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Causes of Acne Scars

Causes of Acne Scars Causes of Acne Scars

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. Although more commonly seen in times of hormonal imbalance, such as during puberty, pregnancy or menopause, acne can occur at anytime and anywhere on the skin where sebacious glands are located. Mild cases of acne, such as blackheads or whiteheads (also known as comedones), often heal on their own with little evidence of their existence. More serious cases of acne (such as cysts or nodules), however, may damage skin tissue, resulting in scar formation.


Bacteria are one contributing factor to the development of scar; more specifically the acne-related bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes. P. acnes is naturally found on the skin, but can invade acne comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) as they form in the follicles. While inside the follicles, P. acnes multiplies, triggering the production of white blood cells by the immune system. As white blood cells flow through the blood vessels to the blocked follicle, inflammation and pus can occur, which is the first step towards scar tissue formation.


As inflammation increases, pressure builds up inside the acne lesion and can burst the follicle walls, spilling bacteria, pus and sebum oil into the surrounding tissue. As the lesion bursts, damage is done to the surrounding tissue. By this point, the acne lesion has typically progressed into an acne cyst or acne nodule. Depending on how difficult the damage is to heal, scar tissue may form around the acne lesion.


Picking at acne comedones or acne lesions can also increase your chances of developing scar tissue, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Picking at your acne can increase risks for infection, which can progress your acne into more serious cases.

Collagen and Tissue Loss

After acne causes skin tissue damage, the skin responds by developing new collagen. Collagen is an important protein that provides your skin with its flexibility and shape. Unfortunately, sometimes the body produces too much collagen after acne damage, resulting in a raised scar. On the other hand, in many cases damaged tissue may not be fully replaced, leaving indentations in the skin commonly referred to as "ice pick" scars or "boxcar" scars.


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your genetics can also determine whether your skin will develop acne scars. Your genes can determine both how sensitive your skin is to scarring. Genes also determine other contributing factors to severe acne formation, such as how much sebum oil your sebacious glands produce, or how often your body sloughs old skin cells.

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