Monday, December 25, 2006

Acne Scars

Acne sufferers can sometimes receive a double wallop of skin problems to deal with. Not only do they have to fend off the lesions that are a part of acne, but they can also have scars to contend with after the lesions are gone.

Acne is caused when pores (actually hair follicles) clogged by oil and dead skin cells cause bacteria to be produced, which can lead to pimples. This most often happens during the teen years when the hormone changes lead to excess sebum (oil) production.

There are different types of acne lesions including:

Comedones - which we know as whiteheads and blackheads, that result from plugged pores. Closed comedones where the plug remains in the skin are whiteheads, and open comedones are blackheads. Dirt is not the cause of the black color in blackheads rather it's a reaction of the air with the skin's pigment.

Pustules - are pus-filled acne lesions and are usually red near the skin surface.

Papules - are like pustules but are red inflamed pimples without the white pus-filled center.

Cysts or nodules - are the most serious form of lesion. They are large, pus-filled, and painful, and extend deep into the skin. Cysts are the cause of the most serious acne scarring.

There are levels of acne severity as well - from mild to severe: Mild - consists mostly of whiteheads, blackheads and occasionally small pustules or papules. This type of acne does not result in scarring of any significant or lasting extent.

Moderate - consists of papules and pustules in addition to more extensive whiteheads and blackheads.

Severe - consists of cysts, redness and swelling of the face and can result in extensive scarring. This type of acne requires the attention of a dermatologist.

This severe type of acne is the form that can leave deep permanent scars, because the cysts go deep into the skin and can burst, causing extensive damage. The best course of action in the case of cystic acne is to get medical attention as soon as possible.

If you already have prominent acne scars, there are treatments options available. Most require the skin to be free from acne when used, so you must treat the acne first before you can attack the scars.

One of the types of acne scar treatment is called dermabrasion or surgical skin planing. This "sands" off the top layer or layers of the skin, those that have scarring, so that new and smoother layers can replace them. The skin is first frozen with a freezing spray product, and an instrument that spins and contains some kind of abrading head (a wire brush or diamond surface) is used to remove the scars. Healing may take a few weeks and the skin will be red for a while, but it can lessen scarring considerably.

Another treatment is using a laser to resurface or peel the skin. The top layer of the skin is removed with a carbon dioxide laser, and the middle layer is conditioned in order to leave the skin smoother. It's performed by a dermatologist or a qualified doctor and usually takes less than an hour. A local anesthetic is administered before the procedure is done. The healing time varies but can take up to 3 weeks. Laser resurfacing has been shown, for some, to have less post-procedural discomfort, bleeding and bruising than other resurfacing methods.

Some of the deeper and more severe scars may require surgical removal while the less severe ones may be dealt with using either a chemical peel or a milder form of abrasion.

While these procedures are meant to deal with serious scars caused by severe acne - lesser scars can result from squeezing or popping pimples. These less prominent scars, while not requiring any of the aforementioned methods, may still take a fair amount of time to fade. So it's best not to break your pimples if you can avoid doing so.

Stephanie McIntyre has been a Platinum eBay Powerseller, an eBay Trading Assistant as well as an Educational Assistant trained by eBay. Her company, eSales Unlimited Inc. specializes in training small business owners in using eBay as an additional revenue stream. She maintains a site with information on selling on eBay.


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