Acne scars take many different forms. You might see tiny pockmarks, a swollen keloid, or a discolored area on the skin. And just like the types of scars vary, there isn't a one-size-fits-all fix. Your dermatologist can use a combination of treatments including lasers, chemical peels, or fillers to minimize the spots. "Once there is scarring you can't get the skin back to the way it was before," says Dr. Karolak. "But we can get it to look significantly better, so that [clients] feel more comfortable in social environments."
Some skin advocates suggest foregoing this method. The pH of baking soda is 7.0, which is far too basic for skin's pH. Optimal skin pH occurs between 4.7 and 5.5, which is an inhospitable environment for p. acne (the bacteria responsible for causing most acne). By raising the pH to a more basic level, p. acne is able to survive longer and cause more infection and inflammation. So try this method with care, and stop using it if it's not effective for you.
Both Avram and Tzu recommend looking for products with mark-fading hydroquinone. Ambi Fade Cream includes 2 percent hydroquinone, the highest concentration allowed without a prescription. “It also contains soy, which is well known for treating pigmentation issues, and vitamin E which helps with scarring,” says Tzu. While the FDA considers hydroquinone safe, it is banned in Europe and can potentially cause irritation or further discoloration, so remember to patch-test and check with a dermatologist whether it’s right for you.
Drink plenty of water and follow a balanced diet. Although eating healthily and staying hydrated isn't going to magically make acne scars disappear, it will allow your body to perform at its best and help skin to heal itself. Water will flush toxins from the body and keep skin looking plump and firm, so you should aim to drink 5 to 8 glasses a day. Vitamins such as A, C and E will also help to feed the skin and keep it hydrated.
Another source of hormonal changes: stress. Whether you work full time, are a full-time mom, or juggle both, chances are, your stress levels are high. "When you're stressed, you have an organ called the adrenal gland that makes the stress hormone cortisol, and puts it out into the body to help the body deal with stress," Dr. Schultz explains. Unfortunately, a tiny bit of testosterone leaks out with it. For a woman, this male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil—the root cause of breakouts. (Thanks a lot, hormones!)
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.
With its natural inflammation-fighting properties, a 5 percent solution of tea tree oil is less harsh than a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide solution and can be just as effective against acne, though it may clear up a little less quickly. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with between 20 and 40 drops of witch hazel, then use a cotton swab to apply. Try this remedy up to twice a day; more could dry your skin and make the acne worse.
When you're feeling anxious, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess levels can signal acne to worsen, explains Lauren Eckert Ploch, a dermatologist with Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Augusta, GA. Light an aromatherapy candle. The dim flickering light, plus the soothing scents of eucalyptus and mint, instantly creates a chill environment.
We've all heard the foods that allegedly cause acne—chocolate, fried foods, pizza, caffeine, nuts. But Dr. Schultz reminds us that in large, statistically significant studies, these have not been proven to cause zits, but there are always exceptions. "If you break out when you eat chocolate, don't eat chocolate." Same with dairy, which again, has been shown in some cases to have an effect but no concrete cause-and-effect relationship exists.
To get rid of acne, wash your face with a pH balanced cleanser twice a day to eliminate acne-causing bacteria. You should also exfoliate your face at least once a week with a physical or chemical exfoliant which will remove dead skin cells that clog pores. Applying a benzoyl peroxide cream to your acne before you go to bed can also help get rid of breakouts.
Yes, it is possible to lessen, if not completely eliminate, your acne troubles with food. The key is knowing which foods help -- i.e antioxidant rich, fiber packed, protein loaded, vitamin soaked, healthy fat filled foods (that was quite a mouthful, wasn't it?) -- as well as which foods are really, really BAD for acne; i.e. sugar loaded, preservative packed, salt soaked, unhealthy fat filled foods.
Topical (external) applications: Antibacterial cleansers come in the form of gels, creams, and lotions that are applied to the affected area. The active ingredients that kill surface bacteria include benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and resorcinol. Some brands promoted on the Internet and cable TV (such as ProActiv) are much more costly than identical and sometimes more potent products one can buy in the drugstore.