Has your acne breakout left you with deep scars? Are popular remedies unable to give you desired results? Acne scars can become a permanent problem if not treated on time.
Acne scars indicate skin damage deep within the dermis. To reduce such scars, Ayurveda recommends ancient herbal remedies that stimulate cell renewal, inhibit melanogenesis and holistically boost your skin’s immunity.
Scroll down to know how acne scars can be prevented and the best herbal and home remedies to remove them.
- What Are Acne Scars?
- What Do Acne Scars Look Like?
- What Causes Acne Scars?
- Types Of Acne Scars
- Who Gets Acne Scars?
- Can Acne Scars Be Removed?
- How To Remove Acne Scars?
- How To Prevent Acne Scars?
- How Long Does It Take For Acne Scars To Fade?
- When Should You See A Dermatologist For Acne Scars?
- What Is The Difference Between Acne Marks & Acne Scars?
What Are Acne Scars?
Acne scars are the marks left behind on your skin once your acne condition heals. Scarring from acne is quite common and occurs in almost 80% of those who suffer from acne. Acne scars may have the appearance of brown or red spots on your skin or look like raised lumps or little depressions. Prolonged acne conditions are often responsible for the formation of scars. Thus it is advisable to get your acne treated as early as possible to avoid scarring.
According to Ayurveda, discolouration and disfiguration of the skin are often caused by a dosha imbalance leading to the accumulation of harmful ama toxins. The ancient texts mention a detailed three-step treatment to treat the condition of acne scars or ‘Vrana Vastu’. This consists of skin purification to recover the skin’s natural colour, tissue development and remodelling and bringing back hair follicles to return the skin to its original state.
What Do Acne Scars Look Like?
Acne scars vary in appearance. While some appear as waves across the surface of the skin others look like deep, narrow depressions.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Acne lesions occur when a follicle gets blocked with excess sebum, dirt and dead cells. When bacteria living on your skin gets trapped in these clogged pores, it causes inflamed acne (pustules, papules, nodules).
With the detection of a bacterial infection, your immune system sends white blood cells to fight the infection. Enzymes from the WBCs may weaken and rupture the follicle wall causing tissue damage and a spread of the infection to the surrounding areas. It is during the wound healing process that acne scars may be formed.
Wound healing is a complex procedure and may stimulate melanocytes in the area causing hyperpigmented acne scars. The other two types of scars that may occur during new tissue formation are raised (hypertrophic scars) and depressed scars (atrophic scars).
Types Of Acne Scars
An acne breakout may result in the formation of various types of scars that can either change the colour of the affected area or bring about a change in your skin’s texture.
1. Hyperpigmentation Acne Marks
Hyperpigmentation acne marks are the brown or black spots that are left behind when your acne heals. During the first stage of wound healing which involves inflammation, the local melanocytes or melanin-producing cells may get activated causing hyperpigmentation.
2. Post Inflammatory Erythema
Post-inflammatory erythema or PIE occurs when capillaries under your skin are damaged due to inflammation during an acne condition. PIE is characterized by reddish or pinkish spots on the skin. PIE is most likely to occur after a condition of cystic acne.
3. Hypertrophic Scars
The second stage of wound healing involves the repair of skin tissues damaged during acne. There is a production of new collagen by fibroblasts and the formation of new capillaries under the skin. However, excess production of collagen in certain areas may lead to hypertrophic scars. These have the appearance of skin that is raised to form lumps. Hypertrophic scars  often heal on their own but may be resistant to treatment.
4. Atrophic Scars
Atrophic scars  are formed when there is a loss of collagen during tissue healing. These are more common than hypertrophic scars. Also known as depressed scars due to their appearance, atrophic scars are classified into 3 sub-types.
A. Ice Pick Scars
Ice pick scars  are one of the most severe and persistent types of atrophic scars. They occur when there is low production of collagen during the healing process after an acne breakout. Ice pick scars are narrow and deep and have the appearance of little pits on your skin. They may not have the same shape as the acne lesion, since scarring is dependent on how your skin heals.
These scars are often the result of a severe acne condition such as nodular or cystic acne. Here inflammation occurs deep into your skin causing more damage to your skin tissues. Thinner areas of your skin such as your cheeks and forehead are more prone to ice pick scars. Though difficult to treat at home, you might achieve better results with professional treatment.
B. Rolling Scars
Rolling scars are wider than 4 to 5 mm. As the name suggests, these scars have sloping edges giving your skin a wavy, undulated appearance. Rolling scars often indicate dermal tethering.
This means, during the tissue healing process, lack of collagen production leads the dermal area to connect to the subcutaneous layer creating a pit or indent on your skin. Rolling scars are more common in areas where your skin is thick such as the jaws and cheeks.
C. Boxcar Scars
Boxcars have wide bases and well-defined edges and usually occur in places where your skin is thick.
Vedix Tip: To remove acne scars, add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to a bowl of water and wash your face twice a day.
Who Gets Acne Scars?
Scarring after an acne breakout often depends on risk factors  that are mentioned below:
1. Inflammatory Acne Conditions
Depth, severity and duration of the inflammation determine the formation of acne scars. Severe acne lesions such as cystic and nodular acne are more prone to scarring as they cause tissue damage on a deeper level.
2. Delay In Treatment
Quick acne treatment can prevent prolonged inflammation which is usually responsible for acne scars.
3. Genetic Influence
A family history of scarring can increase your risk of developing acne scars.
4. Popping Acne Lesions
Squeezing or popping acne lesions can aggravate the condition by easily rupturing the follicle wall. This leads to the spread of infection to surrounding areas and an increase in inflammation. More the inflammation, the greater is the chance of developing acne scars.
Smoker’s skin is more likely to be affected by acne scars. The toxic substances in tobacco smoke decrease your skin’s ability to heal and produce collagen.
6. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal changes in your body, especially during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, can lead to severe inflammatory acne conditions. Such acne may leave behind deep scars.
Unlike popular belief, acne scars do not only occur on your face. Scarring can happen in any part of your body with sebaceous glands, such as the back, neck, and chest.
Can Acne Scars Be Removed?
With proper treatment, minor acne scars can be removed and severe scars can be lightened. For mild cases of acne, scars and marks may clear off on their own within a short period. However, deep atrophic scars may require prolonged treatment.
How To Remove Acne Scars?
A. Ayurvedic Treatment For Acne Scars
In the natural science of Ayurveda, acne scar treatments mainly focus on using herbs to boost collagen production, aid wound healing, lighten marks and exfoliate damaged skin.
1. Ayurvedic Ubtan (Exfoliation)
Ubtan is an Ayurvedic massage therapy done with herbal powders and oils. The massage is performed with upward strokes and improves the subcutaneous blood circulation, exfoliates damaged skin and removes ama toxins from the body. Ubtan is especially effective for removing raised hypertrophic acne scars.
How To Use
Grind gram flour, neem leaves and turmeric to form a coarse powder. Add coconut oil or ghee to form a coarse paste and exfoliate the affected areas. Wash off with lukewarm water.
2. Licorice, Red Sandalwood, Milk & Saffron To Lighten Acne Scars
Licorice, red sandalwood and saffron are magical herbs that contain natural depigmenting  compounds such as glabridin and santalin. These are known tyrosinase (an enzyme that aids the production of melanin) inhibitors that can gradually remove acne scars with regular use. Lactic acid in milk removes dead cells, clears acne scars and improves the overall appearance of your skin.
How To Use
Soak saffron in milk for over an hour. Add licorice and red sandalwood powder to form a paste. Apply on your skin to get rid of stubborn acne scars. Wash off after 20 minutes.
3. Hibiscus, Gotu Kola, Amla & Ashwagandha For Collagen Production
A lepa made by combining these skin-renewing herbs is a powerful ayurvedic medicine for acne scars. Hibiscus, gotu kola, amla and ashwagandha are all known to boost the production of collagen. Regular application with honey or ghee can gradually aid in the removal of persistent atrophic scars.
How To Use
Grind all 4 ingredients and add honey or ghee to form a paste. Apply this on your acne scars daily and wash off with lukewarm water after 30 minutes.
4. Turmeric, Basil, Triphala & Honey For Acne Scar Healing
This amazing amalgamation of herbs aids your skin’s natural healing process to remove fresh acne scabs and scars. Turmeric, basil, triphala  and honey are anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and are rich in antioxidants that help in wound healing.
How To Use
Blend all ingredients together. Add honey and apply to the affected areas. Wash off after 30 minutes to remove acne scars.
B. Home Remedies For Acne Scars
1. Colloidal Oatmeal & Orange Peel Exfoliation
The anti-inflammatory, skin soothing, antibacterial qualities of colloidal oatmeal along with skin lightening properties of orange peel make for great scrub to remove acne scars.
How To Use
Make a coarse paste with colloidal oatmeal, orange peel powder and milk or lukewarm water. Gently exfoliate the affected areas and wash off to fade face and back acne scars.
2. Burdock & Wild Yam For Tissue Repair
Burdock root extracts and wild yam are widely used in the Korean skincare routine for their exceptional abilities to boost collagen production and repair atrophic acne scars.
How To Use
Burdock root extracts are available in powder or oil forms. Add it to a paste of wild yam and apply on the affected skin. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes to cure acne scars.
3. Onion Extract & Aloe Vera For Acne Scar Removal
Allium cepa or onion extract and aloe vera are popular ingredients in various skin-lightening products. Due to the presence of quercetin and aloin which are natural tyrosinase inhibitors, onion extract and aloe vera can heal acne scars and acne-induced hyperpigmentation.
How To Use
Blend a full onion and add fresh aloe vera gel to it. Apply this home remedy twice daily to get rid of acne scars and marks.
4. Papaya & Pineapple For Skin Lightening
The natural enzymes in both papaya and pineapple are highly effective in removing acne scars. They also aid in skin cell renewal thus giving your skin an even tone and appearance.
How To Use
Blend both the ingredients together. Do not throw away the stem of the pineapple which is rich in bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme in pineapple. Apply regularly to remove acne scars from the face.
C. Essential Oils For Acne Scars
The ancient texts of Ayurveda stress the importance of Abhyanga therapy (herbal massage) for healing scars and skin discolouration. Regular massage improves blood circulation, removes damaged skin and boosts cell renewal. Abhyanga also balances your doshas and removes harmful ama toxins that hinder wound healing leading to scars.
Massage the below mentioned essential oils on the areas affected by acne scars for quick healing. Use twice daily with any carrier oil of your choice (coconut, almond, jojoba, castor, sesame).
Reduces inflammation, fades acne scars and hyperpigmentation, skin brightening properties.
Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, encourages wound healing.
Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, may help heal damaged skin.
May help reduce acne scars, aid skin healing, Has anti-ageing benefits.
Boosts new tissue growth, heals wounds and soothes irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties. Tea tree oil may lighten acne scars.
D. Medical Treatments
Medical treatments for acne scars aim to achieve two main goals. They help to reduce the depth of the acne scar and also fade its appearance. To get rid of deep acne scars, two separate procedures may be used to return your skin to its natural state.
1. Punch Elevation
Punch elevation  is used to reduce the depth of atrophic acne scars. In this treatment, the centre of the scar is cut and reattached at a higher level to give the scar a more flat appearance.
2. Punch Grafting
In punch grafting, the scar is completely removed and skin taken from another part is grafted in the site of the scar to fill up the wound.
Microneedling is used to heal atrophic scars. In this treatment, fine needles are used to prick the scar site. The small injuries from the needles stimulate your skin’s natural wound healing process. New collagen is produced which heals your acne scar and gives your skin a more even appearance. Derma roller is a device that uses the technique of microneedling. You can even use a derma roller at home for your acne scars.
The technique of dermabrasion uses a special instrument to exfoliate the upper damaged layer of skin. It is more effective for removing acne-induced hyperpigmentation and minor acne scars.
5. Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers such as Bellafill are injected to treat your acne scars. These substances when injected at the site of your scar, push your skin up to its natural level.
6. Chemical Peels
For minor acne scars and hyperpigmentation, chemical peels may be recommended. Here glycolic or salicylic acid is used to exfoliate the upper damaged layer of the skin.
7. PRP Treatment
PRP or Platelet-Rich-Plasma therapy has been gaining popularity in recent years for its effective treatment of acne scars. In this procedure, blood taken from the patient is put in a centrifuge to separate RBCs and PRP serum. This PRP serum is then injected into the site of the scars to boost the natural production of collagen.
8. Laser Therapy
Here, light or heat is used to stimulate new collagen formation in the inner layers. Some laser therapies may also remove the outer layer of your skin. There are various different types of laser therapies available to treat acne scars such as Ablative, Non-ablative, CO2 Laser. Consult your doctor to know which best suits your condition.
How To Prevent Acne Scars?
What Does Our Ayurvedic Doctor Say?
“Skin is the largest organ and also adds beauty to our body. Minute changes in the skin lead to both emotional and physical disturbances. One can protect their skin by maintaining wellness with a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Mamtha Tandle, Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Preventing acne and treating it on time go a long way in preventing acne scars. A few aspects to keep in mind for preventing acne scars are,
1. Do not pick or pop your pimples. Forcefully squeezing out the contents of your pimples increases the risk of developing acne scars.
2. Early prevention can stop acne scars. Consult your doctor and treat your acne on time.
3. Reduce inflammation to prevent acne scars. Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herbs and medicines can ensure quick healing and prevent skin tissue damage from acne.
4. Wear sunscreen. Acne marks and scars may worsen with overexposure to the sun. Constant sun exposure can cause skin damage, hyperpigmentation and also weaken your skin’s ability to heal itself.
5. Let your acne heal completely. Avoid the tendency to pick on scabs. Scabs form a protective layer and ensure the safe healing of your acne within it. Picking on a scab can cause infection and delay the process of tissue repair.
6. Don’t over-exfoliate when you are having an acne breakout. This may increase the chance of developing acne scars. Use a gentle face wash for your acne scars. Face washes that contain natural fruit acids may help reduce the appearance of your scars.
7. Stop or limit smoking. Exposure to tobacco smoke reduces your skin’s immunity and may aggravate an already existing acne condition.
8. If your skin is prone to scarring, consult your doctor to know the best skincare and diet to protect your skin and strengthen its immunity.
How Long Does It Take For Acne Scars To Fade?
Depending on the severity of your acne condition and damage suffered by your skin, acne scars may take 3 to 6 months to completely disappear.
Acne induced hyperpigmentation causing brown or black spots, or red marks caused by post-inflammatory erythema may fade quicker than deep scars.
Following a proper Ayurvedic skincare routine will help your skin to heal faster. However, for deep atrophic scars, you may need to consult your doctor and seek other treatment.
When Should You See A Dermatologist For Acne Scars?
If your acne scars do not fade despite the suggested Ayurvedic and home remedies, you may need to consult your dermatologist. Persistent acne scars that last over a year may need treatment that is specifically designed to help your skin recover.
What Is The Difference Between Acne Marks & Acne Scars?
The below table will help you to distinguish between acne marks and acne scars.
Acne marks are caused by melanocyte hyperactivity or post-inflammatory erythema at the site of the acne breakout.
Acne scars are the result of excess or low production of collagen during the tissue healing process.
Acne marks look like brown, black or red spots.
Acne scars are of two types, hypertrophic or atrophic scars. Hypertrophic scars look like raised lumps on whe skin Whereas, atrophic acne scars cause deep indentations on your skin.
Acne marks fade easily with the formation of new skin.
Acne scars can take around 6 months to heal as the skin damage is on a deeper level.
Treatment for acne marks focuses on skin lightening and tyrosinase inhibition.
Treatment for acne scars aid wound healing and boost the production of new collagen.
The Last Word
Acne scars are an annoyance and can be difficult to get rid of. Thus, it is always better to take precautions to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Simple measures like treating your acne condition on time can save you days and money spent on acne scar treatments.
However, if your acne still leaves behind an unsightly scar, seek advice from your Ayurvedic doctor. A tailor-made treatment based on your unique Prakriti (body constitution) and the level of your doshas can holistically treat your acne scars and prevent them from occurring again.Know Your Dosha Now
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