An acne scar is scarring of the skin at the site of the acne after it has healed. These scars can develop with any type of acne (mild, moderate, and severe forms) but normally appear in severe nodulocystic forms due to the massive inflammation. About 95% of the people with acne vulgaris develop acne scars. This indicates how common they are.
They are more prone to develop on the acne-prone areas of the skin such as the face, neck, chest, back, and buttocks.
Due to the scarring of the skin, the scars, especially the ones on the face have a deep impact on the psyche of the person, especially during adolescence and teenage because they mar one’s appearance. 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 the deep scars formed as a result of severe forms of acne can be quite stubborn and will need treatment. However, safe and effective treatments are available. The treatment varies depending on the type of acne scar you have developed
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 and the acne marks usually disappear as the acne clears up.
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 gets infected by the bacteria present on the surface of the skin and which enter the hair follicles.
The engorged and 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 begins to clear, the skin starts producing collagen and elastic tissue to repair and fill the damage caused to the skin tissue,
This damage control 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. It is 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 the acne when it first presents. But certain factors make you more prone to develop the scars.
- Any person who has severe inflammatory acne such as nodular and cystic type can develop scars. Due to the depth of the lesion, the damage to the skin is more.
- You increase the risk of developing scars if you squeeze or pick your pimples.
- Delay in the treatment
- 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.