The bad news: There's no secret ingredient or miracle gadget that makes scars totally disappear. Don't get discouraged, though. A lot of what you think is acne scarring is really just hyperpigmentation or erythema (brown or red spots) rather than an actual change in the texture of the skin. Plus, there's a bevy of gels, creams, and treatments that can bring that discoloration down. We asked top dermatologists to recommend the most effective of the bunch.
The first and most important rule isn't groundbreaking: Remember to wash your face! Cleansing and treating your skin twice a day is the best way to keep breakouts away. For those emergencies when you're just too tired to wash your face, keep a stash of face wipes in the drawer of your nightstand. This way if you get home super late and don’t feel like going all the way to the sink, you can still go to bed with clean skin!
Treatments like radiofrequency microneedling, lasers, and fillers can be effective to treat acne scars, but they can run you hundreds of dollars per treatment. And Hellman says you'll need six to eight treatments and a good amount of time before seeing results. "The process takes a good part of a year," she says. (Her office does offer some package options to help offset some of the cost.)
Steroid injections: If you feel a stress pimple rearing its ugly head, a steroid shot can be administered the same day you call your derm because the process is very fast. Not only does it immediately reduce the inflammation of an existing zit, but cortisone can also help thick scars (keloids) appear softer and flatter. "These are specifically for raised scars, however," says Dr. Shah. "It'll help flatten out the scar, but it won't do anything to any discrepancies in the texture."
Cystic Acne: The most severe type of acne, cystic acne requires dermatological care and prescription acne medication to treat. Even the best acne products available over the counter are no match for this painful condition in which the area of the outbreak becomes inflamed, but not infected. Cystic acne can result in permanent scarring. However, it's important to know that all acne lesions can scar. Scarring is related to size, amount of inflammation, genetics and delay in therapy.
In dermatology, PDT with the photosensitizer Levulan Kerastick (20% delta-aminolevulinic acid HCl) is used for the treatment of very early, thin skin cancers called actinic keratoses (AK). The initial approval was specifically for the treatment of actinic keratosis of the face and scalp with a combination of an application of the photosensitizer followed by a timed exposure to a special blue light source. PDT is also used for acne, rosacea, skin cancer, sun damage, cosmetic skin improvement, oily skin, enlarged sebaceous glands, wrinkles, rejuvenation (anti-aging), warts, hidradenitis suppurativa, psoriasis, and many other skin conditions.
Rosacea (ro-zay-sha) is a common, acne-like benign inflammatory skin disease of adults, with a worldwide distribution. Rosacea affects an estimated 16 million people in the United States alone and approximately 45 million worldwide. Most people with rosacea are Caucasian and have fair skin. The main symptoms and signs of rosacea include red or pink facial skin, small dilated blood vessels, small red bumps sometimes containing pus, cysts, and pink or irritated eyes. Many people who have rosacea may just assume they have very sensitive skin that blushes or flushes easily.
Some individuals have absolutely no symptoms, and rosacea doesn't bother them. They may enjoy perfectly healthy normal lives without any effect from this benign skin condition. Some patients really like the pink glow to their cheeks and find it gives them a pleasant color without having to use blush. They may not even know they have rosacea. They usually do not want to use any treatment.
Lin says he recommends applying egg whites directly to a pimple to shrink a breakout. “The protein in the egg will help dry out the pimple,” he says. “You can also apply honey to a breakout to calm redness. Honey is a naturally soothing ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties that helps heal the skin. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes, then wipe away with a damp cloth.”
Acne scar treatment: Energy-based skin resurfacing with a laser, radiofrequency, or an ultrasound device can help treat boxcar scars, according to Nada Elbuluk, MD, an assistant professor at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. “They all work by creating new collagen beneath the surface of the skin.” A series of treatments is likely needed based on the extent of scarring, she says. Chemical peels can also help but to a lesser extent. With either procedure, using a retinoid to increase cell turnover and further boost collagen can help improve results, Dr. Elbuluk adds.
Baldwin says squeezing is the best way to get rid of blackheads, but it should be left to a professional if possible. “A good cosmetologist can do an awesome facial," she says. “Pore strips can also help. But both of these are made much easier by starting on a retinoid first. Prescription retinoids soften the pore contents and make the whole process more successful and less painful. With time they will also eradicate the blackheads." The best way to get rid of blackheads for good is with a skin care regimen and the best acne products for clearing the pores. Do not try to pop blackheads or dislodge the blockage with your nails, as your hands may introduce new bacteria to the pores. Instead, see how to get rid of acne fast and prevent blackheads with these acne treatments:
Acne is reported to be less common in people that have a diet with lower glycaemic index, eg, natives from Kitava and Papua New Guinea, the Ache people of Paraguay, Inuits and rural residents of Kenya, Zambia and Bantu. These people tend to become sexually mature at a later age than in the cities where higher glycaemic index foods are consumed. Early puberty is associated with earlier onset and more severe acne that tends to peak at the time of full maturity (age 16 to 18).
So, what causes this skin disorder ruiner of first dates slash everything? Mainly the overproduction of oil; blocked hair follicles that don't allow the aforementioned oil to leave the pore, which often results in a clogged pore; and the growth of bacteria inside the hair follicles called P. acnes. However, along with the above factors and genetics, which plays a role in how your body reacts to different hormones in your body and can cause acne, there are certain patterns you could be repeating on a daily basis that can cause you to break out or can even exacerbate your already annoying issue. Here are some of the most surprising triggers — take heed, acne-prone people, so you, too, can have blemish-free, glowing skin!
Prescription Medications. Medications that affect hormones, like birth control pills, can help control acne. You might also discuss antibiotic pills and prescription retinoids with your dermatologist. There are also antibiotics that are effective. Doctors may prescribe Aldactone (spironolactone), which was first made to treat high blood pressure, to treat acne. "That works miracles but it can take three months to kick in," Day says. Isotretinoin is another prescription drug for acne, but you can't take it if you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
Our second primary treatment, the Icon Laser, offers patients the best results for smoother skin. Laser therapy breaks up the scar with laser light. It punches holes in the collagen without ever piercing the skin. Because it doesn’t break the skin, recovery tends to be quicker after this treatment. Also, lasers penetrate deep into the skin causing long-lasting results.
Shower twice a day. Take a shower or bath in the morning and at night. Alternatively, take a shower in the morning and then again after physical activity, like exercise, or sweating. Wash your entire body with a mild cleanser and use shampoos that limit oil production in your hair. Be sure to always shower after exercising to remove the dead skin cells your body has sloughed off through sweating.
Think about it, if their "cure" really cured your acne, how are they going to continue profiting off of you? At best, the product will reduce your acne breakouts slightly, but definitely not completely. At worst, the product will do nothing at all or possibly make your acne worse! The key is buying your anti acne products from trusted, well reviewed companies that have helped thousands of acne sufferers. Buying over the counter is like flushing your money down the bowl -- don't do it!
Many people use beaten egg whites as a facial acne mask. The mask is applied to the face for about 15 minutes, then it is washed off and the skin is GENTLY patted dry with a soft cloth. Eggs have potent healing properties (due to the protein contained within) which makes this a great method for healing and clearing away acne. This is by no means an overnight acne cure, so don't get upset when you find out you have to use this technique for a matter of weeks before the effects begin to show.
Acne scar treatment: Injections of steroids can flatten keloid scars, according to Dr. Elbuluk. When they are discolored or red, there is some active inflammation in the skin. “The goal is to make the inflammation go away,” she says, “and certain lasers, such as pulsed dye laser, can improve any discoloration by targeting blood vessels.” Cryosurgery freezes the scar tissue, causing it to slough off, but this can cause pigmentation problems of its own among people with darker skin, who are already at higher risk for keloids. Prevention has an important role to play for anyone who is prone to keloids, she says. Using a scar-minimizing treatment like Mederma and/or silicone gel scar sheets before scars form can help stave off a keloid. Vitamin C serums such as Kiehl’s ‘Clearly Corrective’ Dark Spot Solution, Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Serum, Skinceuticals C E FERULIC® vitamin C serum, or Kiss My Face C The Change (Ester C Serum) can also reduce pigmentation around a keloid scar.
"Leafy green vegetables and other brightly-colored fruit and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants and nutrients dampen inflammation and improve skin quality (studies have shown acne patients have higher oil production and lower antioxidant levels)," says Dr. Weiser. "Limit intake of dairy products, which can contain hormones and antibiotics that can worsen acne breakouts." Other skin-boosting superfoods include eggs, nuts, legumes, and quinoa.
Oral contraceptives: Oral contraceptives (birth control pills), which are low in estrogen to promote safety, have little effect on acne one way or the other. Some contraceptive pills have been shown to have modest effectiveness in treating acne. Those that have been U.S. FDA approved for treating acne are Estrostep, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Yaz. Most dermatologists work together with primary care physicians or gynecologists when recommending these medications.