Scar Treatment

Acne Scars: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

Date Reviewed 16.09.2021
5 min read

Acne: a dreadful word for many teenagers. One of the most frequent skin conditions across the globe, acne, also known as ‘acne vulgaris’ in Latin, is called common for a reason.

At some point in our lives, many of us are burdened with pimples, blackheads or whiteheads on different parts of our bodies, such as the face, neck, chest or back. Even when cared for properly, our skin may be prone to scarring due to acne.

At first, you may feel a little overwhelmed by acne scars. But scar care products are available to make them less obvious. Read on to learn more about acne scars, how to prevent them and, ultimately, how to tackle them.

  • Acne scar care may require months of work.
  • Keeping your skin clean and free of oily substances can help to prevent severe acne
  • There are a range of products – including prescription products – that can help


In this article, we’ll ask:

  • What is acne and what causes acne scars?
  • How can you prevent acne scars?
  • What are the potential solutions for acne scars?

What is acne and what causes acne scars?

Acne is a common skin condition. It is, in fact, one of the top three skin conditions and affects around 85% of young adults, especially in Western Europe and North America[1,2]. Acne scarring is caused by the healing process as the skin repairs itself.

The prevalence of acne is on the rise, and the scientific community is unable to determine its exact cause. It could be due to environmental factors or the earlier onset of puberty.

How acne is formed

In simple terms, acne is caused by an excess of sebum (oil) in the hair follicles. This is the reason why acne occurs mostly on the face, neck, chest and back, where the density of sebaceous glands and hair follicles is high.

The excessive oil production is driven by hormones, which is why acne affects adolescents during a period when their hormonal levels are skyrocketing. Your skin type may also be a predictor of acne, since naturally oily skin is more prone to severe acne. Be aware that severe acne is common in boys and men, not just in girls and women[3].

It is thought that factors such as skin hygiene, diet (food such as chocolate), sunlight and stress could cause acne outbreaks. However, there is limited scientific or medical evidence to support or refute these claims[4].

Acne scarring

As acne starts healing, scarring can occur. If you have inflammatory or cystic acne (swollen, red and painful), you are more at risk of developing acne scars as this tends to affect the deeper tissue[5]. So, it is important to remember that the longer you wait before tackling your inflammatory acne, the greater the risk of scarring.

As for acne scarring in general, not all men and women are similar when it comes to the likelihood of developing scars. But it has been shown that if you have a family member with acne scars, you are more likely to develop them[2].

The vast majority (around 90%) of acne scars are atrophic: pitted, depressed scars resulting from the loss of collagen fibres in the underlying tissue of the skin. Atrophic scars take different shapes (for example, boxcar, icepick, rolling)[6] and it is quite common to have more than one type on affected areas.

Although rare, acne can cause several other uncommon types of scars, including hypertrophic and keloid scars. It is known that a darker skin tone may influence the occurrence of these types of scars, and they affect African American and Asian people more frequently than Caucasians[7].

How can you prevent acne scars?

The first way to help prevent acne scars is to manage your condition. Remember that acne is caused by excessive oil (sebum) production, so do not apply oily products to your skin. To clear up acne, you can try over-the-counter remedies at first, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or alpha hydroxyl acids.

If the acne does not clear up, talk to your GP or dermatologist. He or she will help you find the best acne care option.


The bottom line is, during acne outbreaks, refrain from popping, squeezing or picking at your pimples since this can lead to infection and scarring[6,8].

What are the potential solutions for acne scars?

There are many potential solutions to help ease acne scars, from readily accessible over-the-counter products to GP prescriptions. Since acne scar care is a long process, it is better to choose an option that suits you and your lifestyle.

If topical over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide don’t work, your GP may be able to prescribe:

  • Topical retinoids
  • Topical antibiotics or tablets
  • Azelaic acid[9]

Non-pharmaceutical options may include chemical peels, comedone extractors or photodynamic therapy[9].

Mederma® is another useful way to start tackling your acne scars. Mederma’s® unique triple benefit formula visibly fades scars’ appearance in just 14 days* by hydrating and regenerating skin cells, reducing redness, and helping to reduce excess collagen[10].

Mederma® Intense Scar Gel

  • Clinically shown to visibly reduce the appearance of scars
  • Unique triple-benefit formula designed to penetrate beneath the skin surface
  • Use just once a day

Buy today


Always keep in mind that scar care takes commitment and perseverance. Acne scars won’t go away overnight and may require months of work. Keeping your skin clean and free of oily substances can also go a long way in preventing severe acne in the first place. With patience and determination, your efforts have a good chance of paying off.


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