Acne sucks. Even after the pain of tackling the root of the problem, you can be left with unsightly acne marks and scars. Luckily, there are treatments that can help reduce or even eliminate these issues. Because of the differences between the various kinds of marks & scars, they each require different treatments. Read on to find out how to treat PIE, PIH and scarring.
Determine what kind of marks or scars you have
You ought to first identify the kind of acne marks & scars you have, as the treatment varies for each kind. This is because of the fundamental differences in how they’re formed and why they’re lingering. Once you know what kind of marks you’re really dealing with, you can focus on the treatment for that exact issue.
How do I minimise PIE aka. post inflammatory erythema?
PIE is tough to treat and it’s slow battle. There are certain kinds of treatments like pulsed dye laser (V-Beam) that can be effective against PIE, but unfortunately it’s one of those things where for most it’s a waiting game. There is not a lot else you can do to deliberately fade PIE marks fast. Luckily, our bodies naturally sort these out over time – over the period of a few months to a year. You can help it along with IPL treatments that target and remove excess surface capillaries which contribute to red marks like PIE.
How do I treat PIH aka. post inflammatory hyperpigmentation?
As with PIE, treating PIH is a process requiring lots of dedication and patience. The most effective system is two-fold – pigmentation removal and pigmentation prevention.
You can remove pigment with lightening ingredients and exfoliation. Lightening ingredients reverse the pigmentation in the skin. These include Hydroquinone, Vitamin C, Arbutin, Niacinamide and more. These will slowly lighten the marks over time until they completely disappear. Exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids remove the hyper-pigmented skin. You can use products containing small amounts of these daily or weekly, like Derma E Overnight Peel or Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Pads. Alternatively you can go the peel route at a dermatologist.
However, these methods only work when using a high SPF sunscreen every day. That’s right – every day. Not wearing SPF will cause PIH to darken further and ruin any progress you’ve made. Think of them like freckles – every time you go out unprotected they will get darker. You will not be able to successfully get rid of PIH without sunscreen. For complete combination (chemical and physical) protection, I use Sunplay Superblock SPF 50+ PA++++.
How do I deal with scarring?
Removing acne scarring is often more expensive, time consuming and invasive than treating acne marks. But it is certainly possible! You will have to consult a dermatologist or aesthetician for the following services:
Chemical peels are done in an aesthetician or dermatologist’s office. Lactic, Glycolic, or Salicylic acid are more gentle peels that encourage your skin to turn its outer layers. More intense peels such as Jessner’s or TCA are available for drastic scarring. These will cause your skin to dry up then peel off over the course of a week or so. The new skin underneath will be smoother in texture, and free from scars. In especially bad cases, multiple peels might be needed. For superficial scarring, an at-home peel such as The Ordinary’s Peeling Solution might do the trick.
Fractional CO2 Laser is another very effective treatment for all kinds of acne scars. This treatment essentialy ‘burns’ tiny dots into your skin in a grid-like fashion. This triggers a healing process where new collagen is produced, filling in or smoothing out the scar. While there can be some notable downtime for this procedure, the results are very impressive.
For some atrophic scars, dermal fillers can be skilfully injected to fill up the divots in the skin and create an even skin surface again. These last anywhere from a few months to many years.
There are many ways to treat acne marks and scars. Hopefully the above information will help you in choosing the right treatment for your scarring concerns. Try to be grateful to be at the stage where you aren’t dealing with active acne any more! Have patience, stick to your routine, and with time the results will come!