DermNet NZ

Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Acne scarring

What is acne scarring?

The term "scarring" refers to a fibrous process in which new collagen is laid down to heal a full-thickness injury. It affects 30% of those with moderate or severe acne vulgaris. It is particularly common in nodulocystic acne, acne conglobata and acne fulminans. It may also be a long-term consequence of infantile acne.

To reduce the chance of scarring, seek treatment for your acne early. Severe acne can often be cured.

Acne scars Acne scars Acne scars
Acne scars Acne scars Acne scars
Acne scarring

What are postinflammatory colour changes?

Postinflammatory colour changes are seen after inflammatory acne lesions have recently healed.

Postinflammatory colour changes improve with time, but it can take many months for them to completely resolve.

Acne: pink marks
Pink marks
Acne: brown marks
Brown marks
Acne: white marks
White marks
Postinflammatory colour changes in acne

What is the treatment for postinflammatory pigmentation?

The treatment for postinflammatory pigmentation includes:

What are the features of persistent scarring?

Unfortunately, true acne scars never completely disappear, although their appearance usually improves with time. They can be disguised with make-up (cosmetic camouflage).

The following types of scar occur in acne:

Acne scarring
Ice-pick scars
Acne scarring
Boxcar scars
Acne scarring
Atrophic scars
Acne scarring
Hypertrophic scars
Acne scarring
Acne scarring Acne scarring Acne scarring
Rolling scars Three images © Dr Ph Abimelec – dermatologue
Acne scarring

How do you treat acne scars?

Ice pick and boxcar scars

Atrophic and rolling scars

Hypertrophic scars

Unfortunately, hypertrophic or keloid scars are particularly prone to recur even after apparently successful treatment.

Related information

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Author: Reviewed and updated by Dr Amanda Oakley Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand; Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer; and Clare Morrison, Copy Editor, June 2014.

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If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.