With so many scar treatment options to select from it’s impossible to know which scar treatments work and which ones are safe. With regards to dark scars and hyperpigmented skin blemishes (like brown spots and dark acne scars), a handful of options are available:
1) Hydroquinone (HQ)
2) Kojic acid
3) Vitamin C
4) Licorice extract and other natural scar treatments
Hydroquinone is considered by many to be the gold standard treatment for hyperpigmented skin lesions and dark scars. Long-term use may be related to unwanted effects however and due to this, some countries have restricted the sale of hydroquinone. One potential side effect is Ochronosis which can lead to permanent hyperpigmentation, impaired wound healing and decreased skin elasticity. Hydroquinone may also cause nail discoloration and even contact dermatitis.
Like hydroquinone, kojic acid is effective in fading dark scars, brown spots and even melasma. Unfotunately, some studies suggest that skin exposed to kojic acid regularly becomes more sensitive. Skin sensitization is bad because it might probably lead to allergic contact dermatitis. Like hydroquinone, kojic acid doesn’t improve some other aspect of scar healing other than the dark pigment.
Various types of vitamin C have been shown to fade hyperpigmentation effectively without the uncomfortable side effects related to hydroquinone or kojic acid. L-ascorbic acid and other vitamin C esters also normalize collagen production after skin injury, resulting in more organized collagen formation closer to that seen in normal, uninjured skin. This makes vitamin C an excellent scar treatment generally. Brown or dark yellow vitamin C skin care products must be avoided though. The coloring is used to disguise the fact that the vitamin C becomes unstable over time, oxidizes and becomes completely ineffective (vitamin C turns brown as it oxidizes). Products using STABLE vitamin C are typically white as there isn’t a fear of the vitamin C becoming oxidized and ineffective.
Like vitamin C, licorice also makes a wonderful scar treatment: it has strong anti-inflammatory properties and accelerates skin renewal. Both vitamin C and licorice inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation with sun exposure and skin injury. Interestingly, licorice boosts the scar lightening effects of vitamin C so the two needs to be combined for best results. As a bonus, licorice also has anti-acne effects (both prevention and treatment).
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