Acne and Acne Scarring

Having acne is part and parcel of growing up. It exacerbates during the teenage phase and then usually subsides later on in most people. However, there are many people who suffer from adult acne as well. Now acne is only one part of the tale. What follows is, even more, worse- acne scars and scarring. Acne scarring is probably that which will haunt us longer than the actual acne. The acne itself might naturally subside within a week or so. But, the acne scars might take anywhere between 3 weeks-3 months to completely fade away depending on the severity of the scar or how much damage has been caused to the underlying tissue. The treatment for severe acne scarring is usually laser treatment or chemical peels.

The more you mess with your acne, the longer your acne scar is bound to mess with you. It will always be a temptation to squeeze a “pustule”-like acne especially to get rid of that large, inflamed pus-filled acne immediately. But remember that, doing so will result in a post-breakout scar. It is always best advised to let it heal itself or apply for medicines as per the advice of a good dermatologist. Again, applying too much of medicines/ointments/creams on the acne will excessively dry out the skin leading to skin irritation, skin peeling, redness and could lead to even more breakouts.

What is Acne?

Acne is nothing but clogged hair follicles that become plugged with excess sebum or dead skin cells. This clogged follicle becomes that perfect breeding ground for pimple-causing bacteria to grow to cause acne. They, later on, become bumpy and pus-filled. Acne is caused by a variety of factors – hormonal, genetic, dietary, psychological(stress related) or even health-related (as in the case of women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Sydrome). Unless you have got the most severe type of acne, most of the acne heals by itself in the due course of time. Most cases of acne scarring are only temporary.

Acne Scars

There are different types of acne and hence different types of acne scars. However, unless you have severe acne due to some underlying health condition, then the severity of the remnant scar really depends on how you have tampered with the acne- trying to pop it. Some people use their nails to pop a pimple and some use some form of piercing equipment to pop it out. Depending on your skin tone, type and it’s ability to heal, scars can be anything from red/brown/black spots to enlarged pores or deep scars due to permanent damage to the tissue and surrounding regions.

Where can you get Acne Scars?

You can get acne scars wherever you are susceptible to getting acne. It could be your T-ZONE(Forehead, Nose, and Chin), your cheeks, your chest, your back etc. The more you prick it or touch it too often or scratch it or try to remove the deep embedded white/black head- the longer your scar is going to last. If it really requires you to puncture your skin very deep in order to remove the pus, white/black head- remember that you might be left with a persistent scar.

The vicious cycle of Acne and Acne Scarring

Getting acne is very normal unless you have been blessed with Godsend clear skin thanks to great genes. But when does it become a real pesky problem? You get a pimple, it stays for a while and though a pimple disappears- the scars remain. And by the time the scar heals, the next pimple pops out. This cycle continues till you reach adulthood. So in the case of many teenagers, they not only have to worry about their acne but also have to try desperate means to hide their pre-existing acne scars.

How to reduce Acne Scarring

If you think that you suffer from a severe case of acne, do consult with a dermatologist or a physician to uncover some underlying cause that is exacerbating the acne. The doctor might ask you to run some tests or change your diet and put you on external as well as oral medicines as necessary.

If you are someone who suffers from mild to moderate acne, then it is best not to tamper with your skin too much. Use a mild face wash once or twice a day depending on how oily your skin is and understanding those parts which get oily too often, like the T-Zone. Then apply a non-oily moisturizer and leave it as such. If you decide to see a dermatologist, make sure that you use the medicines as per his/her advice. In an effort to reduce the swelling or number of acne in a short span of time, desperate people resort to desperate methods. Beauty parlors and skin treatment centers might also coerce you to allow them to puncture that bulging acne. While it is sometimes alright to do so, ensure that only a qualified individual is allowed to puncture the skin using sterilized equipment. An astringent or any mild antibacterial lotion has to be applied afterward to seal the wound.

A message to teenagers about Acne Scarring

The best way to reduce acne scarring is to teach yourself the virtue of patience. Drink plenty of water, eat a nutritious diet (less oily), try to keep stress at bay, get proper sleep and exercise, keep your skin clean and moisturized and most importantly- relax. Stop worrying about acne. Don’t keep touching it.  The more you worry, the more are the chances of you squeezing it out due to anxiety. Allow the skin to repair itself. Most people won’t even notice your acne or scars. There might be a few who might notice or even comment about it, but they are not going to keep thinking about it always. They will forget about it.

Most people are obsessed about themselves and hardly have any time to think of the spots on someone else’s face. Scars will fade and mean words will be forgotten after a while. You will just have to force yourself to get through that period. Things will change and so will people. You will have to keep telling yourself that tomorrow will be better and that those scars are not what define you. If someone really likes you, that person is going to care less if you have/don’t have scars. Teenage is going to be tough. Help yourself by not over- thinking the situation or by hiding yourself or those marks on your skin. Socially secluding yourself won’t help. It will only make things even more awkward. Don’t let the fear of acne or acne scars strain your relationships especially with parents and friends.

Every teenager’s Acne story

There are a lot of things that one has to cope with during the teenage years and acne is just one of them. Same was the story of Sarah. Seventh grade was turning out to be much more difficult than what she had envisioned. As soon as she hit fourteen, her clear baby skin had turned bumpy and patchy. Let’s not even start with the scars that pimples leave behind. Now add peer pressure and low grades to this equation! Sarah was mocked and ridiculed, day in and day out. “Did a dog bite your face?”, ” Is this thing contagious?”, her friends teased. She was not the cute, happy-go-lucky girl anymore. She was the girl with a severe acne problem. Everywhere she went and everyone she saw, asked her about her acne. That was the first thing that they noticed. This was her new identity. Acne scarring has taken over her life!

 The media’s obsession with gorgeous and flawless models took a toll on her and made feel even more insecure. Self-doubt and low self-esteem began to creep into her head. Sarah refused to come out of her room. The more she worried about her acne, the worse it became. She started popping her acne and peeling the flaky skin. Some of the acne gave way to brownish-blackish patches on her face. She stopped communicating with her parents and friends. Little did they know, the acne had started to affect more than her skin. Her parents did not know how to handle the situation. They thought that this was just another phase that she would outgrow. Soon Sarah began finding comfort in chatting with anonymous online friends who wouldn’t judge her by the way she looked. Now that is an entirely different story altogether.

How does Acne scar the lives of young people?

The hormonal roller-coaster during the adolescent and teenage phase is definitely one rough ride. Sometimes, puberty just isn’t kind enough. With the eruption of intense acne, teenagers tend to feel intimidated and start withdrawing from social activities. In an attempt to get away from the situation, your teenager may develop an introvert nature. If you think about it, most of the teenagers have an active post-school routine, which includes tons of socializing with neighbors and friends. So the sudden onset of acne may cripple your teenager’s confidence in meeting old friends and new people who tend to be judgmental. Unfortunately, depression is a close companion of acne.

The current generation is always under the constant pressure to look flawless due to the heavy influence of media, celebrities and fashion industry where anything less than perfection is simply not acceptable. Social Media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are places where one flaunts his/her perfect selves. Think “no makeup selfie”, “morning selfie”(woke up like this) etc. There’s not much we can do about that though, but we can always work towards identifying the core problem.

How Can You Help Your Child Overcome The Scarring Effects Of Acne?

  1. It is pre-requisite to understand the need to talk to your child. Communication is the saviour here. Always! Besides, it is of utmost importance to observe your child. Observe the daily changes in him/her. If you think that your child’s acne is getting worse take him/her to a Skin Specialist before matters grow out of hand. If you think that your child’s acne will get better with time, it is very important to tell your child not to pop a pimple and bruise the skin. Most acne will get better with time. Washing the face too many times with face wash(a facial cleanser), applying too many ointments, home remedies, cream or even wearing heavy makeup can wreak havoc by messing with your skin’s natural oil balance.
  2. Teach them to embrace imperfection(perhaps the most important lesson in life). No human is perfect and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in it. That is where the beauty lies. Every person has some flaw and that there is no one definition of beauty. It is all about perspective.
  3. Each person is beautiful in her/his way. Help your child embrace the change with positivity. Channel the energy by focusing on the things he/she loves about themselves, rather than the flaws. This will help them retain the confidence and build self-esteem.
  4. Let your child realize it is not as bad as they perceive it to be. Acne is temporary, it comes and goes. To give a number, it resolves within a few weeks to the most. It certainly will not stick with them forever!
  5. Making acne a focal point of their life makes it even worse. It starts to affect their mental status, sleep cycle and diet, eventually making your teenager’s skin even more prone to acne.
  6. Don’t let the acne control your child’s life. As difficult it may sound, caving in will never bring out the best in oneself. Encourage him/her to be patient with the results. Desperately applying various products and staring at the mirror disheartened to get immediate results is very unrealistic. Patience is a virtue in life. Literally!
  7. Motivate your child to surround (him)herself with people who appreciate and respect him/her. Who needs such negativity around them, anyway? Help your child inculcate the habit of ignoring the unworthy comments and standing up against bullies through positive teachings.
  8. Lastly, tell your child you love her/him immensely regardless of their appearance or grades. Appreciate your child and let your child know that he/she is loved. Tell them how you overcame your acne problem(make one up if you didn’t have acne!). Because in the end, whether your child voices it or not, your opinion as the parent always matters the most.
  9. Sometimes kids might resort to make-up to cover up their acne or acne scars. This is perfectly OK if they don’t obsess about it. If your child needs your help with make-up, help him/her to conceal the acne scars. Even when you do so, tell them that they look fine either way.
  10. If your child has indeed had an acne problem, make sure you acknowledge it appropriately. Don’t ignore it and don’t make your child over-anxious about it. If you see the need to take your child to a dermatologist, do it.

 Acne scarring is something that can permanently scar your child’s confidence. Make sure that the issue is tackled at the roots.

READ MORE: Teenagers inflicting self harm or self injury