When the deeper layers of the skin below the epidermis get damaged, they can lead to pockmarks. These are immersed or concave shaped scars and resemble dents or holes formed in the skin. They are also called acne scars or pick marks.
Pockmarks are very much noticeable because they look visibly different from the rest of the skin and give an uneven texture. When the deeper, damaged layers of the skin start to heal, the cells produce more collagen, which may leave behind scar tissue that looks different from the tissues on the rest of your skin.
What Causes Pockmarks On The Face?
You can have this when a skin condition affects the deeper layers of your dermis. Your skin starts healing itself by giving up collagen. If the body produces too much or too little collagen, the site becomes more detectable than the rest of your skin, resulting in a scar.
Picking and popping pimples are some of the causes of scars. Various other causes that can result in pockmarks on your skin are:
- Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases, such as smallpox and chickenpox, cause blisters and raised bumps on your skin. These bumps turn tickling when they start to heal. When you scratch the pustules before they heal completely, you get pockmarks.
- Other Skin Infections
Skin infections caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus can also leave behind scars or pockmarks. These often occur in the hair follicles.
Any new cut on your skin can also get infected by these bacteria which in turn affects the deeper skin layers and leaves behind a scar or pockmark.
How To Treat Pockmarks?
While no treatment gives a 100% promise of removing pockmarks completely, there are a few treatment options available that can minimize their appearance. All of them need professional advice and treatments should be taken based on the skin type and their levels of tolerance. Details of each are mentioned below:
1. Treatment Creams
These over the counter creams work to reduce the appearance of scars and can be used without a prescription. They need to be used regularly and take a longer time to show results compared to other treatment options. Sometimes, they also cause side effects.
Most people opt for over the counter treatments as the first option to treat pockmarks. These OTC treatments hydrate the skin and may reduce itching. But, because the chemicals present may cause side effects, if you are planning on long term use, it is better to do so with advice from an experienced dermatologist.
2. Chemical Peel Treatments
This is a very popular treatment option to reduce the appearance of pockmarks on the face.
From reducing scars to minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, chemical peels are used for various skin care purposes. Depending on your pockmarks, the professionals may suggest a chemical peeling treatment.
In this procedure, a layer of skin acid which include salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid or TCA, glycolic acid, and pyruvic acid is applied to the affected area.
Regular use of chemical peels works best for flat surface scars.
Some side effects of this treatment are:
- Burning sensation
- Skin redness
This is a skin resurfacing treatment and provides similar results as chemical peels. In this process, the dermatologist uses a rotating wired brush-like tool to gently remove the top layer and middle layer of your skin.
Scraping the top layers make your skin look even and smooth. Dermabrasion is mainly preferable for deeper pockmarks.
Dermabrasion 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, like aluminium oxide or diamond tip handpiece.
If you have small external scars, this is the best option for you. However, you may need to undergo this process frequently to get the best results.
The possible side effects of microdermabrasion are:
- Minor bruises
- Tightness of skin
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
5. Ablative Laser Resurfacing
One of the most invasive treatments for pockmarks uses a laser beam to remove several layers of the skin. It removes the thinner layer of the skin on pockmarks. You may need to undergo the treatment for several sessions, as suggested by the dermatologist. And the results can last for several years without any follow-up procedure.
This treatment has a few side effects, like:
- Change in skin colour
6. Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing
Non-ablative laser resurfacing works to minimise pockmarks by stimulating the skin to increase collagen production. The result of this treatment takes longer to show and don’t last as long as ablative laser resurfacing. It doesn’t need much time for healing and recovery either.
This laser therapy comes with possible side effects like dark spots, blisters, redness, and possibly new scars.
7. Dermal Fillers
These work best for deep pockmarks. Dermatologists use the patient’s collagen, fat or any other material to fill the scars.
Some fillers are temporary lasting anywhere between 6-18 months, while some are permanent fillers.
Fillers often cause side effects, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin irritation
- Skin infection
8. Fractional Laser
This therapy is different from the other treatments. Fractional laser therapy directs a laser beam on the pockmarks and scar tissue. The laser burns out the epidermis layer of the skin and promotes the growth of new skin cells. This cell regeneration makes the pockmarks less visible.
9. Punch Excision
Punch excision has no side effects and needs to be done only once. The dermatologist uses a punch - a tool that is bigger than the scars. It removes the pockmark completely, but there will be a scar, left on the surface of your skin which is less prominent than the pockmark.
Microneedling is also known as Collagen Induction Therapy. In this process, the pockmarks are punctured with tiny needles. Your body starts making more collagen in the affected area to heal the wounds, and finally, it fills the pockmarks.
To attain maximum results, go for follow-up treatments as suggested by the dermatologist. Although this is a pretty safe process, you may experience redness and irritation for some days.
Pockmarks on the face are the effect of acne and other bacterial infections. There are several remedies known to reduce their appearance on the skin. But do remember, most of them need a trained and experienced professional to do them and require several sittings.