Chickenpox, or varicella, is a highly contagious illness that is characterized by itchy, spotty rash. It is caused by varicella zoster virus and, although more common among children; it can as well occur in adults. Chickenpox begins as a red rash with characteristic raised spots. This then turns into itchy blisters which then scab and crust over. Some few cases of serious chickenpox infection leave behind deep scars, especially in adults. These can be pretty pesky, especially if they occur on the face. Here we explore some chicken pox scar removal treatments and home remedies.
Will Chicken Pox Scars Go Away?
- 1 Will Chicken Pox Scars Go Away?
- 2 Chicken Pox Scar Removal Surgery Options
- 3 Chicken Pox Scar Removal Cost
- 4 Chicken Pox Scar Removal Cream
- 5 Chicken Pox Scar Removal Home Remedies
- 6 Bio Oil for Chicken Pox Scars
- 7 How to Prevent Chicken Pox Scars on the Face
- 8 References
Chicken pox scars are usually atrophic, ranging from mild, less noticeable scars with a crater-like center to deep scars that are easily noticeable. The scars tend to appear more prominently in cases of chicken pox involving adults. This is especially true for adults with a weakened immune system as well as those who have never been vaccinated.
Chickenpox scars usually fade away slowly over time. The exact times it takes for them to go away completely varies from a few months (usually six months thereabout) to many years. Some scars may, however, never fade away completely, remaining noticeable many years later. There are various ways in which you can get rid of such scars. These are discussed below.
Chicken Pox Scar Removal Surgery Options
As already mentioned, chicken pox scars are usually depressed and pockmark like in appearance. Not surprisingly, some people refer to them to as chickenpox holes. The scars belong to a type of scars known as boxcar scars. Sometimes, there is some hyperpigmentation (dark spots) on the surrounding skin. Several surgical chicken pox scar removal options exist.
The appropriateness of each surgical intervention depends on factors such as the location of the scar, depth, and hyperpigmentation. A combination treatment is often necessary to effectively improve the appearance of chicken pox scars. Some of the most commonly used surgical removal options are:
1. Surgical Excision
Punch excision is a popular chicken pox scar removal and reduction surgery. This involves the use of a punch biopsy tool (a small instrument that looks like a cookie cutter) to punch out the scar under local anesthesia. The area is then stitched together with very fine sutures. To avoid the appearance of stitch marks once the area heals, the dermatologist or surgeon will remove the sutures just a few days later.
According to Dr. Davin Lim, a dermatologist based in Brisbane, Australia, punch excision is best suited for removal of one or more chicken pox scars. Fillers may be better suited for cases involving more scars, he says.
Other Punch Excision Variations
Nelson Lee Novick, MD, a New York-based Dermatologic Surgeon, suggests punch elevation and punch grafting as other possible ways to treat chicken pox scars.
- Punch elevation. This entails the removal of chicken pox scars under local anesthesia just as with punch excision. In this case, however, the scar is not pulled out completely but instead lifted to the surface of the skin. Once in place, it is then attached to the skin. This may be later followed by dermabrasion or Dermaplaning to improve the texture of the plug and blend the tone with the surrounding healthy skin.
- Punch grafting. Also handy in getting rid of chicken pox scars, this procedure also entails punching out the scar, but this time, the scar is replaced by a skin graft obtained from behind the ear. This healthy skin graft is either taped in or glued into place.
For removal of deep chicken pox scars that have not faded years later, your dermatologist or surgeon may consider subcision. Also known as subcutaneous incisional surgery, subcision is a minor and safe surgical procedure used for the treatment of not only depressed scars – such as those associated with chicken pox – but also wrinkles and cellulite dimples.
During this procedure, a special needle is inserted through the skin and used to break the fibrous tissue band that is anchoring the scar to the underlying tissue. As a result, the tissue overlying the scar becomes free and “elevate” closer to the surface of the skin. This coupled with the formation of new collagen as the wound heals helps reduce the appearance of the scars if not get rid of them completely.
For best results, especially where larger chicken pox scars are involved, surgeons often combine subcision with other treatments such as medical microneedling (dermaroller), laser resurfacing, and scar revision. It may also be necessary to repeat the procedure several times achieve optimal results.
3. Fillers for Chicken Pox Scar Removal
Speaking of how to get rid of chicken pox scars, fillers also come out as one commonly used surgical option. Fillers can be done alone or alongside other procedures such as subcision, laser resurfacing, and chemical peels.
As the name suggests, fillers help to get rid of chicken pox scars by filling out their characteristic depressions. Your surgeon or dermatologist will typically inject a biostimulatory filler. Radiesse is a popular choice. Fillers instantly fills the depression in the scar making it less noticeable. Also, they promote the production of new collagen in the scarred area of the face (or any other part of the body).
Fillers such as Radiesse provide a temporary solution since they are progressively removed by the body’s metabolic system. While permanent fillers exist, most surgeons argue against using them. This is because such fillers cannot be broken down should problems such as lumps (or even nodules and granulomas that can develop years later) arise.
In case such complications occurred after injection with fillers such as Radiesse, all your surgeon or dermatologist would have to do is dissolve the filler out by injecting a saline solution.
For permanent chicken pox scar removal, fillers are not your best choice. You may, instead, want to consider other treatments such as subcision.
4. Microdermabrasion for Chicken Pox Scars
Microdermabrasion is also frequently suggested as a possible surgical solution for chicken pox marks.
During this procedure, small, abrasive device is used to remove the upper layers of the skin, which then gives way for regeneration of new, healthy, skin cells. This helps to make the scar on your face less noticeable, if not go away completely.
Dermabrasion is associated with bleeding and acute pain after the surgery. It can also cause hyperpigmentation in the treatment area. In situations where treatment involves a larger area of the skin, local anesthesia is usually used.
Although microdermabrasion is a viable treatment option for long-standing chicken pox scars, it is only effective “for the most superficial scarring” as Dr. Novick says. It would thus give less desirable aesthetic benefits for most severe scars if used alone. The same is true for other resurfacing procedures such as chemical peels and lasers.
5. Can Laser Resurfacing Help to Get Rid of Chicken Pox Scars?
Laser resurfacing involves the use of laser technology to stimulate the production of normal, native collagen on the site of scarring.
Although it doesn’t cause bleeding or leave behind a wound, as is the case with microdermabrasion, laser resurfacing is usually not effective for most chicken pox scars. These tend to be too deep for lasers to be useful. If laser treatment is used without releasing the scar tissue beneath the surface of the skin, there is a high chance that the scar will still be indented compared with the other areas of the skin.
The procedure is, instead, typically used as a secondary treatment after procedures, such as punch excision and subcision, have been performed. Some scars that are not too deep may, however, show significant improvement with laser resurfacing only.
One major downside of laser treatment is its tendency to leave behind temporary hyperpigmentation. According to Benjamin Barankin, MD, a Dermatologic Surgeon based in Toronto, fading creams can help to get rid of the hyperpigmentation. Also, you may have to undergo a few sessions before to attain optimum results.
Chicken Pox Scar Removal Cost
Your surgeon will determine the most appropriate surgical option to get rid of chicken pox scars depending on the location as well as the nature of the scarring. As for the cost of the surgery option chosen, that will vary from one procedure to the other.
Whether or not more than one procedure will be used, and the number of sessions required for each will also go into determining the cost of treatment. The location is also an important variable in pricing. All in all, the cost will vary between $50 and $950 for the majority of cases.
Chicken Pox Scar Removal Cream
If looking for a cream that may help to soften the scars and spots that occur on your face, or any other part of the body, years after a breakout of chicken pox, you may want to try one of the various over-the-counter scar creams and gels available. Silicone-based scar removal creams are an especially good place to start.
If you are into Ayurvedic medicine, you may as well want to test a cream called Agnijith. Developed by Pathanjali Herbal Extracts Ltd in India, this cream is touted to be effective for treatment of not only chicken pox scars and the associated dark spots, but also burn wounds.
If your cream of choice doesn’t help to get rid of the scars, you may then want to talk to a dermatologist about other options that are available to remove deep chicken pox scars, such as excision and subcision (discussed above).
Chicken Pox Scar Removal Home Remedies
When it comes to chicken pox scars, time is the ultimate healer. Most scars and spots will naturally fade away and probably go away. You may, however, get concerned about scars and spots that have been on your face – say on the forehead or nose – a little too long, and want to take some proactive measures to reduce their appearance. If that is the case, you may want to try one of the home remedies highlighted below:
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water has a robust taste, which makes it a great refreshment for a hot, sunny afternoon. Other than that, it is a great natural remedy for chicken pox scars. To start with, coconut water is packed full of skin nourishing nutrients, notable among them being lauric acid and cytokines. These two components are claimed to help to maintain an optimal growth of skin cells while maintaining the connective tissues in the skin.
Did you know that coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid which makes it great for treatment of acne?
Here is how to get rid of chicken pox scars with coconut water:
- Add two glasses of coconut water to a bathtub of warm water.
- Soak in the water for 10-15 minutes.
- Repeat this process every other day for best results.
Applying coconut water directly to the chicken pox holes can also be beneficial. Some people also find drinking coconut water helpful.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is a popular home remedy for skin ailments ranging from acne to burns. It can as well help to reduce the appearance of those pesky deep, old chicken pox scars that steal from your self-confidence. It is not only richly moisturizing to the skin but also healing and soothing, thanks to its abundance of phytochemicals.
To remove chicken pox scars, follow these steps:
- Apply aloe vera sap from a freshly plucked leaf (or an OTC gel) on your face.
- Massage it gently in circular motions for 3 minutes.
- Give the gel time to dry. At this point, the area of treatment will feel tight.
- Wash the aloe vera gel off with cool water.
- Use this remedy 3-4 times for a couple of weeks to effectively get rid of chicken pox scars.
3. Vitamin E Oil for Chicken Pox Scar Removal
Vitamin E oil is widely touted to be a potential cure for chicken pox holes. Proponents of this remedy say that it promotes collagen formation in the scarred area of skin which helps to restore skin texture and tone. It is also claimed to have the added help keep the skin moisturized while fighting off harmful radicals that cause wrinkles, thanks to its abundance of antioxidants. Vitamin E oil is widely available in the form of capsules.
Below is how to remove chicken pox holes on the face with vitamin E oil:
- Pop a capsule of vitamin E capsule directly on the scarred area of the face.
- Massage the oil in gently for a minute.
- Repeat twice daily for the best skin healing effect.
4. DIY Cream for Chicken Pox Scars
An alternative way to use vitamin E oil for chicken pox scar removal is to prepare a homemade cream by mixing with cocoa butter, coconut oil, and lemon essential oil. Below is a guideline on how to do that:
- In a small saucepan placed over low heat, add 12 tablespoonfuls of coconut oil.
- Add ½ teaspoon of cocoa butter and stir thoroughly until the mixture gets well-blended.
- Remove the saucepan from heat, then pour in 2 tablespoons of vitamin E oil and ½ teaspoon of lemon essential oil.
- Give the mixture time to cool down and solidify.
- Apply 3-4 times to get rid of chicken pox scars.
Papaya is also claimed to help reduce the appearance of chicken pox marks on the face. It is rich in papain, an enzyme that exfoliates the skin, thus reducing the appearance of dark spots. It is also thought to promote collagen formation which then helps to repair and make chicken pox scars less noticeable.
To use papaya for chicken pox scar removal, follow the steps below:
- To a cup of mashed, fresh papaya, add five tablespoons each of milk and brown sugar.
- Mix the ingredients thoroughly until well blended.
- Apply the paste to chicken pox scar afflicted area of the face, while massaging gently in circular motion.
- Leave the mixture on for 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse your face with cool water.
- Repeat this home remedy regularly for best results.
While none of these chicken pox scar remedies will completely cure the scarring, you may notice a marked improvement after using them for some time. If none of them work for you, though, you may want to consult with a dermatologist.
Bio Oil for Chicken Pox Scars
Does Bio Oil work for chicken pox scars? That is a question you may have seen severally in forums.
While some medical practitioners don’t think that Bio Oil – and indeed any other oil, including vitamin E oil – can reduce the appearance of chicken pox scars given the fact that they are typically deep, some people in forums will swear to its effectiveness in getting rid of deep, old chicken pox scars.
If you want to try Bio Oil yourself and see the results, apply it to the affected areas of the face twice a day after cleansing thoroughly with soap and warm water.
How to Prevent Chicken Pox Scars on the Face
You can prevent getting chicken pox scars by letting the rash run its course. You will want to refrain from picking at the scabs, puncturing the blisters, and scratching the affected area of the skin as the rash heals. This is easy said than done since chickenpox rash is usually very itchy. You can, nevertheless, increase your odds by using the following tips:
- Apply calamine lotion to soothe the skin.
- Apply ice cubes to the affected area of the skin. Wrap them in a towel to prevent ice burn.
- Pour a handful of uncooked oats into a washcloth or muslin bag, then run lukewarm water over it. Squeeze the bag gently over the affected area of the face. You will find the white milky substance that oozes out very soothing.
- For babies, scratch mitts may come in handy in the prevention of scratching, which then increases the risk of scarring.
- Dermatologic Therapy Journal: Sequential treatment with intradermal incision (intracision) and 2,940-nm Er:YAG laser for chicken pox scars
- MedlinePlus: Chickenpox
- NCBI: Acne Scar Subcision
- New Zealand Dermatological Society: Subcision
- RealSelf.com: 4 Deep Chickenpox Scars
- RealSelf.com: Treatment for Facial Chicken Pox Scars?