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How Scars Work

Acne Scars

Almost 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne, which puts this skin condition among the most common causes of scarring [source: American Academy of Dermatology: Acne]. Acne scars are essentially one of two types: raised scars that are caused by increased tissue formation, and depressed or pitted scars that are caused by a loss of tissue.

Scars caused by increased tissue formation are either keloid or hypertrophic. Keloids are large, raised scars. They tend to be hereditary and are particularly prevalent in Africans and people of African descent. Like keloids, hypertrophic scars are large and raised. Both types are produced by an excessive amount of collagen, which is what gives them their raised, shiny look [source: American Academy of Dermatology: Scarring].

Some scars are caused by a loss of tissue. One type is an ice-pick scar, which is a depression with jagged edges. If an ice-pick scar gets larger, experts might categorize it as a depressed fibrotic scar. Both types are usually hard to the touch, although the ice-pick variety may be softer early on. Atrophic macules are acne scars that have a wrinkled, bluish appearance. Another kind of scar is a follicular macular atrophy, which is a lesion that looks like a small white-head pimple [source: American Academy of Dermatology: Scarring].

The good news for people with acne scars is that in most cases, scarring can be significantly reduced [source: American Academy of Dermatology: Acne]. For keloid and hypertrophic scars, many of the same treatments -- cortisone injections, surgery and laser scar revisions -- are applicable [source: Keloid]. Doctors may use a combination of dermabrasion and punch grafts to treat pitted scars, such as ice-pick scars, while dermabrasion and chemical peels might work to smooth out skin for people who have other tissue-loss scars [source: American Academy of Dermatology: Acne].

Once you decide you want to do something about your scars, contact a dermatologist for treatment options. For more information on caring for your skin, follow the links on the next page.