Scars form on the skin as part of the natural healing process of wounds that spread to the dermis, which is the middle layer of the three layers of skin. When there are wounds on the surface layer or epidermis, scars usually do not form. There are two main types of scars, including hypertrophic or keloid scars that form because of an overproduction of collagen and atrophic scars that develop because of a loss of tissue. Acne scars are most often atrophic.
When a hair follicle pore in your skin becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, bacteria may start to form and the pore becomes inflamed and looks red and swollen. This is the beginning of acne. Eventually, a lesion will form such as a pustule, cyst or papule. As the pore becomes swollen, it breaks and a rupture appears on the skin’s surface. This is a minor lesion and usually heals quickly. When the follicle pore breaks and the infected material goes into the dermis, it destroys healthy skin tissue and is the beginning of acne scarring.
The skin tries to repair the damage by forming new collagen fibers that give strength and flexibility to the skin. When too much collagen is formed, it may rise above the surface of the skin and be a scar. The more common type of scar from acne looks like a small pit and forms because the deep tissue damage is not repaired.
After the inflammation is healed, there may be a dark spot left called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is not a true acne scar and is usually temporary, fading without treatment.
You may be able to gauge whether you are developing acne scars by the amount of inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the more likely it is that you will get a scar. If the lesion is deep and takes a long time to heal, there is a good chance it will leave a scar. Whiteheads, blackheads and other blemishes that do not have inflammation usually do not cause acne scars. This is because they do not reach the deeper layer of skin.
During a consultation with our specialist at the Associates in Women’s Health, you can learn about different ways to prevent and treat acne scars. We encourage you to schedule a consultation at our office in Cincinnati to learn more information. Contact us today to book your appointment!