Can Chicken Pox Scars be Removed?

STARTING this month, we are selecting our favourite beauty subscriber’s questions on the Ask A Dermatologist segment to win a Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals sampler vial.

Congratulations @angeljkate, whose question on chicken pox scars – reproduced below, has been picked as a favourite by Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist practising at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre.

Is it possible for post chicken pox marks to be removed or completely vanished? – @angeljkate

Chicken Pox Scars are divided primarily into 2 major types

  1. Post Inflammation Hyperpigmentation
  2. Indented or “varioliform” type scars

For type 1 scars, these tend to fade over the course of 6 months up to 2 years after the infection blows over, and tend not to cause many problems. If you find yourself having scars after chicken pox or even acne, here’s a DIY approach I recommend you can try first.

Advantages of Cosmeceutical Skincare over regular cosmetic skincare

Cosmeceuticals that contain scar lightening ingredients such as oligopeptides, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) derivatives, phyto (plant-derived) anti-oxidants like Centella Asiatica, on top of the power moisturising molecule ceramide, all promote skin health in the healing process and reduce chances of developing bad scarring. Moisturising with a dermatologist-recommended moisturiser, a brightening emulsion like the Radiance Fluide Hydrating Emulsion does give your skin the moisture it needs without the overly greasy feeling of creams, especially over the face in humid Singapore, and it goes well under makeup too.

There is such a thing as an ideal sunscreen – here’s what to look out for

Never forget sunblock, and just remember that most cosmetic sunscreens do not meet dermatologist’s requirements for adequate sun protection, meaning against skin cancers and prevention of debilitating pigmentary and sun-aggravated skin conditions.

Three key features of a proper sunscreen that dermatologists would use themselves:

  1. Formulated in laboratories and brand’s clinical experience working with accredited dermatologists for purposes of skin cancer and pigmentation concerns
  2. SPF 30 minimum for a realistic amount of sun protection
  3. Broad spectrum coverage meaning both UVA and UVB cover. UVA is predominantly involved in skin ageing and pigment darkening whereas UVB also has additional dangerous effects of increasing the risks of skin cancer.

All scars turn darker with increased sun exposure, ultraviolet radiation triggers the production of melanin leading to darkened pigmentation in existing scars.

The key thing to look for in sunscreens is the SPF factor, which stands for Sun Protection Factor. Let’s say your skin typically begins to burn after 30 minutes in full sun, an SPF 30 sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. Dermatologists would recommend a minimum of SPF 30 although my prescription is SPF 50 given our equatorial location in Singapore and the fact that most people often under-apply sunscreen.

Skin cleansing matters

A gentle skin cleanser, and one with mild anti-bacterial properties such as the Miel Honey™ Cleanser, helps to cleanse skin and reduce skin surface bacteria growth that may introduce secondary infections while nursing the chicken pox infection. It also is a natural humectant, which means it traps moisture under the skin to prevent dehydration during the cleansing process. For the body, use a calming oatmeal-based cleanser if available to you during the recovery period.

Visit an accredited dermatologist

Most chicken pox scars that remain bothersome are of type 2. This is a type of scar left by intense dermal inflammation typical in infected or more severe cases of chicken pox. They do not resolve by themselves once it appears within 2 years of the infection. Treatment would require fractional skin resurfacing, such as carbon dioxide or CO2 laser resurfacing, after assessment and recommendation by an accredited dermatologist. Other options exist, such as subcision and filler injections to smoothen the skin surface.

If you have had chickenpox infection and are suffering from deeper scars that are affecting your self-esteem, don’t despair, give the above methods a try. You may also consider a discussion with a dermatologist to get a proper assessment of the option of laser treatments and a review of options.

Dr. Teo Wan Lin

Consultant Dermatologist

TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre