In most cases, a problem with acne is temporary and will resolve with age and moderate intervention. Unfortunately, it is possible for acne scars to become permanent. This is not something people want, but once the skin has been damaged by a wound or injury, scarring is part of the skin’s healing process. It is common for a superficial wound to heal without leaving a scar, but some types of acne infections can affect the dermis. Scarring occurs when the dermis is damaged. There are various causes of acne scars, and the good news is, there are ways they can be prevented.

Causes of Acne

Acne scars are usually the result of an inflamed lesion. This can be a cyst, papule or pustule. A person will experience an inflamed blemish when the pore or follicle becomes filled with bacteria, excess oil, or dead skin cells. This is when the pore will swell and result in damage to the follicle wall. Should a rupture happen near the surface of the skin, the lesion is often minor and will heal quickly.

More serious lesions happen when a deep break in the follicle wall occurs. This causes the infected material to spill out onto the dermis. This will destroy healthy skin tissue and cause symptoms of extreme redness on the surface. When this damage occurs to the dermis, the skin creates new collagen fibers. Collagen is a fibrous protein and provides skin with flexibility and strength as it repairs the damaged tissue and fights the infection.

Unfortunately, the body’s repair never looks as good as it did before the injury. The more serious the skin’s inflammation, the greater the chance for scarring to happen. When there is a deep breakout like this, it will take a long time to heal. The chances of scarring then increase significantly.

Types of Acne Scarring

When a wound heals, a person’s body may produce too much collagen. This will result in them having raised, toughened tissue on the surface of their skin. This is known as keloid or hypertrophic scarring. It is more common for acne to result in a person having depressed or atrophic scars. These are scars that occur when there is tissue loss. Two examples of this scarring are boxcar scars and ice pick scars.

Some people may believe they have an acne scar, but it is not a true scar. This could simply be post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH is temporary skin discoloration and will fade on its own. The uses of Retin-A and other certain medications can quicken the fading time.


It isn’t possible to guarantee you won’t develop acne scars if you experience acne breakouts. Some things can minimize the chances of developing scars from acne. It is important to get acne under control as quickly as possible. Acne should be treated immediately. If there is no improvement with over-the-counter medications, it’s time to see a dermatologist in San Francisco. Immediate treatments can result in having only minimal breakouts and stop acne from becoming severe. When pimples are prevented, the resulting scarring is also prevented.

Decrease Inflammation

Acne blemishes that are large and inflamed have more of a chance of scarring compared to breakouts that aren’t inflamed. Irritating the skin should be avoided to prevent the risk of scarring. Harsh skincare and aggressive scrubbing must also be avoided. Picking or popping pimples shouldn’t be done because this can cause the debris to go deeper into a person’s dermis, spreading infection to other tissues and making the inflammation worse. A blemish needs to be allowed to heal on its own.

Acne Treatments in San Francisco, CA

Should you or a loved one be struggling with acne or acne scarring there is help available at Kwan Dermatology. Contact board-certified dermatologist Dr. William Kwan, and arrange for a consultation if you have concerns about your skin. Dr. Kwan practices both cosmetic and medical dermatology and is here to help you clear up the skin and live a healthy, blemish-free life. You can get in touch with him by calling the office or filling out an online contact form today.