I’ve got some tough skin-care knowledge to lay down for you: Every time you get a pimple, there’s a six percent chance that it’s going to leave behind a scar. And as any dermatologist will tell you—and you may have learned this the hard way on your own over the years—that number goes up if you pop it or pick at it. Woof. Though they may be (frustratingly) common, all acne scars are not created equally, and neither are the ways you’re meant to treat them.
There are five different types of scars your pimples can leave behind: keloids, which are raised and reddish; hypertrophic scars, which are slightly smaller than keloids and mostly happen on your chest and back; ice pick scars, which look like deep, pitted holes; rolling scars, which are slightly shallower and smoother than their ice pick cousins; and boxcar scars, which look like fingernail indentations.
In the latest episode of Dear Derm, board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, gives us the 411 on how to treat scarring from acne. But in order to understand what to do about a scar, it’s important to first understand why they happen in the first place. “When a pimple forms, collagen is damaged, and when that collagen starts to heal in a wonky way, it leads to scarring,” says Dr. Gohara. “When you get any sort of a wound, including a self-inflicted one from a pimple you had to pop, your skin cells and connective tissues start to multiply to try and repair that damage, and your scar is made up of that tissue.”
If you’ve got discoloration (otherwise known as hyperpigmentation) after a breakout, it tends to be fairly easy to treat with ingredients like vitamin C and glycolic acid. When we talk about “scarring” though, we’re really referring to textural changes, which can be slightly harder to get rid of—and may require a trip to the dermatologist's office. For advice on exactly how to treat scarring from acne, now matter which of the five types you're dealing with, watch the video above. And one more time for the people in the back: Please, don't pick your pimples.
These are the exact products Dr. Gohara uses to keep her own skin clear, and the one ingredient she likes to think of as the “little black dress” of her skin-care collection.
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