For most people, acne is just something you have to deal with as a teenager or maybe into your early adult years, but then they go away and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Well, it turns out that even though the acne might go away eventually, it can lead to long-term problems for your skin if it isn’t treated properly. Managing acne now is crucial for your skin. Such problems can range from smaller pits and pockmarks on your skin to full-blown infections and more serious scarring.
This is a guest post, courtesy of Dr. Craig Crippen from DermMedica.
Poor management of acne can lead to simple or more severe scarring. It happens when the pores that get clogged and turn into pimples instead become inflamed enough that the follicle wall in the skin ruptures. When this happens, your body will try to repair itself by clearing away any damaged skin cells and making new cells in their place. However, sometimes your body does not do a perfect job of leaving the damaged area as good as new, which can lead to the following:
- Pits or pockmarks — small pits on your skin
- Keloid scars — raised and discolored skin
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — not an actual scar, just a leftover discoloration of the skin
If your acne pores are more severely inflamed, the rupture will be bigger and spreads the damage deeper in your skin. The larger the area of damage, the more likely your skin will not heal itself properly and leave scarring. That is why it is so important to manage your acne properly. Treat it as soon as you notice it. Reduce the inflammation and irritation as much as you can, and avoid picking at or popping pimples as much as possible. If you do not manage it properly, you are increasing the risk of scarring and other damage to your skin.
A more severe type of acne is called cystic acne, which occurs when the buildup of oils and dead skin and resulting inflammation in your pores is more extensive than usual. When the follicle walls rupture, it leads to cystic infection deeper under your skin. The area around the infected area will be red and more sensitive to touch, and even though it is under your skin will appear as swollen lumps. Cystic acne is more likely to occur when you do not treat your initial acne properly.
Cystic acne infections are much more likely to lead to scarring because of how severe they are and how extensive the damage deeper under your skin can be. In fact, the severity and deepness of the infection can make them difficult to treat, which can lead to prolonged swelling, infection, and irritation. The irritation can lead to people picking and poking at the area or trying to pop it thinking it’s just a big pimple. This, in turn, pushes the infection further under your skin and spreads the damage, prolonging the time it takes to heal.
Cystic acne is more likely to cause scarring in general, as well as more severe scarring. So if you mismanage your acne you will have to deal with the long-term consequences of getting treatments and procedures to cure the scarring and damage to your skin.
Infections can increase the severity of acne scars. Managing acne is crucial to prevent scaring. The vast majority of acne people get will not get infected, but popping the pimple or picking at it so it opens up the skin you can allow bacteria inside and lead to an infection. This is why you should never pop your pimples, and treat it right away. Infected pimples lead to greater damage to your skin than regular acne, due to the increase in inflammation and the spread of infection. It can also be more difficult to treat as it is deeper under your skin.
One of the more severe types of infections that can occur is cellulitis, an infection caused by bacteria that can enter the skin through popped pimples. The bacteria that leads to cellulitis through your acne is usually streptococcus (the type of bacteria that causes strep throat) or staphylococcus (the type of bacteria that causes staph infections). If you don’t want a strep or staph infection on your face, make sure you stay on top of managing your acne with the right regimen of products and treatments.
Both types of infections can be very serious. In addition to the risk of it spreading to your eyes or your brain, potentially blinding or even killing you, it also causes extremely severe inflammation and damage to your skin. The scarring and general damage can be far more extensive and difficult to recover from without special treatments or even surgery. If you find that your face or skin around the acne becomes inflamed and painful to even touch, you should immediately see a doctor for treatment.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Ottawa Ontario, Dr. Crippen has attended three Canadian Universities and obtained four educational titles including his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). After receiving his M.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, Dr. Crippen then completed his specialty training at the University of Manitoba over the next two years. He has worked extensively in public and private medicine since 2003, but in response to rising demand, Dr. Crippen has devoted his practice exclusively to both medical & cosmetic skin care procedures/treatments at his clinic.
A Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, and a diplomate of the American Board of Laser Surgery in Cosmetic Procedures, Dr. Crippen has trained with physicians who are at the forefront of laser & aesthetic medicine. He has made many educational visits to medical laser clinics throughout North America and Europe.