Acne scar management and treatment: a review of the options
Although cosmetic and dermatological in nature, scarring from acne vulgaris can have a huge psychosocial impact on patients and merits its own treatment and management strategy. There is a plethora of modalities for the treatment of acne scarring, each with their own unique benefits and adverse effects; as such, it is critical to have an overview of the available options when consulting with patients to enable appropriate and effective person-centred treatment. Here, Francesca Ramadan discusses a selection of treatment modalities, providing evidence of their efficacy and reviewing their suitability for a range of scar presentations.
June marks the beginning of Acne Awareness Month 2023, during which dermatologic and aesthetic medicine organisations aim to reduce stigma, spread awareness and elucidate possible treatment options for this common skin condition. Acne vulgaris is a chronic skin condition that, depending on its course, is characterised by the occurrence of skin eruptions, such as open and closed comedones, pustules, papules, and cysts; it is also one of the most common skin conditions globally, affecting more than 80% of adolescents, 50–60% of women aged 20–25 years, and 12% of women over 25 years (Chilicka et al, 2022). Alongside acne itself, the scarring resulting from the condition, which ranges in severity, is also a frequent presentation at clinics, estimated to affect clinically 55% of patients with acne (Tan et al, 2021). Acne merits its own treatment and management strategy, especially as scarring is associated with impaired psychosocial functioning and quality of life. Some 25.7% of Tan et al's (2021) cross-sectional survey participants felt less attractive or were embarrassed or self-conscious because of their scars; furthermore, 8.3% reported being regularly verbally and/or physically abused because of their scars, and 43.2% felt that their scars had negatively impacted their relationships (Tan et al, 2021). Thus, when consulting with a patient, it is imperative to correctly identify the type of scarring and consider patient-related factors, to thereby select the appropriate treatment modality to achieve the best possible results and alleviate any potential psychological distress they may experience.
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