Scarring and pigmentation can be caused by a host of different factors but in many, it’s the consequence of breakouts. Acne causes inflammation in the skin, the pore swells and either you’ve popped it or the wall breaks. Most superficial spots will heal without acne scarring, however depending on the level of inflammation in the first layer of the skin, the epidermis, or second layer, the dermis, deposits of melanin (pigment) may also increase.
“The severity of scarring is directly related to the depth of the pimple, the depth of the inflammation and the person’s skin type,” explains Dr. Michelle Rodrigues, Founder and Director of Chroma Dermatology – Australia’s first and only dedicated dermatology centre for pigment and skin of colour.
While there are a huge amount of products on the market, all three conditions can actually benefit from similar ingredients. Michelle advises salicylic acid and glycolic acid as a good starting point for blackheads and whiteheads as these exfoliate the top layer of the skin. Niacinamide-containing creams and serums can also be helpful but she advises they can cause irritation and redness in some people.
“It is best to see a dermatologist if an acne-specific cleanser and moisturiser is not controlling the acne,” says Michelle.
Acne, scarring and pigmentation don’t often exist in isolation and while you may wish to fight on all fronts, Michelle advises to consult a medical professional such as GP or Dermatologist. Treating scarring and pigmentation are delicate processes, throw in ‘active’ acne and combination therapies are likely needed. Michelle stresses that sometimes products that are marketed for pigmentation can actually make acne worse.
“Prevention is the best medicine! So, it is best to get blackheads, whiteheads and pustules under control as soon as you can. There is no point treating scarring and pigment if you aren’t treating the acne itself”.
So what is often a difficult time with acne can turn a constant reminder in scarring and pigmentation. The breakouts are gone but the memories remain, which is why skin health is just as important as psychological wellbeing.
“Mental health and self-esteem issues are very common in those that suffer with acne. Everyone sees skin – especially the skin on your face,” says Michelle.
“I often talk with patients about what they are feeling and how they are coping with things. I feel humbled to be able to journey with people, to see their courage and to watch them become confident in the skin they are in.”
Dr. Michelle Rodrigues is Founder and Director of Chroma Dermatology