of acne scars. The skin loses its smoothness and soft texture and is left with pock marks, divots, and craters.

Most treatments for acne scars are done professionally. Costs for these services range between $240 – $3000. Here are some treatments to consider.

  • Chemical peels – Chemical solutions applied to the face remove the outer layers of skin. This process allows for new skin cells to regenerate and fill in the scars.
  • Dermabrasion – Surgical sanding or planing of the dermis layer. 
  • Micro Needling – Small needles make micro injuries to the skin’s surface, encouraging natural collagen production and lighter, tighter, and rejuvenated skin.
  • Tissue filler injections – Fills in divots and recesses with a non-absorbable, FDA-approved permanent material.
  • Punch Replacement Graft – This surgery requires cutting out the acne scar and replacing the skin removed with a graft of skin taken from the back of the ear. Ouch.

On a Budget?

  • Time & Age – Patience is a great remedy and saves money. Over time, acne scars tend to lighten and smoothen out. Consider the right acne treatment. For severe cases of acne scarring, always speak to a professional dermatologist. Understand the risks and side effects. Sometimes it’s best to wait for the human body to regenerate and do its best work on its own.

Options for Every Face

To reduce the possibility of acne scarring, stop picking and popping blemishes and pimples. Hands to face is bacteria to pore. Cleanse and exfoliate to flatten bumps, help smooth out older scars, and keep new scars from forming.

Treat delicate facial skin to the soothing benefits of anti-inflammatory cleansing. Use a cleanser that works to eradicate the current state of acne and minimize new breakouts. Look for cleansing products containing two powerful acne-fighting ingredients. 

  • Salicylic acid: Minimize and keep pores free of dirt and oil. 
  • Benzoyl peroxide: The number one bacteria killer. 

Try a great over-the-counter product, or make an appointment with a trained aesthetician to treat dark spots, discoloration, and minor pigmentation issues. Consider a prescription topical retinoid cream to accelerate the process. Vitamin A works to even skin tone. It powers up the skin’s ability to speed cell recovery and boost collagen production. 

Some skin is genetically predisposed for severe acne. For a powerhouse treatment, consult with a dermatologist, and make an informed decision about the best possible acne scar removal or reduction procedure.

Some simple key strategies and skin care routines keep acne scarring to a minimum. Keep facial skin clean and lightly moisturized. Don’t pick, dig, or pop clogged pores. Go to bed with a clean face.

Acne eventually goes away. However, at the end of the day, a scar is a scar, and it’s there to stay.

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