Few of us have been fortunate enough to get through the teens and into adulthood without some experience with acne breakouts. While acne is a bodily reaction to a physical symptom, it may have a greater impact on your emotional well-being. The emotional impact from acne can also be intensified when breakouts leave a lasting reminder in the form of acne scarring.
Science has yet to discover a substance that prevents acne entirely, but there are methods you can use to dramatically reduce the number and severity of breakouts. This in turn can reduce and possibly eliminate the chances of scarring.
The real cause of acne scarring
The idea that squeezing or "popping" pimples will cause scarring is little more than an old wives' tale. That's not to say that popping is a safe treatment. No matter how careful you might be, disrupting the infected area causes the bacteria to spread, which aggravates the condition.
A deep, persistent infection of nodular, cystic acne is the type of acne most likely to cause scarring. Scarring actually results from repeated breakouts affecting the same area of skin with your body trying desperately to heal the recurring inflammations, kicking the cellular regeneration process into hyper-drive.
Effective steps to control acne
Since scarring is typically the result of chronic cystic acne breakouts, the most effective treatment for preventing scars is preventing the acne breakouts from happening in the first place. By focusing on prevention, even minor improvements in length and intensity of breakouts can pay big dividends.
- Develop a practical skin care routine. There is certainly a wide range of products on the market that are safe and effective acne treatment options. Whenever possible, stick with gentle, non-abrasive, products with natural ingredients and be sure to avoid vigorous cleaning that will serve only to spread the bacteria. Consult a dermatologist for advice on building a routine to address your specific case.
- Maintain your skin care over time. If breakouts lessen or subside, that doesn't mean you’re in the clear. Be sure to stay disciplined and continue your skin care routine even in the absence of breakouts to discourage the formation of future ones.
- Avoid squeezing or popping. Popping or squeezing cystic acne will simply drive the infection deeper into the tissue, spreading the bacteria and the infections.
Treating acne scars
Simply treating cystic acne properly after it’s happened is no guarantee that scarring won’t occur. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lessen the appearance of scars and improve recovery time.
- Avoid exposure to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight can exacerbate the effects of acne scarring, making it more visible and negatively impacting the overall recovery. Whenever possible, stay out of direct sunlight during peak hours from 10 AM to 2 PM and always use sunscreen with at least 30+ SPF.
- Avoid vitamin E products. Vitamin E was once considered to be a "wonder" treatment for scars, but medical research has disproved that claim. When applied topically, vitamin E can also cause contact dermatitis, adding to your skin's inflammation.
- Give it time. Having patience in treating acne scars is very important. Giving your body time to produce the collagen that it will need to refill the scarred areas is critical. For more stubborn scars, talk to your dermatologist about advanced treatments such as dermalinfusion.
Fortunately, you have a variety of available resources to fight back. With preventative maintenance, you can develop an effective battle plan to sharply reduce acne outbreaks and avoid the possibility of scarring.