If you’re reading this your active acne is probably starting to reduce (yay!) but you’re worried about being left with scars. Scarring of the skin tends to happen when there is damage to the skin during the healing process from acne. If you still have active acne, these steps can still help to reduce breakouts and help to speed up the regeneration of the skin.
To heal wounds our body goes through 3 main stages:
- Inflammation (acute inflammation is essential for healing wounds, it’s chronic inflammation that becomes a problem)
- The rebuilding of new tissues
- The remodelling stage where the wound fully heals. Imbalances at the remodelling stage can interfere with collagen production and tissue formation which can lead to acne scarring.
Ok, so how can you help and speed up this process?
1. Get your micronutrients!
To support healing you need to be giving your immune system and your skin cells the nutrients they need. These include:
Vitamin A – low levels of vitamin A affect collagen production and the remodelling stages of the skin. If you’re using retinol on your skin already, they are made from vitamin A. So make sure you’re feeding your skin from the inside with vitamin A rich foods:
Liver, eggs and red, yellow & orange coloured fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D – known as the sunshine vitamin, but it’s actually a hormone. Vitamin D is SO important for immune function. It helps to regulate inflammation, promotes wound healing, repairs the skin barrier and skin tissue. The best way to get vitamin D is from sunlight. If you always wear suncream it can decrease the amount of vitamin D you make from the sun. If you have sensitive skin or live somewhere with lower sun exposure you may want to consider a supplement. Always test your vitamin D levels before supplementing. The following foods have very small amounts of vitamin D:
Salmon, eggs and mushrooms
Vitamin C – Another ingredient in a lot of skincare. A powerful antioxidant that is essential for collagen formation. Foods include:
Strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwis, bell peppers and spinach
Zinc – People with acne have been found to have lower levels of Zinc. Zinc is another essential mineral for immune health and helps at all stages of wound healing. Zinc helps to protect against infections in the inflammatory stage and helps to build collagen in the rebuilding stage. Topical application of Zinc has also been found to improve wound healing. Zinc-rich foods:
Oysters, meats, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas and mushrooms.
Iron – but only if you’re anaemic!
Iron is needed to transport oxygen to tissues. If you are anaemic increasing your iron intake may help with increased collagen production and stronger wound repair due to supporting oxygenation to the tissues. Always test your iron levels before considering supplementation. Iron-rich foods:
Meat (more effectively absorbed by the body), apricots, spinach and legumes.
Protein is needed to create, maintain and repair skin tissue. If your protein intake is too low your skin may suffer. The skin is made up of 75-80% collagen. When it comes to protein intake always focus on quality over quantity. Eating a varied diet helps to make sure you get all the amino acids you need to meet your protein requirements. You should be aiming to get a source of protein with every meal. This includes meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. If you are vegan or vegetarian you may need to add in a protein powder.
2. Lifestyle factors:
Exercise is needed to support oxygenation to the skin to make sure all these nutrients are reaching the skin to aid with healing. Exercise also helps to reduce stress levels which can interfere with the natural healing process of the skin and break down collagen.
When we sleep our body restores and repairs damaged tissues.Getting poor quality sleep can delay wound healing time, disrupt the skin barrier and reduce skin integrity. I have a full blog post on sleep and how to get better, restorative sleep.
3. Topical Treatments
Seeking advice from a dermatologist or facialist will be beneficial in finding what topical treatment is best for you. Chemical peels, fillers, microneedling, laser treatment and LED light therapy can all help with the healing of acne scars and supporting a smoother skin texture.
- Nutrition and Chronic Wounds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217039/pdf/wound.2014.0530.pdf
- Food and wounds: nutritional factors in wound formation and healing https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/pdf/10.12968/bjcn.2002.7.Sup2.12981
- Impediments to wound healing https://www.americanjournalofsurgery.com/article/S0002-9610(98)00184-6/abstract
- Vitamin D and the skin: Focus on a complex relationship: A review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642156/
- Acne Scars: Pathogenesis, Classification and Treatment https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958495/
- Malnutrition in the institutionalized elderly: The effects on wound healing https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15509882/
- Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793244/pdf/nutrients-10-00016.pdf
- Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120804/
- Role of Micronutrients in Skin Health and Function https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
- Impact of sleep restriction on local immune response and skin barrier restoration with and without “multi-nutrient” nutrition intervention https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00547.2017
- Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels