Have you tried multiple acne scar creams only to be disappointed by their lack of results? You’re not alone. Acne scars can be hard to treat, and the truth is that not all acne scar creams will work for each person’s acne condition.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why acne scar creams may not work for you and what alternative treatment options you can seek to remove them.
Types of Acne Scars
Acne scar creams primarily target superficial scars and discolouration, making them more suitable for certain types of scars than others. Before we delve further into the limitations of acne scar treatment creams, we must understand how acne scars form and what causes them to manifest differently.
Acne scars happen when acne lesions do not heal properly. The normal skin healing process involves a coordinated process of inflammation, collagen formation and remodelling. Acne may disrupt this normal process, resulting in improper healing which results in various types of scar formation.
Image by Skin Online
1. Ice Pick Scars
These deep, narrow scars resemble minor puncture marks on the skin. They can be challenging to treat because they extend deep into the dermis.
2. Boxcar Scars
Boxcar scars are characterised by well-defined edges and box-like shapes.. They are usually wider than ice-pick scars and have a depressed appearance.
3. Rolling Scars
These scars create a wave-like or rolling appearance on the skin. They occur due to fibrous bands that pull the skin downward, causing the surface to look uneven.
4. Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars
These scars are raised instead of depressed. They can vary in size, from small bumps to large nodules, which can be disfiguring. Keloids and hypertrophic scars arise from excessive and abnormal collagen formation during the healing process.
5. Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation appears as flat, darkened spots on the skin due to excessive melanin production. Unlike other types of acne scars, PIH does not change the skin’s texture after it heals. This scar can last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Why Acne Scar Creams May Not Be Working for You
Acne scar creams work better on post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) than ice pick, boxcar, and rolling scars. Here are the reasons why.
1. Mechanism of Action
Acne scar creams typically contain ingredients that help lighten and even out skin tone by reducing excess melanin production or accelerating the skin’s natural exfoliation process. These ingredients, such as retinoids, vitamin C, or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), inhibit melanin synthesis or promote cell turnover, fading dark spots associated with PIH.
2. Textural Changes in Scars
Ice pick, boxcar, and rolling scars are characterised by changes in skin texture and structure, such as depressions, indentations and raised areas.
Acne scar creams, however, address pigmentation concerns and cannot alter the structural properties of scars. These creams may not be able to fill or level out the depressions or indentations seen in ice pick, boxcar and rolling scars.
3. Depth and Severity of Scarring
Ice pick, boxcar, and rolling scars are usually more severe than PIH. They often extend into the deeper layers of the skin, requiring more intensive treatments to improve their appearance.
With topical application and relatively low concentrations of active ingredients, acne scar creams may not penetrate deeply enough to improve these types of acne scars significantly.
What Other Acne Scar Treatment Options Do I Have?
Ice pick, boxcar, and rolling scars often require more specialised and invasive treatments. These treatments physically remodel or resurface the scarred tissue to improve its appearance. Acne scar creams, on the other hand, cannot produce the same level of structural changes as these procedures.
1. Chemical Peels
Superficial to medium-depth chemical peels can effectively reduce the appearance of boxcar scars by exfoliating the outer layers of the skin and promoting cell turnover. Another type of peel, called the TCA Cross, involves applying trichloroacetic acid to the base of the scar to stimulate collagen production and encourage skin remodelling. TCA Cross is ideal for ice-pick scars.
2. Laser Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing treatments, such as fractional laser, can effectively target and remove acne scars. This procedure uses laser technology to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin. The injuries stimulate collagen production and encourage new, smoother skin to replace the scarred tissue. This type of treatment is suitable for boxcar scars.
Subcision is often used for rolling scars. It involves using a special needle to break the fibrous bands that tether the rolling scar to the underlying tissue. By releasing these bands, the skin’s surface becomes more even.
4. Dermal Fillers
Injectable fillers like hyaluronic acid or collagen can be used to elevate the base of a scar, providing immediate improvement in the appearance of the skin. Due to the temporary nature of fillers, using this method for acne scar removal Singapore may require ongoing maintenance treatments. Dermal fillers are effective for ice-pick scars and rolling scars.
5. Intralesional Steroid Injections
Steroids may be injected into keloids and hypertrophic scars to soften and flatten them. Multiple sessions are often required.
|Type of Scar||Treatment|
|Ice-pick Scars||Chemical peels e.g TCA Cross, Dermal Fillers|
|Boxcar scars||Laser Resurfacing|
|Rolling Scars||Subcision, Dermal Fillers|
Need Acne Scar Treatment in Singapore?
While acne scar creams can benefit PIH, they may not be effective for all acne scars. To address your acne scar, you must understand your scar type and know which treatment works best for it.
Our doctors at SL Aesthetic Clinic help people find the right solution for their acne problems. We have years of experience and have treated clients with various skin types and health needs. Book a consultation with us today.