What? You say you don’t want long-lasting acne scars? Well, you could have fooled me. In your quest for perfect skin, you may actually be creating so much trauma that you’re turning a minor acne breakout into major scarring that could mar your face for years, if not a lifetime.
If you want skin that’s acne-free, plus acne-scar-free, you’ll need to change up some habits.
Top Five Dos and Don’ts for Clear, Scar-less Skin
DO Use Sunscreen
You may think that goopy sunscreen is going to make you break out, but not wearing sunscreen does your skin infinitely more harm. Acne scars are even more susceptible to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays than healthy skin. Sun damage can slow the scar’s healing or cause it to darken and become more visible. Some acne medications can even sensitize your skin to UVA and UVB rays, so that you’re more liable to burn.
Always wear a sunscreen when outdoors — even if you currently have acne. You can minimize the chance of the sunscreen causing a breakout by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Kitagawa and his team of skin experts at Kitagawa Dermatology to find a sunscreen with ingredients such as zinc oxide, that don’t irritate your skin or clog your pores.
DON’T Pop or Squeeze
Yes, that pimple’s ugly and you want to get rid of it fast. But squeezing it or popping it with your fingers or a blackhead extractor damages your skin and may scar it, too. The pimple may be less visible at the moment, but manipulating and picking at your skin aggressively can cause inflammation and even introduce bacteria into the acne lesion.
To take care of that zit, dab it with benzoyl peroxide so that it dries up on its own. Your dermatologist can also remove individual lesions in a manner that doesn’t traumatize the surrounding skin. Better yet, get monthly photofacials or chemical peels that not only help your skin stay blemish free, but also improve the quality of your skin overall. For existing acne scars, Dr. Kitagawa also offers laser therapy to help reduce or erase the signs of scarring. For indentations or uneven scarring, Dr. Kitagawa can use facial fillers, such as Restylane, to help smooth out and conceal the scar tissue.
Learn more about cosmetic procedures for scar tissue at WebMD.com.
DO Be Gentle
You want to be sure that your skin is clean to minimize the chances of oily buildup clogging your pores and possibly contributing to acne. However, over-scrubbing or using abrasive cleansers or dermabrasion can wear down your skin and degrade its quality.
Using a coarse washcloth, cleansing with electronic brushes, and dabbing your skin with harsh astringents can all irritate your skin and make it more susceptible to infection.
Only wash your face when you get up in the morning, after a sweaty workout, and once more before bedtime. Be sure to use a mild, noncomedogenic cleansing product that doesn’t have harsh or drying ingredients. Pat — don’t rub — your face dry with a soft, clean towel.
DO Get An Expert’s Help
Taking excellent care of your skin by changing your habits can decrease the number of acne breakouts and keep scarring to a minimum. If you want to learn more about how to keep your skin acne and scar-free, or need treatment for your acne or acne scars, set up a consultation with Dr. Kory Kitagawa at Kitagawa Dermatology, located at the Kuakini Medical Plaza, 321 N. Kuakini St, #610, in Honolulu. You can call our practice or contact us online to learn more.