Acne scarring SUCKS. Like, massively. You fight for clear skin for what feels like your entire life, and just when you think your acne has buggered off for good you're awarded some kind of cruel trophy to remind you of all the heartache - acne scarring. What fun!
Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where we talk about how to minimise acne scarring. Post continues below.
Obviously the best way to prevent acne scarring in the first place is by just not having any acne or pimples, but - yeah - it's not like we make the choice whether to have unblemished skin. It's nothing really to do with how you're looking after your skin, either - it's just a shit thing that can happen.
And like acne itself, it really knocks your confidence around.
There are ways to prevent and treat pimple scars, though. We spoke to dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald from Complete Skin Specialists Dermatology and asked her for all of the best ways to deal with these annoying marks.
What is acne scarring?
Before getting into specific treatment options, it's probably worth trying to understand what acne scarring is. Because apparently those red-purplish marks left behind are really just hyperpigmentation - which is separate from acne scarring.
Those marks don't exactly change the actual texture of the skin - so that's kind of in a category of its own.
According to McDonald, "Acne scars are permanent textural or colour changes and indentations that occur on the skin as a result of acne. This should be differentiated from the temporary red and brown marks seen earlier after acne, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, as these marks will almost always improve over time."
Good to know.
I have acne. Does that mean I'll probably get acne scarring?
Not necessarily. But there are a few things that might increase your chances of experiencing it.
Some people are more likely to experience acne scarring if they have inflammatory acne (the painful red bumps under your skin that make you feel like you're growing a twin on your face) and do not treat it (the longer you have it, the more likely you are to develop scars).
You're also more likely to experience scarring if you tend to pick, squeeze or pop your pimples on the reg. If you have other family members who developed acne scars, this will also up your chances of experiencing scarring. Genes play a big role in this (thanks, mum and dad).
Why is this happening to me? What's causing it?
So, why do we develop these marks in the first place?
"The basic process in acne is due to a blockage within the pore (mostly composed of skin cells and oil) followed by infection and inflammation around that pore," said McDonald.
Basically, the scar is a pore that has stretched and not returned to its original size.
"In some cases, large deep cysts are formed. The inflammation damages the surrounding layer of skin, the dermis, which heals with abnormal collagen and tethering in the skin leading to indentations and depressions," said McDonald.