Treating acne is tough. Treating acne scars is tougher. And compared to other types of acne scars, healing ice pick scars is tough – because of their depth.
Treating ice pick scars is not a distant dream or an unattainable goal. Although professional treatment options are available, none of them can erase these scars. They can only improve their appearance and make them less noticeable. Scroll down to find out more about ice pick scars and ways to treat them.
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What Are Ice Pick Scars?
Ice pick scars are the most common types of acne scars.
They usually have a “V” shape and look like someone poked holes in your skin with a sharp object (such as an ice pick). These form tiny and deep holes in your skin. Some of them might even look like enlarged pores.
These scars extend much deeper into your dermis, which is why it is challenging to treat them. How do these scars form? Find out in the next section.
How Do Ice Pick Scars Develop?
Severe acne, such as deep cysts and papules, which damage the skin structure to a great extent can cause ice pick scars.
The development of ice pick scars mainly depends on two factors – first, how your skin is healing, and second, inflammation. We have already understood that if the inflammation extends much deeper into your skin, you are more likely to develop scarring. Also, picking acne before it heals increases your chances of developing scars.
Hence, you should never pick or squeeze acne. Treat it immediately so that it does not leave behind any scars. However, if you still develop ice pick scars, there are several ways to minimize their appearance so that your skin appears smoother.
Popular Treatment Options To Improve The Appearance Of Ice Pick Scars
The treatment options discussed here are performed by dermatologists, who will determine which treatment option is good for your skin and scars. All treatment options have their pros and cons, and you can discuss them with the doctor before undergoing the procedure. The dermatologist may use a single treatment method or a combination of treatments for the best results.
1. Punch Excision
In this method, the ice pick scar is cut out using a circular tool. The wound is then stitched from all sides. A new flat scar forms in place of the ice pick scar. Instead of a deeper scar, this technique will form a less noticeable, much smaller, and linear scar (1).
2. Punch Replacement Grafting Or Punch Grafting
In this method, the ice pick scar is filled with skin taken from any other part of the body. It is similar to skin grafting and is considered the best of all methods to improve the appearance of ice pick scars. You may need multiple replacement grafts (often 20 or more) (1).
3. Punch Elevation
This method is a mixture of punch excision and punch grafting. In this process, the center of the scar is removed and then elevated such that it is just slightly raised and matches the level of the bordering tissue. This makes the scar appear flat. This is mostly used for boxcar scars. However, the doctor may also use this for ice pick scars along with a combination of other techniques (2).
In this process, the dermatologist uses a special abrasive tool to remove the top layer of the scar. The device is moved over your skin to remove the epidermis. As the skin layer is removed, the ice pick scars appear shallow, with a less pitted appearance. You need to go for follow-up sessions as the results are temporary.
Like dermabrasion, this is also a skin resurfacing treatment. In this process, the dermatologist uses a small tool with a diamond tip to rub against your skin. This removes the upper layer of your skin, making the scars less visible. Often, this process is used along with punch excision and other scar minimizing treatments.
In this method, a special and tiny tool is used to create multiple small injuries (small holes) in the scar. This is to make the skin produce more collagen to heal the wound. Once the wound heals, the depth of the scar is reduced. You will need multiple sessions to gain maximum benefits from this treatment.
7. Chemical Peel
This method works by removing the topmost layer of the skin. High concentration (as determined by the doctor) of skin acids is used for this purpose. Deep peels give you maximum results. However, they might cause side effects, such as skin irritation and redness. Although at-home chemical peels are available, it is better to get it done under the supervision of a skin care specialist.
8. Laser Resurfacing
In this procedure, high-frequency lasers are used to remove the skin on and around the scars to promote the growth of new skin cells. The process may involve using nonablative and ablative lasers. Nonablative lasers help promote collagen production, while ablative lasers help remove the skin layer.
9. TCA CROSS
This is a chemical reconstruction of facial scars. This process uses an acid called trichloroacetic (TCA) acid. This acid is inserted into your scars. The concentration is often high, anywhere between 70% and 100%. The acid damages the epithelial layer of your skin. As the wound heals, your skin produces collagen to cover it. As a result, the depth of your scar decreases.
10. Radiofrequency Therapy
Compared to other methods, this one is new. It involves using high-frequency radio waves to smoothen and tighten your skin. This minimizes the appearance of your scars.
Even though professional treatment methods are the best way to improve these scars, many opt to try home remedies and topical ointments. But do they work?
Do Home Remedies And Other OTC Medicines Work On Ice Pick Scars?
Home remedies do nothing to minimize ice pick scars. Even topical ointments are not as powerful as professional treatments in improving the appearance of these scars and making your skin smoother.
Some homemade remedies involving rosehip seed oil, aloe vera gel, honey, yogurt, and other common ingredients may help improve the overall texture of your skin, but they cannot treat ice pick scars.
Although home remedies and ointments may not diminish the scars, they can help in keeping your skin healthy and preventing possibilities of future breakouts. If you already have acne on your face, a good skin care regimen ensures that you do not develop scars later.
Ice pick scars are a result of a severe acne outbreak, and professional treatments can only make them less noticeable. Hence, it is better to prevent scarring than to treat the condition later. Avoid picking and touching your acne repeatedly. Follow a thorough skin care regimen and practice good skin hygiene to prevent future outbreaks and minimize the risk of scarring.
We hope that this article was helpful to you. Post your feedback and questions (if any) in the comments section below.
- Effective Treatments of Atrophic Acne Scars. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Efficacy of Punch Elevation Combined with Fractional Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing in Facial Atrophic Acne Scarring: A Randomized Split-face Clinical Study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.