Over the Counter Acne Scar Treatments
As if dealing with years of acne isn't insult enough, many people are left with acne scars from the trauma, leading to continued self-consciousness and embarassment. There are numerous solutions from dermatologists that are expensive and that work for some and not for others. If you want to try to tackle your acne scars without visiting a dermatologist, here are facial acne scar treatments that can help reduce acne scars, smooth skin, and restore confidence.
Acne Scars: Causes and Types
Acne scars are caused by the body's attempt to repair damage to the tissue. Some pimples remain as a flattened red spot that will disappear within 6 months (a macule); this is not a scar, but the body's natural last stage in healing. Other scars are the depressions that remain causing a pebbled surface on the face; these are the most traumatic for the acne sufferer. Most acne scars are due to a loss of tissue from the trauma of the inflammation of the pimple.
Types of Acne Scars
Icepick scars: These are unsightly, jagged-edged depressions in the face, as though the skin has been poked with an ice pick.
Soft, rolling scars: These are soft scars with rolling sides that blend into the skin around them. They give a sort of orange peel effect to the skin.
Boxed scars: These are generally shallower than icepick scars with square, boxy edges.
Hypertrophic scars: These are raised scars that remain within the boundaries of the original trauma.
Keloid scars: These are raised scars that go beyond the boundaries of the original trauma. The scar tissue has gone out of control in these cases.
Natural Acne Scar Treatments
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne Scars
For shallow, rolling acne scars--like an orange peel--try the following treatment:
Drink 8 glasses of water a day with half a teaspoon of lemon juice in each one. One easy way to accomplish this is to use a large bottle of water with half a teaspoon of lemon juice for every 8 ounces of water. The theory is that the lemon flushes toxins out of your body throughout the day; the removal of the toxins in the body helps stop the acne.
At the same time you are drinking the lemon juice, use the following vinegar solution on your face: 1 part apple cider vinegar, 2 parts water. Rub this into your face with a cotton ball morning and night. The malic acid in the vinegar gently exfoliates your skin and people have noticed improvements from using this natural solution. If you are using topical creams or moisturizers, use the vinegar solution before your topical regimen.
This natural acne scar treatment may take 2-3 months for visible improvement, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it does help with acne scars. The lemon juice water also can help with future breakouts by preventing acne internally because it flushes your system.
Camellia Seed Oil for Acne Scars
Camellia seed oil, also called silkia oil, is an oil derived from the evergreens camellias. The seeds are cold pressed and the oil is processed and filtered. Women in Asia have used silkia oil for centuries in their skin and hair. Primarily the oil is a moisturizer, and it is a good one--effective without being to heavy. There is anecdotal evidence, however, that silkia oil can plump the skin and can eliminate pockmarks and pitted acne scars over time. These effects can take around 1 year to 18 months, so it is not a quick fix, but it is not an expensive item and can be used as a moisturizer with the possible secondary benefits of scar removal. If you are still prone to breakouts, I would advise against using this product as it is an oil and can block pores.
Topical Over-the-Counter Acne Scar Treatments
University Medical Acnefree Pockmark Filler
One package runs about $15-$20, and consists of 4 pens, which is a month's supply. The hyaluronic acid ingredient is known for "plumping" skin up, so this method will work for indentations, pockmarks, and shallow, rolling acne scars. You apply it using the pen just to the scars morning and night, using one pen per week. It only works as long as you are using it, so it's not a cure. However, numerous users have found that this acne scar treatment does reduce the appearance of scars while it is being used.
Mederma is a topical scar remover, and is not specifically billed for acne scars. Evidence is that it can help with red and discolored areas, but does not have much effect on pitted acne scars. It is expensive (usually over $20 for a small tube) and can take several weeks to work. It is probably best used to prevent new scars from forming during the healing process.
Scar Zone is a topical scar remover, and like Mederma, is not specifically for acne scars. Evidence is that it can help with red marks and discoloration, but has little effect on pitted acne scars. It is generally less expensive than Mederma, and there is anecdotal evidence that it is as effective, though it (like Mederma) takes several weeks to work. The best applications of Scar Zone are likely during the healing process of a pimple to prevent acne scarring.
Glycolic acid increases cellular turnover, and is found in many wrinkle creams. While it won't be a miracle cure, over time a 10%-12% concentration of glycolic acid can help dimish pock marks and other depressions in the skin. It will probably be at least 6 months before there is a noticible reduction in acne scars.
Acne Scar Prevention
The best thing you can do is prevent future scars. Acne treatments are plentiful, and it seems that different things work on different people's acne. You can read what worked for me here. If you are in the process of getting your acne under control, follow these tips to prevent scarring.
- Don't pick--ever! Why is it so tempting to pick a zit? Sometimes it's as though it is calling to you to pop and pick at it, but resist this urge. This is a number one addition of trauma to the face that it does not need and your few minutes of satisfying picking will be rewarded with a lifetime of a scar. Hands off.
- Avoid scrubs. If you have a breakout, avoid using exfoliating scrubs that contain beads, walnut shells, or peach pits--these can tear open the skin and cause trauma, resulting in scars. Exfoliation is good, but use another method, such as the apple cider vinegar recipe above, a gentle toner, or glycolic acid to get rid of those excess dead skin cells.
- Ice the breakout. This works just like icing a sprained ankle. It reduces the inflammation and calls in the white blood cells, important aspects of your immune system that will help fight the infection causing the breakout and speed healing.
- Vitamin E can help speed the healing process and prevent scarring. Medical trials have found that taking the vitamin internally is more effective than applying it to skin, but anecdotal evidence has people clamoring at the success of slathering vitamin E oil on their skin. Take a vitamin E supplement, or eat a diet rich in the vitamin (almonds, mango, broccoli, spinach, and peanuts are good sources).
- Aloe vera is a natural wound healer, and can help with the inflammation and irritation of acne. There is little evidence that it will help with older acne scars, but it can help speed healing and prevent scarring when applied during the healing process.
- Natural Acne Solutions