Have you ever wondered whether acne scars are permanent?
Suffering from acne can be an incredibly frustrating condition, especially as you hit your teenage years and hormones begin to wreak havoc on your skin.
However, in some cases, acne can leave embarrassing marks on our skin in the form of acne scars – which begs the question, are acne scars permanent, and will they ever go away?
If you have been trying to understand this, our friendly experts are on hand today to help.
We’ll be looking at several key questions, including what acne scars are, why they develop, and how long they will last. Hopefully, this may help you find the solutions you need for your own acne scars as well.
Are Acne Scars Really Permanent?
Unfortunately, if you’ve been hoping acne scars aren’t actually permanent, the answer may not be what you want to hear. In most cases, acne scars are permanent marks on your skin, although they can change with time.
With this thought in mind, it’s worth considering that your acne scars may gradually change, but most acne scars will never heal without interventions. However, some types of acne scars will fade more successfully with time, so be patient – there may be hope for your acne scars yet.
How do You Know if Acne Scars are Permanent?
Generally speaking, most scars will become smoother with time and usually heal as much as possible in around two years. After this point, your scars will usually be permanent and look like small recesses in your skin. There are other types of acne scars, but we’ll cover this in a bit.
In short: if you don’t notice any further changes in your acne scars over the course of several months or longer, they’ve probably become permanent. But, if you have just one or two acne scars, there’s some good news here: they likely won’t be all that noticeable. However, if you have a large number of acne scars in a single area, they can become a little more obvious.
What Causes Acne Scars?
When we think about scars, we usually think of injuries caused by a severe amount of damage, such as an incredibly deep cut, a significant burn, or the like.
But understanding how this applies to acne scars can be a little more difficult since acne – by its nature – is usually characterized by lots of small, individual blemishes. How can these tiny spots cause such a significant scar?
Well, there are several scenarios in which acne scars can form. The most obvious of these occur when you pick, squeeze, pop, or accidentally scratch at your acne, which can cause it to burst and damage the skin around the area significantly. This can result in open wounds on your face, which may be much more prone to scarring.
However, you can still develop an acne scar even without damaging your skin. This usually occurs if the acne itself has become deep in your skin, causing a large cavity that’s filled with pus.
Once your acne has cleared, this will leave a small hole in your skin. Your body should naturally attempt to heal and restore this hole. However, this is one area where things can go awry, and mistakes during the healing process can also cause acne scars to develop.
The Common Types of Acne Scars
There are several common types of acne scars that you may have experienced. However, generally speaking, three of the most common are as follows:
Depressed acne scars: If your body does not produce enough collagen after a deep acne blemish has cleared, you may be left with a permanent mark on your face. However, the depressed scar should still be slightly
less severe than the original imflammation since the body should naturally attempt to fix the scar even if it doesn’t entirely.
Raised acne scars: In some cases, after the acne has cleared, your body can enter an “overdrive” mode to repair the wound – which can leave it overcompensating for the indent in your skin. In doing so, you can end up with a raised acne scar, which occurs when the body produces too much collagen and doesn’t stop repairing the wound in time.
Discoloration may also occur as a form of acne scar. In most cases, discolored skin due to acne will usually fade with time to the point that it becomes barely noticeable. However, some people may see reduced healing, which can leave their skin showing dual-levels of pigmentation. Fortunately, discolored acne scars may be easier to treat or cover up, if you’re feeling self-conscious as a result of your acne scars.
Of course, we should point out here that each of these different types of acne scars can also differ in severity. As such, while some people may experience very deep acne scars, others may only have a slight depression in their skin, and so on.
Which Acne Scars are Permanent?
Not all acne scars are permanent; they may heal or fade away with time. However, acne scars over two years old will usually be permanent; a raised acne scar will likely also be permanent and may even get worse with time.
Contrastingly, a depressed acne scar may be permanent if several years have passed and it has not yet fully healed. However, if you are only several months or a year into your healing, a depressed acne scar may continue to heal with time to “fill the gap” left by your acne.
This all comes down to personal healing and how your body responds to the acne scar. As such, there’s not really any way to predict which acne scars will become permanent until they visibly stop healing. However, if the wound is severe or deep, there is a much greater chance of a scar developing over time.
What Do Permanent Acne Scars Look Like?
Generally speaking, most permanent acne scars will look relatively minor. They are usually either raised or recessed areas of your skin; sometimes, permanent acne scars may show some discoloration. Unlike temporary scars, which may continue to fade over time, they are usually more prominent and noticeable, and they will not continue to fade gradually with time.
Do Acne Scars Get Worse with Age?
Many people assume that acne scars will worsen with age, but this depends on many factors. Mainly, though, this applies most prominently to either depressed or raised acne scars.
As you age, your body naturally begins to produce less dermal collagen. In turn, this can impact the overall elasticity of your skin, which may result in acne scars becoming more prominent. As you begin to develop fine lines and wrinkles, the reduced elasticity of your skin can make the scars “spread out,” thereby making them look more noticeable than before.
This concept is true both for depressed and raised acne scars, although their severity may become lesser. For example, a raised scar stretched due to lower collagen levels may appear marginally smoother than before.
However, it is worth remembering that not everyone will experience this; some people won’t experience as severe a loss of collagen during their later years.
Meanwhile, if your acne scars are located on fleshier regions of your face – such as your cheeks – the aging process may impact scars less significantly. By comparison, acne scars on your forehead, chin, and around the eyes could become noticeably worse with age.
Discoloration on your skin due to acne likely will not get worse with age. In fact, you may notice that your skin begins to darken slightly in patches as you get older. This could make the acne scars themselves less prominent.
How Common are Acne Scars?
At this point, we’ve outlined some of the main things you need to know about how acne scars form. However, this can leave us questioning why we don’t all seem to suffer from acne scars.
Now, it’s worth noting that the majority of people will suffer from acne during their life. In fact, the NHS suggests as many as 95% of people will suffer from acne at some point before the age of thirty.
With this thought in mind, the potential for people to develop acne scars is very high – but then, most people don’t seem to have acne scars. Why is this, considering that acne scars are typically a permanent feature on someone’s face?
Well, not everyone who has acne will necessarily get acne scars. In fact, research suggests that around one-third of people aged eighteen or over will have acne scars; these scars seem to affect confidence levels adversely.
However, it’s important to consider here that the remaining majority of people – around two-thirds – will not develop acne scars, even if they suffered from acne as a teenager or young adult.
Plus, it’s worth considering that not all acne scars will necessarily be visible. For example, some may be very small or located in an easily hidden area (such as behind the ear); other people may cover their acne scars with makeup, making them less visible.
How Can I Make Sure my Acne Doesn’t Scar?
If you are currently experiencing acne, don’t worry – you’re in a great position to ensure your current acne doesn’t scar! You could take a few simple steps in this regard, but it’s important to remember that no method is 100% effective. As such, you cannot guarantee without any doubt that your acne won’t scar – but the following methods may help.
Don’t Pick Your Acne
First, never pick at your acne or squeeze it, as this can substantially increase the risk of damaging your skin and causing a scar. Instead, try to prevent acne from developing with the necessary facial washes, and treat any existing acne with appropriate products.
Use Gentle Cleansers
Next, try not to use overly harsh or abrasive cleaning products, as these may further damage your skin. Many people assume that exfoliating products are helpful, for example – however, if used with too much force, they can injure your skin.
Apply SPF to Your Face Regularly
Always ensure you apply plenty of sun cream if you suffer from acne, too. A common cause of discolored acne scars is exposure to high levels of UV light from the sun; therefore, applying sun cream is a good way to reduce these from developing.
Implement Effective Wound Care Routines
Finally, general wound care is always a good idea to help prevent scarring. If you get scabs after the acne has gone away, do not pick at these, as they’re an important part of the healing process. Ensure you’re also following a healthy diet, and avoid infections getting into the acne scar by keeping the area clean, moist, and protected.
If the acne is around an area that’s often moving, such as the edges of your eyes, your forehead, or your mouth, trying to reduce your movement may also put less strain on the region, which can further reduce the chances of acne scars developing.
Use a Serum
Adding a serum to your skin care routine with the right ingredients can work magic on your acne scars. Look for serums with retinoids such as retinol, retinal, or tretinoin which speed up cell turnover to treat all acne scar symptoms.
Other effective ingredients include vitamin C, flavangenol, Fucoidan extract, ucoidan antioxidants, placenta extract, stem cell extract, raw soluble collagen, Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), ceramides, and niacinimide. Using 2-3 of these ingredients will effectively treat depressed, raised, and discolored acne scars.
Does Moisturizing Help Acne Scars?
While moisturizing alone may not necessarily help the healing process, it may be effective for preventing scars from being as prominent. Moisturizing your acne scars during the healing process can help nourish and plump up your skin, hopefully making it less likely to scar.
Moreover, some moisturizers also contain additional vitamins and minerals that may help promote the healing process, increasing the chances of your body successfully recovering from acne, scar-free. If you find a moisturizer with 2-3 of the ingredients we mentioned in the last section then it will effectively treat your acne scars.
Acne scars can be incredibly distressing, and this unsurprisingly leaves many people feeling low and distressed when they notice them. Indeed, since acne most commonly appears on our faces, acne scars are among the more visible scars out there – and even thick makeup can sometimes struggle to hide them.
As such, since acne scars are usually permanent, the best option is usually to try and prevent them from developing or worsening. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight is often important in this regard; furthermore, ensuring your skin is clean may help reduce the amount of acne you experience, lessening the number of new scars you experience accordingly.