One of the vastly seen skin disease in adolescents is acne. It affects about 80-90% adolescents attaining pubertal age. Some of this acne also continues into adulthood leaving some kind of psychological and social impact. Acne, also called as acne vulgaris is a chronic skin condition that results from dead skin cells and sebum from the sebaceous glands. Acne presents itself in the form of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and scarring.
Acne are common in body parts which consists of higher density of sebaceous glands – especially on the face, back and chest. Some of these inflammatory acne lesions can cause permanent scarring.
The causes of acne are many. Genetic make-up of a person is one of the factors that determines the susceptibility to developing acne. Other factors include :
- Acne are commonly seen in adolescents as sebum production from the sebaceous gland is at its peak during puberty due to a drastic shift in hormone levels and metabolism. During puberty, there is a surge in some hormone levels like androgen, which causes the sebaceous gland to enlarge and produce more sebum
- Acne are also usually seen is women attaining menses and women with hormonal imbalances like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); increased levels of male sex hormone – androgen
- Bacterial infections like Cutibacterium acnes can cause development of acne. Increased growth of this organism on the skin can cause acne and acne scarring
- Increased humidity and polluted air can cause acnes
- Diet also influences the occurrence of these acnes. Consumption of large amounts of dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, cottage cheese can lead to development of acne as these products increase mucous production in the body which acts as a trigger for clogging the pores. Also, a diet that is high in fat and refined sugars is a cause for acnes. Research has shown that diet containing milk and milk products stimulate the release of insulin and insulin like growth factor -1 (IGF-1), which further increase the production of androgen hormones, sebum and thereby, acne.
- Cosmetic products like a greasy moisturizer, other make-up and skin care products can cause the pores to clog and increase the occurrence of acnes
- Stress can also trigger acne breakouts. This could be due to increase in the levels of hormones which lead to excess sebum production and thus, acne
Acne scars occur due to inflammation inside the dermis layer of the skin and are known to affect almost all people with acne vulgaris. Atypical repair and skin inflammation lead to scar formation. Scarring is more common with severe forms of acne but it is not uncommon with other milder forms of acne as well. Scars occur when the acne breakout infiltrate the skin deeply and damage the underlying skin tissue. Acne scars are treatable but the treatment is long term.
To get rid of acne scars, it is important to clear all the acne as newer breakouts can cause newer acne scars. Once the acne is cleared the skin produces collagen to correct the damage caused by the scars. Since the face is constantly being exposed to the environmental pollutants, scars on the face are most stubborn to treatment.
Treatment for acne scarring
Different treatment options are available for acne scars. The conventional treatments include compounds like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs), Salicylic acids, Azelaic acid, Lactic acid, topical creams containing retinoids, other invasive procedures like dermabrasion, needling, chemical peels and laser resurfacing. These require board certified dermatologists to carry out the procedures and have their own pros and cons.
Many alternative and home remedies are available that have also shown to be effective in treating acne scars. These have minimum side effects, are inexpensive and heal the skin tissue in a natural way. They include the following :
- Black Seed Oil : This oil is native to Eastern Europe and Middle East. It is the oil made out of a medicinal plant that has antibacterial and anti-viral functions. Black seed oil is known to be anti-inflammatory, which helps in reducing inflammation caused by acne. Additionally, it fastens the wound healing process and reduces pigmentation caused by scars
- Aloe Vera : Aloe vera is an age-old plant based remedy for many skin conditions. The leaves of the plant contain a gel like substance that can be used directly to apply on the affected areas on the skin. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, which helps in the reduction of acne and acne scars. It helps in healing the acne and improves skin texture
- Honey : Honey has been one of the ancient go-to for many conditions like burns and wounds. It has multiple medicinal properties – especially improving the healing process and reducing scarring caused by acne. Honey also has some antibacterial properties which help in fighting infections and thus reduce acne breakouts. Honey can be combined with cinnamon to make a honey and cinnamon mask and used on acne-prone skin as an effective home remedy
- Vitamin E Oil : Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and helps in skin repair and healing. It is seen that applying few drops of Vitamin E oil on the scarred spots, help in repairing the skin tissue and enhance healing
- Baking soda : This helps in reducing scars by balancing the skin pH and acts as a natural exfoliator. By doing this, it clears the skin debris and improves the damaged skin cause by acne. A paste or a mask can be made using baking soda and water for using it on the affected areas
- Witch Hazel : Witch Hazel which has excellent astringent properties, is an ingredient of many skincare products like skin cleansers and skin toners. It causes the pore size to reduce and decreases inflammation, thereby reducing acne scars
- Green tea : green tea is rich in antioxidants and some studies have shown benefit on application of green tea for acne and acne scarring. It exerts its function due to the flavonoids and tannins which have anti-bacterial function and anti-inflammatory, thus reducing acne breakouts. These active components have also showed benefits in reducing the sebum production and restrict the growth of P.acnes. The leaves can be mixed with honey to make a face mask or applied directly on the skin like a cleansing toner
- Rosehip Seed Oil : This oil has been largely used as an anti-aging remedy. Additionally there are studies to show that rosehip seed oil is also useful in reducing acne scars and reducing pigmentation caused by scars
- Lemon juice : This is another routine skin care remedy used widely for treating acne scars. It helps in eliminating scars by reducing skin discolouration and smoothens the skin texture and skin tone
- Turmeric : The humble spice, found in every household and kitchen is excellent for treating acne scars. Turmeric has natural antiseptic function, which is why it is an excellent remedy for acne and any resulting scars. The anti-inflammatory quality can act on pores and soothe the skin. A recent study showed that curcumin combined with lauric acid found in coconut oil is an effective way to combat acne causing bacteria. It is good for oily skin because it helps to regulate the production of sebum – an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands
- Tea tree oil : Tea tree oil has gained a lot of popularity in recent times, for its acne fighting properties. Research has shown that 5% tea tree oil solution helps in reducing the amount and overall severity of acne. The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil can reduce oiliness on the skin which can lead to reduction in acne breakouts. The antimicrobial function of the oil is due to its capacity to damage the cell wall structure of bacteria. Tea tree oil is one of the most natural remedy that is very effective in acne control and acne scarring
- Oatmeal : Not only is oatmeal a healthy breakfast alternative, it is also one of the best home remedies for acne scars. The natural antioxidant in oatmeal reduces inflammation stimulating compounds that cause itching, dry skin and dead skin. It can be mixed with milk and applied as a mask to treat acne scars naturally
- Apple Cider Vinegar : This, like other vinegars has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has shown to contain many organic acids that have been effective in treating infection caused by P. acnes, common skin bacteria known to cause acnes. It helps in reducing inflammation and prevent scarring. It can be an effective home remedy for treating acne scars. Because of its acidic nature and astringent properties, it can cause burning sensation on the skin. Hence it has to be diluted with some proportion of water before using
- Diet and Lifestyle : One of the ways to treat acnes naturally is by restricting dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar laden foods and processed foods as these foods are pro-inflammatory in nature. Switching to a plant-based, vegan diet that includes consumption of raw foods like fruits and vegetables, consuming foods with Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and antioxidants; maintaining good hydration and regular exercise play a key role to combat acnes. Exercise causes reduction in stress levels and improves blood circulation in the body. It also causes some sweating, that helps to eliminate toxins and clogged pores on the skin. Remedies to reduce stress levels like meditation and adequate sleep are also beneficial for healing
Acne Scars Pictures
Although conventional treatment options are available to treat acne scars, natural remedies have also proven to be beneficial to a great extent in reducing acne scarring. They are comparatively inexpensive, have fewer side effects, chemical free and completely natural in treating acne scars.