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Acne scars: Types and Causes

Updated: Mar 11


What are the different types of acne scars?

The issue with acne is that it does not stop after it heals! The devastating consequences of acne include:

1. Redness

Even after the acne improves, inflammation can linger, resulting in persistent redness. This is also known as post-inflammation erythema (PIE). The concentration of fine capillaries around the pores causes the skin to appear red. It's essential to avoid mistaking this redness for acne and further irritating the skin, as it can lead to additional damage and prolonged redness. Seeking accurate treatment from a dermatologist or doctor is important for addressing redness effectively.

2. Pigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs due to excessive melanin production during the healing phase., Acne-prone skin has a disrupted turnover process, leaving behind dead skin cells that contribute to the overproduction of melanin. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can worsen hyperpigmentation by stimulating further melanin production. Protecting the skin from harmful UV rays is crucial in reducing the worsening of hyperpigmentation.

3. Cratering

Cratering refers to unevenly textured or dent-like acne scars on the skin. These scars develop when severe inflammation affects deep layers of the skin. They can appear elongated and sunken, broad and bumpy, or gouged out in a trapezoidal shape. Excessive collagen repair in the damaged skin prevents it from returning to its previous state, resulting in the formation of sunken craters.

A man with cratered acne scars on his cheek area

4. Lumps

Sometimes, acne healing can lead to swelling on the skin's surface. These lumps are caused by inflammation deep within the skin and excessive regeneration of skin cells during the repair phase. While these lumps are typically not painful, it is advisable to consult a medical professional if a large bulge or lump is noticed.

5. Keloids

Keloids are acne scars that occur due to repeated outbreaks of acne in the same area. The continuous inflammation and regeneration of the skin worsen the acne scars over time. They are often found around the chin and jawline and are much more challenging to manage clinically.

Causes of Acne

The development of acne is primarily attributed to chronic inflammation of the pores, which contain sebaceous follicles responsible for sebum secretion. When the pores become clogged, sebum accumulates, leading to the formation of acne bacteria known as acne bacilli.

Various factors, such as abnormal secretion of sex hormones during puberty, stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet, can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, exacerbating acne.

The Mechanism of Acne Development

STEP 1: Thickening of keratinization

When the skin's turnover function is disrupted, keratin around the pores is not effectively removed, leading to thicker and harder skin. The accumulation of sebum further clogs the pores, and old keratin tends to accumulate as well, resulting in the initial appearance of pimples.

STEP 2: Comedone formation

Sebum trapped within the pore hardens, creating a clogged pore called a comedo. The plug-like blockage formed by sebum also thickens the outermost layer of the skin, a condition known as dyskeratosis. The skin may feel rough at this stage.

STEP 3: Sebum accumulation

The comedo blocks the entrance to the pore, preventing excess sebum from being released. Consequently, more sebum accumulates inside the pores.

STEP 4: Inflammation caused by acne bacteria

Acne bacilli, a common bacterium present in the skin, feed on the accumulated sebum, leading to their multiplication. This triggers an inflammatory process resulting in redness.

STEP 5: Worsening inflammation and pus accumulation

As inflammation persists, acne becomes more severe, and pus may develop. Intense inflammation can breach the widened walls of the pores, leading to further the spread of bacterial and inflammation. Acne scars become visible even after the acne heals at this advanced stage.

What you should pay attention to in order to avoid acne scars

Acne is inevitable as it is a product of puberty and sex hormone disorders. However, it is possible to avoid acne scars by taking good care of your acne. Let's take a look at some tips for avoiding acne scars.

1. Avoid popping pimples

While it may be tempting to squeeze whiteheads or blackheads, doing so can damage the surrounding skin and introduce bacteria, leading to more severe acne and the formation of scars. It is advisable to refrain from touching or popping pimples and instead maintain a clean and hygienic skincare routine.

2. Protect yourself against harmful ultraviolet rays

UV protection is essential in acne and acne scar treatment. UV rays can worsen inflammation, increase melanin production, and exacerbate hyperpigmentation. Regularly use sunscreen, seek shade, and wear sunglasses to minimize exposure to UV rays.

3. Avoid excessive face washing

Be cautious when washing your face. Using harsh cleansers or scrubbing too vigorously can damage the skin and worsen acne. Hot water can strip the skin of necessary oils, leading to dryness. It is recommended to wash the face gently and avoid using hot water.

4. Take good care of your skin after washing your face

After cleansing, moisturize the skin thoroughly to promote skin metabolism and prevent acne scar formation. Pay attention to your skin type and choose appropriate skincare products. Avoid excessive scrubbing or rough handling of the skin.

Treatment of acne scars at KINS Clinic| Prices and features

The following is an introduction to the treatment of acne scars at KINC Clinic. If you are interested in treating your acne scars, it is important to try out treatment that suits your skin type and condition. If you are concerned about your acne scars, do feel free to book for a thorough consultation with our doctors who will be able to recommend treatments that work for your skin and aesthetic goals.

1. Chemical peeling

This treatment involves the application of a peeling agent to remove dead skin cells and promote the regeneration of new skin. Chemical peels are effective in reducing pore size and have minimal downtime.

Learn more about chemical peels here.

2. V-beam

The V-beam laser is designed to treat redness associated with acne and remove red acne scars. It specifically targets the red pigment in the skin, reducing erythema and inflammation.


We have introduced the mechanism of acne development, types of scars, and tips on how to avoid acne scars. If you are concerned about your acne scars, we recommend that you visit a specialized clinic for a thorough consultation, where a doctor will be able to recommend treatments based on your aesthetic goals and skin condition.

If you are interested in acne or acne scar treatment, do visit KINS Clinic for a thorough consultation on the condition of your skin.

Schedule a consultation today and start your acne recovery journey today.

This blog post was medically reviewed by Dr Summer Zhang.


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