As we age, acne scars often become more noticeable because our skin loses collagen, and the scars become more prominent. The key to choosing an effective treatment for your acne scars is to select the particular type of treatment based on the exact type of scars that you have. Acne scars are not just located on the face and many patients suffer from these same scars on their back, chest, legs, arms and buttocks. The same types of treatments which are successful for treating acne and acne scars on the face are used by Dr. Michele Green in her NYC office to treat these types of body scars and marks.
The most common types of acne scars are ice pick scars, boxcar scars, rolling scars, atrophic scars, hypertrophic scars and hyperpigmented scars. Before undergoing treatment for acne scars, it is important to prevent further acne breakouts. The key to controlling acne is to understand the cause, whether it is genetic or hormonal and get the appropriate treatment. During your consultation with Dr. Green, she will do an in-depth analysis and blood work to determine the cause and best treatment for your acne.
Further active acne breakouts can lead to new acne scars. Having acne also means that your skin is inflamed. Inflammation reduces the effectiveness of treatment for acne scars. Once your acne is under control you can then treat your scars with the appropriate solution. Here we will look at how acne might occur in areas other than the face and options for treatment.
*Disclaimer: Results may vary with each patient.
Acne on the neck
Acne on the neck can account for 10-15% of cases and is triggered by a number of factors. And while the skin on one’s neck is a little tougher than the skin on the face, it is also less well maintained in most cases. Neck acne is also quite common in patients who play sports, due to the collection of sweat and use of equipment.
It also varies by skin tone too, for instance a popular recommendation for neck and back acne is to use Benzoyl Peroxide, but this can leave spots on the skin after the acne has been removed if you have Asian skin, certain Hispanic skin tones or light brown skin.
Another common version of neck acne is “cystic acne”, common with African American and Hispanic patients. In this case, the skin is very oily, trapping acne bacteria with an inflammation that causes the formation of a cyst.
The best solution may be a combination of chemical peels (for lighter skin types) or microneedling. For acne scar treatment, technologies such as the V-beam® Laser and the Fraxel® Dual laser also work very effectively.
Acne Scars on the back
The treatments for body based acne scars vary from lasers such as Ematrix, Fraxel and VBeam to bleaching creams with chemical peels or even PRP with microneedling. The key is to choose the best treatment based both on your skin type and type of acne scar.
One of the causes of acne in the back area, is “friction” acne, also known as “acne mechanica.” This is similar to the neck acne example where clothing, sporting equipment or jerseys trap sweat against the skin. The clothing breaks down the skin’s lining, while the trapped sweat causes bacteria to be stored inside. There are also hormonal and genetic causes for acne.
Despite being away from the face and neck areas, for body acne, many patients with darker skin types such as African, Hispanic, Asian, or Mediterranean skin have to be extremely careful about choosing the correct laser. This is because darker skin is more prone to hyperpigmentation and scarring. The eMatrix is a unique laser which is “color blind” and can safely treat all skin types.
Through radiofrequency technology, Dr. Green is able to deliver to controlled non-ablative fractional treatment for acne scars, stretch marks, enlarged pores and result in an improved tone and texture for your skin. Most patients who have scars on their back will need at least three treatments, each spaced about one month apart for the best cosmetic results. Patients will begin to see improvement after the first treatment and these positive results will continue to improve for up to one year post treatment.
Chest, Shoulders & Other body acne
Again, like the back acne issues noted above, many causes for shoulder and chest acne are from patients who work out or wear tight clothing that interferes with the area such as shoulder pads or even bra straps. Other causes can include medication allergies and in some rare cases swimming pool chemicals.
In addition to eMatrix, other options for body acne treatment include microdermabrasion or chemical peels. In some cases, a few sessions using the Fraxel® Dual laser is recommended. The Fraxel® laser utilizes Fractional Resurfacing Technology in which only a portion of the skin actually receives the laser light. With this technology, the laser delivers a series of closely spaced microscopic laser spots to the skin while simultaneously preserving normal healthy skin between the laser spots. Topical anesthetic is a must for this procedure as it is slightly painful for patients.
V-beam is the gold standard for “keloid” or red acne scars on the back and shoulders. V-beam® laser treatment can significantly reduce both inflammatory acne and non-inflammatory acne. Generally, a series of three to six session of Vbeam® laser treatments are performed at four week intervals. Raised or hypertrophic scarring are best treated with the V-Beam laser with a combination of intralesional cortisone injections to smooth out these scars. Red stretch marks can also be treated effectively with this same technology.
Acne on the Buttocks
The initial myth we should dispel here is that while one can get pimples on their buttocks, this is actually not acne – and is not like the acne you may get on your face, chest or back. Acne-like bumps on the buttocks are caused by folliculitis, blockage of or inflammation of hair follicles via bacteria, fungus or yeast.
Having acne elsewhere in your body does not affect your risk of having either folliculitis or clusters of boils, known as “carbuncles” in the buttock area. And to make sure you get the right treatment, it is worth discussing your symptoms and issues with a dermatologist such as Dr. Green.
Acne on the hands
Last but not least, we occasionally get inquiries about small areas of pimples, acne and short term acne scars on the hands. However, this is usually due to a heat rash or hives, which comes with small bumps and raised lumps accompanied with an itch. This is usually due to contact with certain plants, something eaten or an allergic reaction.
Other causes overall can include ingrown hairs, skin irritation to weather or clothing, or even where you live. For instance, urban residents are likely to have more acne issues than those living in clear climates away from the air pollution.