Acne scars are the visible remainders of tissue damage to the skin and the body's efforts to repair the damage. When acne occurs it clogs the pores of the skin and often becomes inflamed and fills with pus. As bacteria fill the pore, signals are sent to the body's immune system telling it that an injury to the skin has occurred. As the immune system works to repair the damage, scar tissue forms at the site and this is what accounts for the majority of acne scarring. Acne scarring can also occur as a result of a person "popping" the pimple or picking at the area with their fingers or other rough instruments such as needles. This can cause additional damage to the skin, and once again the body's immune system gets to work trying to repair the damage. When acne is picked at, the resulting scars are usually much more prominent than when it is left alone to heal because picking at the skin allows more bacteria to enter the region.
There are basically two types of acne scarring known as keloids, which are scars caused by an increase in the formation of scar tissue and scars that are caused by a decrease in the skin tissue. The former type is known by several names including ice-pick scars and macules. Keloids are thick growths of tissue that form at the site of the acne. They are usually smooth- and irregularly-shaped. What appears to be ice-pick scars and macules are usually depressions in the skin similar to the scarring caused by chickenpox. Over time the depressions from these types of scars can get even deeper and more prominent. They are called "ice-pick" scars because they resemble marks left by an ice-pick or similar instrument.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention of acne scars begins with proper treatment of acne. Do not pick at pimples, blemishes or other types of acne as this will exacerbate the condition and even lead to a bigger problem than before. Allow the acne to heal naturally. If you are prone to scarring, treat your acne with proven acne-fighting products such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These topical medications aid in the breakdown of acne, and are known to temporarily cure acne. Using these products will also diminish the chances of scarring. Treatment for existing scars includes laser treatment, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, skin grafting and excision. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are skin- peeling treatments that remove the superficial damaged layers of the skin. This process is most effective on smaller acne scars. Excision is the method of surgically removing a scar by cutting it out and the subsequent repairing of the hole by stitching. A skin graft may be considered for very prominent and disfiguring scars. This process involves taking healthy skin tissue from another part of the body, such as the buttocks, and transferring it onto the scarred and damaged area.