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Scars are varied and complex, and learning how to get rid of acne marks requires trial and error. There are a variety of ways to get rid of acne scars and each corner has a different proponent. However, before you go jumping on the bandwagon for the latest cure-all, we suggest breaking down the various treatments methods into their disparate parts.
Back acne (sometimes called “bacne") is a potentially embarrassing and sometimes painful condition where clogged hair follicles on the back cause pimples and blackheads. Back acne can be caused by the same factors as other types of acne: diet, hormones, certain medications, genetics, or any combination thereof. But when you're considering how to get rid of back acne, also remember that most people have their back covered the majority of the day. The clothing we wear matters, and the way in which we wash the skin on our back are key for clear skin, the whole body over. Learn more about common back acne causes, the best acne products for your body, and how to prevent acne on the back from returning in this section.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the newly available treatments. PDT uses a topical photosensitizer liquid that one applies to the skin and a light to activate the sensitizer. Levulan (aminolevulinic acid) and blue light, commonly used to treat pre-cancers (actinic keratosis) and acne vulgaris, can treat some rosacea patients. The use of PDT in rosacea is off-label, since it is primarily designed for regular acne. PDT works at reducing the inflammation; PDT is performed in a physician's office. The treatment takes anywhere from one to one and a half hours to complete. Strict sun avoidance for approximately one to three days is required after the treatment. Mild discomfort during the treatment and a mild to moderate sunburn appearance after the treatment is common. Some patients have experienced remissions (disease-free periods) of several months to years from these types of treatments. Other patients may not notice significant improvement.
"If you occupy the area [under the skin] with a cyst, it destroys fat around it. Once the cyst goes away, the loss causes indentation," Dr. Karolak explains. A boxcar scar is a depression that has hidden scar tissue, which acts like an accordion pulling the scar downward. Subsicion is one solution for these deeper scars. Subsicion uses a sharp needle to go under the surface and break up that scar tissue. Then, you can fill it in with fillers made specifically for acne scars like Bellafill. Or you can do a fat transfer. "One of my favorite treatments for volume loss is fat transfer, which allows me to take inject a patient's own body fat instead of synthetic filler," says Dr. Karolak. Another treatment for boxcar scars is punch excision where the indented area of the scar is removed and the edges are pulled together with a suture. These treatments are often followed up with a collagen-boosting laser treatment.
Potentially the easiest and cheapest option, "Clay masks help draw out impurities such as dirt and oil at the surface level of the skin which helps with acne breakouts. It will help to dry up the acne," says Dr. Bank. You can usually find a large tube (meant for your entire face) at the drugstore, and using it as a spot treatment will make it last forever. Just look for a mask with kaolin or bentonite clay as the primary ingredient.
29. Antibiotics are an option. Oral antibiotics are usually used for moderate to severe acne, especially on the back or chest, and kill bacteria in your skin pores. The ones most commonly used are tetracycline and erythromycin. Like all antibiotics, they can cause yeast infections as well as more severe side effects and can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. They can also cause increased sun sensitivity, so you'll need to be extra careful when going outside and use SPF daily. For more extreme cases, your doctor may suggest Isotretinoin (Accutane), which is used in moderate to severe cases of acne when nothing else works, but can have more extreme side effects.
If saving babysitting money for a year still won't make a dent in the funds you need to get a fancy laser treatment that will blast away acne scars, don't be discouraged. Thanks to the geniuses behind drugstore brands like La Roche-Posay, there's a new class of products that feature smart technology and better-than-ever ingredients to help treat dark marks and acne scars — at an affordable price. “La-Roche Posay’s Pigmentclar line is unique in the way it combines exfoliating lipohydroxy acid (LHA), phe-resorcinol, and ferulic acid, which are both strong brightening ingredients, all together to form a topical product that’s seriously effective," says dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara.
"Fluctuation in hormones, such as before one's menstrual cycle, is the main cause," explains dermatologist Julia Tzu, M.D., of Wall Street Dermatology. Specifically, androgens (male hormones) like testosterone. This usually rears its ugly head in the form of deep (painful) cystic acne around the chin, neck, and back, says dermatologist Rebecca Kazin, M.D., F.A.A.D., of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology.
Unfortunately, sometimes our workout routines can have a negative effect on our skin and be a cause of acne. One of the top perpetrators of gym-related skin conditions is dirty workout equipment. Whether it’s a yoga mat, weights, or handle bars on a cardio machine, shared gym equipment is filled with bacteria and dirt. When this comes into the contact with the skin and sits on the surface, it can cause skin irritation. If you don’t shower immediately after working out, the mixture of sweat, body oils, and bacteria can remain heavy on the surface of your skin, settling back into your pores and causing the onset of pimples.
Your body is capable of taking care of your scars and they will get lighter with time. However, if you expose them to the sun, their healing process will slow down and the scars will get darker. So, avoid the sun. If it’s essential to go out in sun, use sunscreen to guard your skin and also cover yourself with hat, umbrella, clothes- whatever you can lay hands on.
Take a fresh lemon and squeeze out its juice. Apply this juice directly on your scars with fingertips or a cotton ball, leave it for ten minutes and wash it off with water. Do this once a day for two to three weeks during which you can see your scars diminish considerably. If you want, you can also mix honey with your lemon juice to make it some more effective in reducing the acne scars.
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.
20. Know your options. Benzoyl peroxide products are great at fighting pimples, but can be drying to your skin, so use them only once a day (or every other day). If it's drying out or irritating your skin, switch out your cleanser for a gentle formula. (Keep up your regular acne spot treatment, but use just a dab!) It will clear away dirt and oil without stripping your skin of moisture. Salicylic acid (in creams, gels, astringents, or masks) dries less than benzoyl peroxide, so it can be used with more-drying cleansers.
Patients first receive a topical anesthetic, which works for about an hour before the device goes on. "When you’re done," she explains, "it looks like your skin has tiny holes — almost pixelated or grid-like — and I follow with SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Acid, a hyaluronic acid serum, and Luxamend (a prescription wound-healing cream that speeds up healing). Finally, we apply Aquaphor to create a barrier for the skin." Depending on the intensity of the laser, patients can expect anywhere from a few days of ruddiness to up to 10 to 14 for very high-intensity treatment. There is a risk of bleeding, infection, or scarring. As always, you'll need to consult with your dermatologist about whether this treatment is right for you.
According to dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, some scars are thick, raised hypertrophic scars that stick out above the skin; others are keloid, which are scars that have over-healed, and manifest as dense, rubbery skin tissue. Then, there are atrophic scars that appear as depressions in the skin — they're the most challenging to treat. The three main categories of atrophic scars are:
Get at least eight hours of sleep. Sleeping kills two birds with one stone, as it helps to relax your body as well as detoxify it. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, chances are your skin hasn’t had the time or ability to renew its skin cells. Regulate your sleep cycle by going to bed at a consistent time every night and sleeping for a minimum of eight hours at least.
Blackheads are a mild form of acne that appear as unsightly, open pores that appear darker than the skin surrounding them. They get their dark appearance from a skin pigment called melanin, which oxidizes and turns black when it's exposed to the air. Blackheads aren't caused by dirt, but by sebum (oil) and dead skin cells blocking the pore. If the pore remains open, it becomes a blackhead; if it's completely blocked and closed, it turns into a whitehead.
Can’t use the good stuff: The best medications for clearing acne include topical retinoids like Differin and Retin-A. The strong chemicals that are used in exfoliants can cause severe inflammation and sun irritation when combined with these medications. This means that you will have to choose between facials or proper medications. The choice is yours.
"Retinoids work over time by continuously increasing cell turnover which in turn helps fade hyperpigmentation," says Dr. Idriss. Dr. Shah agrees, noting that Retin-A helps with acne marks by causing your skin cells to "divide more rapidly and pushing out cells with discolored pigments." Since retinoids make your skin super-sensitive to the sun, it's best to not only wear SPF, but to also apply a treatment like RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream before you go to bed.
Wondering how to get rid of acne fast? While you can't get rid of a pimple overnight, there are plenty of doctor-approved acne treatments that can shrink zits significantly—and zap redness and irritation—in a mere 24 hours (which should make it much easier to cover up. We talked to top dermatologists to get the scoop on what actually works when it comes to banishing blemishes. Read on for 11 ways to get rid of acne, plus learn about the different types of acne and what each type responds to best when it comes to treatment.
Inflammatory Acne: Inflammatory acne is red bumps and pustules, not whiteheads, blackheads and comedones. It does not necessarily start as them, either. It arises on its own. Whiteheads, blackheads or comedones that become inflamed can be painful and unsightly. Persistent inflammatory acne may require treatment by a physician or dermatologist, in addition to over-the-counter acne remedies.
Since lemon juice has a pH of 2 and skin's pH is 4.0-7.0, this method needs to be used carefully. If left on too long, or not diluted this can lead to significant chemical burns. Citrus juices also contains a chemical called Bergapten, which binds to DNA and allows UV radiation to damage skin more easily, so you need to watch your sun exposure if you have any citrus juice on your skin. Rinse it off before going into the sun, and wear sunscreen.
Exfoliating. Exfoliating products are used to gently remove dead skin cells that can build up and create a place for acne-causing bacteria to grow. You can purchase an exfoliant or make one using household ingredients. Those with dry skin can add coffee grounds to their regular cleansing product. A standard treatment can be made by creating a paste made from water and baking soda and applying it with a circular motion on the face. Those with sensitive skin can use a gentler treatment by mixing oatmeal with honey and rubbing it on the face for 2-3 minutes before rinsing it away.
Fillers. A substance such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, or fat can be used to "fill out" certain types of acne scars, especially those that have resulted in a depressed appearance of the skin. Since fillers are eventually absorbed into your skin, you will have to repeat filler injections, usually every few months, depending on the type of product used. There is no downtime for recovery from this treatment.
People who escaped their teen years almost pimple-free may develop persistent adult-onset acne as they get older. Despite the normal increase in androgen levels during puberty, some doctors believe that flare-ups of acne have less to do with androgen levels than with how a person's skin responds to an increase in sebum production or to the bacteria that causes acne. The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes occurs naturally in healthy hair follicles. If too many of them accumulate in plugged follicles, they may secrete enzymes that break down sebum and cause inflammation. Some people are simply more sensitive than others to this reaction. Sebum levels that might cause a pimple or two in one person may result in widespread outbreaks -- or even acute cystic acne -- in another person.
Exfoliating cleansers and masks: A variety of mild scrubs, exfoliants, and masks can be used. These products may contain salicylic acid in a concentration that makes it a very mild peeling agent. These products remove the outer layer of the skin and thus open pores. Products containing glycolic or alpha hydroxy acids are also gentle skin exfoliants.