Don’t Be Scarred for Life
We all make jokes about childhood experiences staying with us long past our teenage years; the clothes your mum used to dress you in or the ‘ten-to-two’ bird you pulled at the school disco that your mates will never let you live down.
And whilst a bit of good humour will get you through most of them, for some men, acne during childhood can leave an unwelcome reminder of their younger years. The good news is that most acne suffers will grow out of the condition post-adolescence, however some will be left with a harsh reminder of times gone by in the form of both facial and bodily scarring.
What do acne scars look like?
Scars can come in three shapes: Atrophic, which are mostly shallow, boxcar-shaped and ice pick-shaped, which are narrow and deeper. People with deeper skin tones may also notice darkening within the scars, while people with lighter skin tones may show redness.
The red marks left behind acne immediately after a breakout aren’t actually scars to begin with but a sign that your skin is trying to heal itself. This healing process can take up to 12 months and, if no more lesions appear in the same place, can lead to full recovery of the skin in that area.
During this healing process, there are a number of things you can both do and avoid to give your complexion the best chance of returning to its pre-blemish state.
DON’T expose your skin to unprotected exposure to the sun as this causes more skin damage and delays healing. Ultraviolet rays stimulate melanocytes (pigment-producing cells), leading to further discoloration.
DO apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher before heading outdoors and reapply every two hours.
DON’T go picking and squeezing your acne spots, no matter how tempting it may be! Scabs form to protect the healing process that is going on underneath them so pulling them off before the time is right interferes with the healing and remodelling process, prolonging the time that redness and inflammation will be visible.
DO try using tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita), a form of Vitamin A. It speeds up the skin’s remodelling process and helps heal post-inflammatory changes.
DON’T use vitamin E creams. There have been claims that applying topical vitamin E to a scar will help it heal faster, however research has found that applying it directly onto a scar can actually hinder its healing.
DO seek advice from your doctor – they may be able to prescribe a cortisone cream to help calm your skin and boost the healing process.
So whilst the development of acne may be out of your hands, the treatment of it isn’t. Thanks to scientific research, new treatments are coming onto the market all the time – so ditch the brown paper bag on your head and take steps to ensure you aren’t scarred for life.
Men In Malta – Literature