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How do acne scars form?

20th September 2018

Beating acne feels incredible, but the scarring afterwards doesn’t. It can diminish your victory over the skin condition, which is a shame because everyone should feel confident in their skin. Acne scarring seems permanent, but it actually isn’t. There are treatments available that can soften it, but where do acne scars even come from in the first place? Why do they occur? We could treat more than you realise in post-acne skin, but first let’s explore why acne scars form


Why do acne scars form?

When you have acne, your skin goes into trauma and inflames. When spots and pustules become infected or particularly swollen, this stresses the skin before the spot pops. When this happens, the skin reacts quickly to close off this wound to protect you from the risk of infection. It over-produces skin cells and collagen to over-compensate for closing the sore, which unfortunately cause pitted or dimpled acne scars. This is because the collagen fibres and skin cells don’t knit together properly, their first priority being to close the skin before closing the skin properly and in a controlled manner.


Acne scarring also occurs when these spots swell with the oil produced. After a particularly aggressive bout of acne, these larger spots can stretch the hair follicles they form in. Because the skin can’t heal itself properly, it forms pitted scars. This is also why you shouldn’t pop your acne spots or pick at them when they do form, because the skin is already distressed and forcing the spot to burst before its ready will only heighten the chances of scarring in the area.


Do acne scars change your skin tone?

A common misconception of acne scarring is that they only take the form of pitted dimples, but they also appear as hyperpigmentation. This characterises itself as patchy pigmentation of darker, though sometimes lighter, areas of skin tone. This occurs because when the skin is inflamed, which causes the body to respond by producing melanin which pigments the skin. Because this process happens quickly to protect us, this melanin isn’t always the same colour as our skin tone. The skin is prohibited from achieving the healthy glow it deserves because the skin tone is uneven and blotchy. It may just be darker patches of skin tone, but some scarring can appear purple, red, or pink in lieu of scar tissue. Creams and serums are available to combat this redness, though IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments are more effective for persistent and stubborn red marks left by acne spots.


How do you treat acne scars?

One treatment that is particularly effective at treating acne scars is microneedling. This treatment uses tiny needles that puncture the skin, creating miniscule needle columns that close almost as soon as they open. The punctures stimulate the skin’s natural healing powers, generating fresh skin cells and collagen in a much more controlled manner. By damaging the superficial scarred cells, the body works to expel these cells and replace them with fresh and healthy ones. This evens out mild acne scarring and improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation too. A course of 3-6 sessions, repeated 4-6 weekly are usually recommended to see some results.


Laser resurfacing targets both the superficial skin and the deeper layers, stimulating skin cell renewal to improve the appearance of pitted or dimpled acne scars. The overall skin quality and texture is improved in the area, smoothing acne scarring and promoting a healthy appearance. Much like microneedling, it stimulates the skin to heal and refresh from the inside-out to better the appearance of acne scarring. A course of 3-6 sessions, repeated every 4-6 weekly are usually recommended to see some results.


For particularly deep, ice-pick scars, punch excisions are performed under local anaesthetic to physically remove and lift out isolated acne scars. This treatment depends entirely on your suitability, and so a consultation with a professional is essential before progressing to treatment.


For square, indented box-scars, subcisions can be performed to loosen the fibrous tracts underneath the scar. This can help to lift the indented scar.


Experiencing acne scarring in whatever form it comes in can make you uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Lumiere Clinic in Manchester will help with advanced skin treatments to target a range of acne scars. Our expert Consultant Dermatologist and experienced Laser Practitioner will advise you on the treatment journey that will provide the best results for you and your skin. Call 0161 236 6500 or enquire online to take control of your skin today.

Lumiere Skin Clinic | Manchester