You've been told not to pick a pimple, and now you know why: acne scars. These battle wounds of youth cover the cheeks and chin, leaving ice pick holes, grapefruit-textured skin and discolorations. Worse yet, it's not just your face that gets scarred. Signs of acne past can give your self-esteem its own scarring. When money is tight, one method of healing scars is to use ice. But does this old home remedy really work?
When we get a sprain or strain, the first thing we're told to do is to alternate ice and heat on the affected area. Ice helps reduce the swelling, true. But ice also shrinks blood vessels while heat stimulates blood flow. Alternate treatments of ice and heat cause blood that is rich in oxygen to speed healing and carry infection away. In the same way, when we ice down acne-infected skin and scars, the oxygen also helps to gently heal the scar tissue.
Unfortunately, this type of treatment won't help deep-pitted scars such as the ice pick scars. Ice is most beneficial in the early stages of scarring, when acne inflammation is still present on your face. Icing your face by rubbing the flat side of ice against the inflamed areas for 15 minutes at a time during this stage will minimize scarring, help reduce inflammation and help the eruption heal. Later, icing your scars will gradually reduce the appearance of minor scars and discoloration.
Additionally, ice can be used to reduce the pain of inflamed acne, which will help reduce the likelihood of picking or prodding the inflamed tissue and causing scarring later. Ice can also tighten pores, which reduces the rate of infection as well as gives skin an even texture. Although this will not heal scars, this even texture can help to improve the appearance of skin and temporarily hide scars.