What Are Pitted Acne Scars?
Pitted acne scars, sometimes called pockmarks, are the result of acne or chickenpox. They occur when skin can’t regenerate tissue, leaving a dent in the skin. Pitted acne scars may be rolling, boxcar, or ice pick scars depending on their shape and depth. Pitted acne scars may also look like holes or indentations.
What Causes Pitted Acne Scars?
Pitted scars are caused by acne, but not all acne results in pitted acne scars. So what causes pitted acne scars? As mentioned above, pitted acne scars occur when damaged skin can’t regenerate tissue. This is one scenario. Another is that the acne-damaged skin does create new tissue, but this new tissue does not match the old tissue, making the skin appear uneven.
Another cause of pitted scars is infectious disease like chickenpox. Chickenpox causes small itchy blisters. When a person itches the blister before they heal, a scab may form, leaving a scar.
What Does Collagen Have To Do With It?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. Collagen is in the connective tissue in our skin, hair, joints, bones, muscles, and more. There are at least 28 different types of collagen, but it is types I and III that provide structure to the skin, muscles, and ligaments, while type II is found in cartilage and eyes.
The body naturally makes its own collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. Collagen is “the glue that holds the body together,” says New York dermatologist Whitney Bowl, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant From the Inside Out.
Benefits of Collagen
Your body makes less collagen as you get older, which results in sagging skin and fine lines. For centuries, Chinese women have viewed collagen as a fountain of youth. In the Chinese culture many collagen containing foods are a mainstay of the “beauty” diet for smooth skin and aging joints.
Collagen is also a powerful wound healer. One study of 89 long-term care residents with pressure ulcers found that those who took collagen supplements three times daily for eight weeks saw their wounds heal twice as fast.
What Can a Collagen Cream Do?
Here’s the thing: collagen is a big, braid-like amino acid. Can it really penetrate the skin? Probably not. But don’t give up on collagen creams yet. There is a way of breaking down the peptides that may still allow collagen creams to be effective.
John Zampella, M.D. at NYU Langone, explained that hydrolyzed collagen broken down into these smaller peptides can “traverse the skin cells in your outer skin barrier and make their way into the dermis, essentially providing the building blocks for fibroblasts to make new collagen.”
Collagen Boosting Cream for Pitted Scars
There are dozens of creams on the market claiming to boost the production of collagen. Some like Asataxanthin are packed with vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamin C is well-regarded for its ability to brighten dull skin and lighten brown spots. Vitamin E is known for its antioxidant and skin protecting properties. It isn’t clear what the collagen improving ingredient in this formula is.
Another popular cream for collagen boosting is L’Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler. Many of the reviews for this cream point out that the cream is very heavy but does not make the skin feel greasy. It seems that this cream does not actually boost collagen production but improves your skin’s moisture, making fine lines less noticeable.
The Mario Badescu Elasto-Collagen Night Cream also claims to plump skin and smooth the look of fine lines. This collagen cream is enriched with collagen proteins and also contains the antioxidants vitamins A and E. Like the creams above, it seems to work by improving your skin’s level of moisture, not necessarily by increasing collagen production.
Other Active Ingredients For Smoothing Skin
When choosing a collagen cream to help erase pitted acne scars, you’ll want to choose one packed with protein and other potent antioxidants like the ones above, but also consider other ingredients that will help to exfoliate away dead skin cells.
Ingredients like beta hydroxy acid will help minimize the appearance of scars by turning over dead skin cells more quickly. Glycol acids are another ingredient that helps encourage the turnover of skin cells to reveal brighter, fresher skin. Retinol is another ingredient that will help improve the evenness of skin.
An Ounce of Prevention
Don’t forget about prevention. Wearing sunscreen is vital to maintaining the skin you have after the scars are formed.
Dermatologist Alternatives to Collagen Creams
If collagen cream or a doctor-prescribed retinol don’t work on your pitted acne scars, there are other dermatologist provided treatments that will help. Some examples are lasers and micro-needling and microdermabrasion.
Laser Resurfacing to Boost Collagen
Laser resurfacing is an anti-aging procedure that does double duty, promoting collagen production and helping with acne scars.
Non-ablative lasers promote collagen production while ablative laser treatments work to remove skin layers. There are some risks associated with ablative lasers, but when done with a skilled dermatologist the results can be long-lasting.
Micro-Needling to Boost Collagen
Micro-needling is another treatment that helps trigger the production of collagen and elastin. With micro-needling, fine needles puncture the top layer of the skin, creating microscopic holes and creating the skin’s response.
Microdermabrasion to Boost Collagen
Finally, if collagen boosting creams don’t work to improve the appearance of pitted acne scars, you may want to try a procedure called microdermabrasion. With microdermabrasion there are little or no side effects. With that, the effects are more subtle too. This treatment will help to reveal smoother, more toned skin. And isn’t that what we all want?