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Acne Scars & Blemishes

Acne Scars & Blemishes Acne Scars & Blemishes Acne Scars & Blemishes


Most people suffer from pimples as teenagers. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD, calls acne the most common skin condition in the United States. Fewer than half of acne sufferers develop scars and colored blemishes from their acne lesions, but for those who do, the scars can cause problems with confidence and self-esteem. If you believe your acne scars are interfering with your life, treatments can help.

Acne Scar Causes

Two factors determine whether you'll get acne scars: family history and the severity of your acne. If you have many close relatives who've been scarred by acne, it's likely you'll wind up with acne scars too. And if you have severe acne -- especially acne involving large painful nodules or cysts far below the skin's surface -- you're very likely to develop scars.

Scar Types

According to the AAD, there are three main types of acne scars. The majority of people have depressed acne scars, which commonly are called "ice pick scars" and "boxcars." These scars, which are really depressions in the skin, develop when severe infection and inflammation heal. Raised acne scars, which also can develop from severe cystic acne, look like irregular, rubbery lumps on the surface of the skin. The third type, skin discoloration or blemishes from healed pimples, isn't technically scarring because the dark-colored marks will heal in time, the AAD states.

Drug Store Treatments

Treatments available at your local drug store potentially can help reduce some minor acne scars and blemishes, according to the AAD. The organization says that over-the-counter ointments containing vitamin C, the retinol form of vitamin A and glycolic acid potentially are effective in diminishing small, saucer-shaped depressed scars and in flattening some raised scars. Creams that contain the ingredient hydroquinone will help fade colored blemishes left behind by acne, the AAD says.

Dermatologist Options

Those with severe or even moderate acne scars and blemishes might want to talk to their dermatologist about treatments. Dermatologists can use surgery or laser treatment to improve the appearance of depressed acne scars, and might recommend injections followed by surgery for raised acne scars. For colored blemishes, they can offer prescription-strength medicated cream, or potentially chemical peels and microdermabrasion to fade the colored spots.


Health insurance generally doesn't pay for treatment to reduce acne scars and blemishes, according to the AAD. The organization recommends getting a complete price estimate before starting treatment, and some dermatologists offer financing or payment plans. Although some treatments can be expensive, many acne scar sufferers say the results -- clearer skin and much less visible scars -- are worth it. Talk with your dermatologist if you want to consider professional treatment for your acne scars and blemishes.

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