An acne scar is scarring of the skin at the site of the acne after the acne has healed. Acne scars can develop with any type of acne but normally appear in severe forms of nodulocystic acne due to the massive inflammation. About 95% of the people with acne vulgaris develop acne scars. This indicates how common acne scars are.
Acne scars can develop on the acne prone areas of the skin such as the face, neck, chest, back and the buttocks.
Besides the scarring of the skin, acne scars, especially the facial ones have a deep impact on the psyche of the person, especially during adolescence and teenage. Depression can be a very serious side effect.
Untreated mild acne scars can fade away with time as the skin replenishes itself. This may take months or years depending on the amount of skin damage. But deep acne scars formed as a result of severe forms of acne can be quite stubborn and will need treatment. Safe and effective treatments are available.
Acne marks and acne scars
Acne marks form because of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation of the skin over the acne. In dark-colored people, they appear brown while in light-colored people they appear as a red or purple colored erythema. There is no scar tissue, which you see in acne scars. Acne marks usually disappear as the acne clears up.
How are acne scars produced?
Acne breakouts can penetrate deep into the skin and damage the dermal layer of the skin, which is the tissue beneath the surface of the skin. The acne get infected by the acne bacteria present on the surface of the skin and which enter the hair follicles. The blocked hair follicle filled with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria swells, and later bursts. The infected mix leaks out into the deep skin tissue, causing deeper lesions.
When the infection is controlled and the acne begin to clear, the skin starts producing collagen and elastic tissue to repair and fill the damage caused to the skin tissue,
This damage control result of the skin tissue does not look like the original skin. If the collagen produced is too much or too less, it causes scarring.
As you age, acne scars become more noticeable because the collagen forming capacity of the skin reduces.
Dark pigmentation of the acne scars is caused by the pigment called melanin. Melanin is deposited by the pigment-producing cells of the skin called melanocytes.
A dark-colored acne scar is, therefore, collagen fibers with the dark-colored pigment, melanin. Dark colored acne scars are more pronounced in dark-colored people.
Who is prone? Causes and risk factors
It is possible to prevent acne scars with prompt and effective treatment of your acne. But certain factors make you more prone to developing acne scars
- Any person who has severe inflammatory acne such as nodular and cystic acne can develop acne scars. Due to the depth of the acne lesion, the damage to the skin is more.
- You increase the risk of developing acne scars if you squeeze or pick your pimples.
- Delay in the treatment of acne increases scar formation risk.
- Your risk also increases with advanced age because you start losing skin dermal collagen at the rate of 1% every year after the age of 40 years.
- Any person, whose immediate blood relative has or had developed acne scars, is at an increased risk.