Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why won't my acne scars go away?"
I'm a 18 year old student, and I have a bad case of acne scars. All my pimples are gone, but I have these harsh scars as an ugly reminder of those pimples I had in high school. I frequently use over the counter scar treatment (Mederma), but it doesn't seem to work. I've considered surgery, but it's way too expensive. What can I do about my scars within a reasonable budget?
I am sorry to hear that you had such severe acne problems. Fortunately, it sounds like the acne problem is resolving for you. If this is a recently resolved problem, then you may be experiencing post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a condition in which the skin remains pink or otherwise discolored as part of the normal healing process. This does not usually need to be treated because, as long as the acne stays in control, these color changes will gradually fade away. Sometimes a medication from your dermatologist like tretinoin can be used to speed up this process. If what you are dealing with is more true scarring (depressions, icepicks, and pockmarks) in the skin then, unfortunately, there are no real options that are inexpensive. None of the over the counter treatments work at all. Sometimes, deep scarring (like icepicks) can only be treated by cutting out the scar tissue. Other treatment options are available from your dermatologist, and include laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, and dermal fillers. These methods depend on what your scarring pattern looks like and they can all be quite effective but, unfortunately, they are all expensive and rarely are the covered under most standard health insurance plans.
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