No one wants to be reminded that they had acne as a teenager. Severe cases of acne often leave permanent reminders—acne scarring—where skin is pitted where the acne damaged the underlying pores and skin tissue.
Mild acne would be a sprinkle of pimples, blackheads or whiteheads. They can be mainly hormonal or a consistent 2-5 every week. Moderate acne means more pimples, larger in size and red. Acne tends to cluster on cheeks, jaw line, chest, and back, but can be anywhere on the body.
Severe acne pustules dig deep into the skin, stretching pores and distorting the underlying tissue. Acne scarring is the result of this distortion of tissue. Other causes of scarring include irritating the pustules by picking at them, which may cause infection, hence the angry red color.
It’s important to control acne before scarring occurs, if possible. One popular preparation to control and clear acne is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different strengths ranging from 2.5% to 10%. Try a few different percentages and stick with the one that helps you most. If you have a higher percentage, use that only 2-3x per week to avoid excess irritation and to keep your skin from getting accustomed to its usage.
BP speeds cell turnover (or peeling) inside the follicles and outside, which allows damaged skin to be replaced faster with new skin. When first starting with benzoyl peroxide, it’s best to use lower concentrations to avoid irritating the skin further. Irritation can cause acne pimples to break, which will cause more scarring later. It’s best to avoid an aggressive treatment if acne is mild to moderate.
Other ways to control acne are daily beta hydroxy acids or alpha hydroxy acids. Cleansers, toners, serums and peels can be used daily or (peels) weekly to control the thickness of dead skin on the top of the face. The acids not only thin the upper skin but they help to exfoliate deep in the pores where the clogs begin. Salicylic is especially helpful with this as it is oil-soluble and will dig deep into the pores. A combination of AB Cleanser, Purify Toner, Vitamin B Complex and Retinol in the evenings will control most cases of acne that are grades 1, 2 or 3.
If acne is severe, a more aggressive approach is needed. Chemical peels rid the skin of acne and can yield good results in clearing superficial scars. The peel will remove the upper layers of the skin, which takes the acne scarring down, making it less noticeable. They also aid in stimulating new collagen fiber growth to help fill in depressed scars.
Even with a mild chemical peel, like Jessners, the skin may still have noticeable scarring. If the damage is already done, there are ways to minimize the appearance on the skin. Abrasive scrubs may seem like the way to go, but avoid them as they cause further damage to skin that is already distressed. Instead choose a multifaceted approach like a TCA CROSS peel.
*Excerpt from Peel Manual regarding applying a TCA CROSS Peel
TCA CROSS stands for: trichloroacetic acid chemical reconstruction of skin scars. This is the process in where you apply a strong acid solution directly into or on the scar itself. The TCA helps to break down the damaged tissues and stimulates them to be replaced with new un-scarred tissues. You can perform a CROSS peel only 1x every 5 weeks. The 5 weeks in between treatments is to allow the new tissues to fully regenerate. *Many people will do a full face TCA peel in a 13% and then do a 2nd layer of the CROSS only on the scars themselves. This will help to create a smooth surface over your entire face while you are still treating scars with the extra boost of acid.
To make this process work more quickly, you will want to add a copper serum product into the mix. We suggest Dr. Pickart's SuperCop 2x cream as the adjunct. Apply a tiny amount of the deep blue copper cream into the scar each evening. The copper's remodeling properties will aid in flushing out the damaged tissues and will help to regenerate a new, unblemished skin surface. To aid in penetration of the copper, we suggest a layer of pure emu oil. Not only will this help to push the copper deeper into the skin, it will help to soothe, heal and stimulate growth.
Chemical peels strike fear in some people with visions of acid being used to burn the skin off. There are some peels of that nature, like a Bakers peel (phenol) blend. This would only be done under a doctor's hand. It causes an extreme amount of skin to be removed and can damage the skin's pigmentation permanently. This is not the kind of peel we are talking about for home use.
Many chemical peels are made from natural acids found in fruit, such as: citric acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid. Some peels contain alpha hydroxy acids, some are beta hydroxy acids and then you have blends of acids and TCA peels.
All chemical peels work in the same way. They dissolve the bonds that hold the layers of dead tissues to our face. Once the top layers of the skin are removed, it allows the undamaged skin underneath to be exposed. The removal of dead skin forces new skin growth. New skin has better elasticity and turgidity and replaces the loosened skin that resulted from acne scarring. New skin has better blood flow, which will give the damaged area a more natural glow. The skin will continue to improve each time a chemical peel is done.
Chemical peels can be done bi-weekly for all the AHA and BHA acids. Only TCA or Jessners would require a longer time period between peels, usually between 3 - 4 weeks. *Waiting time depends solely on the % of acid applied and how many layers of that acid are applied. Follow direction manual included with all peels.
Make sure to read our blog post on Why Do I Have Acne and How To Get Rid Of It. to address all of the reasons you have acne.