Knowledge Is Power: Going More than Skin Deep on Acne Scarring


Acne, even when it’s mild, can result in scarring. In fact, at least 40% of people with acne also have scars. But along with acne and scars come inevitable questions: Who is at risk for scarring, and what can be done to prevent it? What’s the tipping point to schedule a visit to the dermatologist? And most importantly, why won’t these pesky blemishes just go away? The entire process can be emotional, confusing and overwhelming.

In an effort to “breakdown breakouts,” New York City dermatologist Dr. Josh Zeichner, a leading acne researcher and expert advisor for Galderma Laboratories, offers the following guidance:

  1. “First and foremost, you’re not alone,” states Dr. Zeichner. “So many of my patients come in for acne – from one-off breakouts to cystic.” Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually and approximately 85% of young people.
  2. Treating brown marks as if they’re scars? Take a closer look: it could actually just be hyperpigmentation. “Inflammation after a breakout revs up pigment production as part of the normal healing process of the skin, creating a dark spot that is frequently mistaken for a scar,” Dr. Zeichner says. “Those with lighter complexions may be left with marks that are red or purple in color.”
  3. True scars are broken down into two categories: depressed and raised.
    • “Depressed scars are ‘pits’ in the skin and also referred to as atrophic scars,” adds Dr. Zeichner. “When speaking to a dermatologist, keep an ear out for words like ‘boxcar,’ ‘icepick’ and ‘rolling.’ These are all specific types of depressed scars.”
    • “Raised scars are more common on the back and chest. You may hear a dermatologist refer to them as ‘hypertrophic,’” notes Dr. Zeichner.
  4. Take notice of the other kinds of “scars” that may result from treating acne. When treating acne scars, individuals have reported feeling embarrassment or low self-esteem (41%), frustration/anger/sadness (31%) and an affect on their professional lives (22%). “There are powerful psychological and emotional effects from acne that should be acknowledged and addressed accordingly,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Pay attention to your feelings and don’t keep it inside if you need to talk to a friend, family member or your doctor.”
  5. Concerned about scarring? Nip it in the bud, and leave it to the pros. “Early, aggressive and appropriate treatment of acne is important as it may effectively decrease the risk of developing acne scarring to begin with,” stresses Dr. Zeichner. “Everyone’s skin is different, and visiting a dermatologist will help establish a personalized plan of action.”

Above all, always remember that with the right tools, acne can be a manageable, treatable condition. The best path forward is to get a clear understanding of one’s acne from a dermatologist, who can help develop a customized treatment regimen. Not only are there trusted prescription treatments proven to fight existing and prevent future acne, but new research is also on the horizon demonstrating how treatment can help reduce the risk of acne scarring.

Net-net, don’t lose hope! Tackling acne early and quickly using powerful ingredients will lead the way to clearer, healthier skin.