Acne lesions (pimples) happen when the hair follicles (or “pores”) on the skin become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. A plugged follicle is the perfect place for bacteria to grow and create the red bumps and pus-filled red bumps known as pimples.
Whenever you get a pimple, you probably want it to heal quickly. But sometimes, acne blemishes leave a dark mark on your skin even after the pimple is gone. This is frustrating, but not uncommon.
Getting rid of these dark spots on your skin starts with understanding what reason them in the first place.
When a pimple pops up on your skin, it’s technically a form of inflammation. And as your skin heals and new skin cells form, it’s possible that the cells sent to help restore your skin’s smooth surface contain too much melanin.
Treating Acne Scars
Most of the time, those reddish or brownish acne marks that are left behind after pimples clear up will fade with no need for treatment. Picking or squeezing acne can increase the risk for scarring, though.
Acne scars take two forms:
- scars with a gradual dip or depression (sometimes called “rolling” scars)
- scars that are deep and narrow
What’s the difference between acne marks and acne scars?
In order to treat acne marks and scars, it’s helpful to learn how to distinguish between the two. What many people don’t realize is that a dark or pink mark on the skin is not actually an acne scar. Inflammation in the skin often leaves behind a stain as part of the natural healing process.
It feels great to see your acne go away. But without proper treatment, unwelcome reminders of your pimples and blackheads may linger in the form of acne scars. A scar is your body’s response to healing a wound, surgical incision or injury to the skin. When you have a skin injury (such as severe acne), skin cells combine with connective tissue cells and multiply to repair the damage. When the injury does not heal properly, the result is a scar – either a dark mark or patch of skin that grows over a wound and is generally thicker or a different color than the rest of your skin. While it might seem odd, acne is technically an injury because when a pimple becomes inflamed, it damages the surrounding skin.
Acne Scar Causes
There are three types of acne scars. Atrophic scars occur when not enough connective tissue (fibroblasts) is made during the healing process. These scars generally look like small depressions in the skin and can occur even if you don’t squeeze your pimples. Hypertrophic scars have the opposite problem. When too much connective tissue is created, it leaves a raised scar because the tissue keeps growing even after the wound is filled in. This scar type tends to occur in severe acne cases and typically appears on the back, neck or shoulders.