Treatment of Acne Scars with Glycolic Acid

When an area of the skin has become inflamed due to acne, the skin can actually change in texture and appearance and scarring can be the unfortunate result. The three types of acne scars are:

  • Atrophic
  • Hypertrophic
  • Ice Pick

Atrophic looks like pits in the skin, the borders surrounding the pits are smooth. Hypertrophic scars are lumpy and thick and sit above the skin. Ice pick scars have steep edges and are deep within the surface of the skin.

Even if the acne has healed the scars can remain for a long period of time. Many sufferers will often turn to a chemical peel to approve the appearance of their skin and the scars that reside, making the skin heal more quickly thanks to the help of glycolic acid.

Glycolic Acid and its Use

As described by the Derma Network, when glycolic acid is used in a chemical peel it causes the outer layer of the skin, otherwise referred to as the epidermis, to become superficially injured and ultimately peel.
Before the treatment is conducted the skin must first be cleaned, where a doctor will then decide on the level of strength of the glycolic acid. The solution of the chemical is gently spread over the skin with a cotton pad, a sponge or a special brush.

The chemical solution must remain on the skin for a few minutes in order to properly do its job, then it is washed off and the acid is neutralized. To treat any pain or burning that develops the doctor can choose to use a topical anesthetic, a cool compress or both.

3 Types of Peels

A patient can choose from three types of peels:

  • Superficial
  • Medium
  • Deep

In the case of a superficial chemical peel, according to West Virginia University, a concentration of 8-15 % of the glycolic acid is applied to the top layer of the skin. This solution will help to remove any dead skin cells and will also help to stimulate the new skin to regenerate.

When a medium peel is conducted the concentration is around 35%. The epidermis is injured and collagen becomes stimulated plumping up the appearance of the skin.

A deep glycolic acid peel has a higher concentration of 70% and will reach the dermis layer of the skin. A phenol solution is used in combination and has a drastic effect on the skin as it will also help to reduce scars, wrinkles, and other lines.

Healing After a Chemical Peel

If an individual receives a light chemical peel they can return to their daily life immediately after the procedure. A medium peel can take four to six weeks for the patient to recover, and discoloring of the skin may be a side effect.

A deep chemical peel can also take a month to heal, but the patient will need to wear bandages to help prevent air from coming in contact with the skin.

Why Glycolic Acid?

When a patient chooses glycolic acid, they can receive the treatment in less than an hour and it can be done in a doctor’s office; the results are visible in even one treatment. The treatment will also go a long way at showing improvement in the texture of the skin and make it appear smoother along with diminishing any scars.

Side Effects

For those who suffer from the herpes simplex virus, otherwise known as a cold sore, receiving a glycolic acid chemical peel can activate a dormant infection. A medium or a deep peel can block the skin’s pores and may also cause the skin to appear red. The skin is also more susceptible to other complications, such as changes in pigment and scarring.