What’s worse than waking up with red and inflamed acne or a zit? The physical scar it leaves behind. Even if you do not pop your zits, often, they leave behind indentations on your skin, which are known as pockmarks.
You don’t always get pockmarks by picking your zits. There are several other causes behind it. The bad news is, you cannot erase these scars. However, you can minimize their appearance and make them less visible. In this article, we have explored everything you need to know about pockmarks and ways to treat them. Read on.
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What Are Pockmarks, And What Causes Them?
Pockmarks are the scars and indentations that occur after your skin is damaged due to an infection, inflammatory or cystic acne, or chickenpox. These are often concave, shallow holes, indicating deeper damage to the dermis. They make your skin look uneven and can make you conscious about your appearance.
You develop pockmarks when a skin condition affects the deeper layers of your dermis. Your skin starts healing itself by covering the wound with collagen. Often, the extra collagen forms a scar on the wound site, making it more noticeable than the rest of your skin.
Picking and popping pimples and acne is one of the causes of scars. However, this is not the only reason to get pockmarks. Several other causes can cause pockmarks on your skin, such as:
- Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases, such as chickenpox and smallpox, cause blisters and raised bumps on your skin. These bumps turn itchy when they start to heal. When you scratch the blisters before they heal completely, you get pockmarks.
- Other Skin Infections
Skin infections caused by bacteria, such as Streptococcus or Staphylococcus (causing staph infection) can also leave behind scars or pockmarks. These infections often occur in the hair follicles, and you get a painful boil.
Any recent cut on your skin can also get infected by these bacteria. This affects the skin layers and leaves behind a scar or pockmark.
It is impossible to get rid of pockmarks. However, there are treatment options available to minimize their appearance and make your skin appear smoother than before.
Remember, these treatments give varying results depending on your skin type and the depth of scars you have. Also, not all skin types can tolerate all treatments. Consult a doctor beforehand to decide what type of treatment is suitable for you.
Treating Pockmarks: Ways To Minimize Their Appearance
1. Chemical Peeling
From minimizing scars to reducing the appearance of wrinkles, chemical peels are used for various skin care and cosmetic purposes. Depending on your scars and pockmarks, the dermatologist may suggest a chemical peeling procedure.
In this procedure, a layer of skin acid is applied to the affected area. The acids used include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid or TCA, and pyruvic acid.
Chemical peels work best for flat surface scars. You have to use these regularly to get the best results.
Some of the side effects of chemical peels include:
- Burning sensation
- Skin redness
2. Dermal Fillers
These work best for deep pockmarks. According to the American Academy Of Dermatology, these fillers can plump up depressed scars (1). Dermatologists use the patient’s fat, collagen, or any other substance to fill the scars.
Some fillers are temporary, lasting anywhere between 6 months to 18 months, while some are permanent fillers.
Fillers often cause side effects, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin irritation
- Skin infection
This is a skin resurfacing treatment and gives you similar results as chemical peels. In this procedure, the dermatologist uses a rotating wired brush-like tool to gently remove the epidermis (top layer) and dermis (middle layer) of your skin.
Scraping the top layers make your skin appear even and smooth. Dermabrasion is preferable for deeper pockmarks.
However, it also has side effects such as:
- Skin infection
- Blotchy skin
- Large pores
- Fresh scarring
In this procedure, the epidermis is gently scrubbed or removed using abrasive ingredients such as aluminum oxide or small crystals of bicarbonate.
If you have small surface scars, this is the best option for you. However, you may need to undergo microdermabrasion frequently to get remarkable results.
The possible side effects of this treatment include:
- Minor bruises
- Tightness of skin
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
This process is also known as Collagen Induction Therapy. Here, the pockmarks are punctured with tiny needles. Your body starts producing more collagen in the affected area to heal the wounds, and eventually, it fills the pockmarks.
To get maximum results, you may have to go for follow-up treatments as suggested by the dermatologist. Although this is considered a safe procedure, you may experience redness and irritation for a few days.
6. Ablative Laser Resurfacing
In this treatment, the healthcare professional uses a laser to remove thin layers of your skin. You may need to undergo the treatment for several weeks or sessions, as suggested by the dermatologist. However, the results can last for a long time (several years) without any follow-up procedure.
This treatment may have a few side effects and risks involved, such as:
- Change in skin color
7. Fractional Laser
In this treatment, a laser is used to burn the outer layer of scar tissue, thus promoting cell regeneration. This eventually heals and covers up the pockmarks, making them less visible.
This treatment also comes with a few side effects, such as:
- Changes in skin color
If you do not want to undergo these treatments, you may try natural ways to minimize the pockmarks. Do not expect overnight results. Natural treatments and home remedies do not guarantee results, but those who have tried these methods saw noticeable results with long-term and persistent usage.
Is There Any Natural Way To Get Rid Of Pockmarks?
1. Over-The-Counter Products
This is the first option that most of the people resort to before moving on to other remedies. From silicone gel sheets to creams, there are multiple options available. These mainly hydrate the area and help in minimizing the appearance of the scars.
These products also help to reduce skin discomfort. However, you have to be patient and persistent in using OTC products as they take months to show results.
Apart from creams and sheets, you may try low-strength chemical peels. These peels will not give you results similar to chemical peeling done in a clinic, but with continuous use, they might give results.
2. Moisturizing Oils And Butters
Moisturizing the affected area with oils and butters often helps in minimizing pockmarks and scars. However, not everyone gets the same results. Some might see a noticeable improvement in the appearance of scars, while others may not.
Moreover, you may be allergic to some butters and oils, which can cause other adverse effects on your skin. Hence, do a patch test before using them. Some options that you may try include:
- Jojoba oil
- Cocoa butter
- Olive oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Hempseed oil
- Shea butter
Studies have found that moisturization can be beneficial in scar management (2).
3. Face Massage
This will not help reduce your pockmarks, but you can try facial massage along with other treatments. Massaging the face stimulates the muscles, boosts circulation, and rejuvenates your skin.
4. Essential Oils
Lavender and frankincense essential oils can help in wound healing and minimizing scars. Both lavender and frankincense essential oils inhibit the production of Collagen III, ensuring proper wound healing (2), (3).
Try using the oils during the healing period to reduce the appearance of scars or pockmarks.
Time heals all wounds, but it cannot always erase the scars. Pockmarks do not fade by themselves, and there is no proven way or standard treatment method that can guarantee to erase them. All you can do is take good care of your skin and consult a dermatologist and treat them to minimize their appearance.
Do you have any more questions regarding pockmarks? Post them in the comments section below, and we will get back to you.
- ACNE SCARS: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT. American Academy of Dermatology.
- Updated Scar Management Practical Guidelines: Non-invasive and invasive measures.
Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, ScienceDirect
- Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-β in a rat model. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Biological activities of frankincense essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Biochimie Open, ScienceDirect.