Preventing and reducing acne scars

Treating acne promptly to avoid scarring

All acne types, especially the more severe ones, benefit from prompt and correct treatment in order to reduce the risk of scarring. See your family physician as soon as possible, because some treatments can only be prescribed by a dermatologist, and a doctor's referral is required to get an appointment. Your doctor can prescribe a first line of treatment while you wait to see the specialist.

In addition to pharmaceutical treatments, skin care plays an important role in preventing scars. It is essential not to irritate the skin further, which could promote scarring.

It's important not to pick at or squeeze pimples to get the pus out. Washing your skin too often (more than twice a day) and using exfoliating scrubs can also irritate the skin. It is best to wash and moisturize the skin with products designed specifically for acne.

Reducing the appearance of scars

The most common type of acne scars are the "pockmark" type. During scarring, the body doesn't produce enough collagen to completely fill the hole, which leaves a depression in the skin.

This type of scarring can be treated in various ways. The choice of treatment depends on the size and depth of the scars, the skin surface to be treated, as well as the skin colour.

It's important to have realistic expectations. Today's treatments can take a few months and typically produce a 40 to 50 percent improvement.

  • Surgical treatment: The scar is replaced with a smaller, thinner scar that will fade away better over time.
  • Laser resurfacing: A laser heats the skin to stimulate the formation of new collagen.
  • Filling agents: An agent is injected below the scar to raise the skin and reduce the depth of the hole. This is a temporary solution, since the filling agent only remains in the skin for 6 to 12 months.
  • Chemical peeling: A chemical is applied to the skin to eliminate the outer layer. The new skin layer that forms to replace it is smoother and more even. A peeling is usually used as a complement to another treatment.

Acne can also cause other types of scars that require different treatments.

For more information on acne and how to treat it, visit the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada website.

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