Person with acne scarring

Why Does Acne Scar?

To add insult to injury, the pimples that acne brings to the face and torso can leave an unpleasant reminder even after the blemishes have gone: scarring. Scarring after acne is a widespread issue, with nearly 1 out of 5 people with acne experiencing scarring.1

So, what causes acne scarring? The culprit is the swelling and inflammation below the skin’s surface, resulting in trauma to the skin and the resulting scar.1,2

After inflammation damages the skin, the skin tries to repair itself by producing collagen, a component of skin tissue that gives it elasticity and strength. However, when the wrong amount of collagen is produced, scars can form. Both too much collagen and not enough collagen can lead to scarring.2,3

Types of scarring

  1. Indentation scars (also called depressed acne scars): indentation scars form when there is too little collagen produced to repair the skin. You dermatologist may call these atrophic scars. There are 3 types of atrophic scars: ice pick, box car, and rolling. Atrophic scars are the most common type of acne scarring.
  2. Raised acne scars: raised scars form when there is too much collagen produced to repair the damage to the skin.

What you can do about scars

It’s important to note that not all acne causes scars. And one of the best ways to prevent acne scarring is to have your acne evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist.2,3 Based on the dermatologist’s diagnosis, getting your acne treated early can help prevent scarring.

If you already have acne scarring, discuss scarring treatment options with your dermatologist. They will examine your scars and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your skin and scar types to help diminish and remove scarring.3,4


1. Cleveland Clinic. Acne scars. Accessed June 28, 2022.

2. American Academy of Dermatology. Acne scars: who gets and causes. Accessed June 28, 2022.

3. Connolly D, Vu HL, Mariwalla K, Saedi N. Acne scarring—pathogenesis, evaluation, and treatment options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(9):12-23.

4. American Academy of Dermatology. Acne scars: diagnosis and treatment. Accessed July 17, 2022.