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Les différents types de cicatrices/marques acnéiques.

Acne Scars vs. Acne Marks: Types and Differences.

Following skin trauma such as an acne outbreak, the skin heals. This natural, life-saving process can, however, give rise to more or less permanent acne scars of different types. We will explain to you the difference of acne scars vs. acne marks.

Published February 29, 2024, by Maylis, Chemical Engineer — 10 min read

Acne Marks.

Comparing acne scars vs. acne marks, the latter can disappear spontaneously after a few weeks or even months. Depending on the “color” they take on and the underlying biological mechanism behind their formation, they are classified into two categories:

  • Pigmented (dark) spots: These are, depending on skin color, flat dark spots after a pimple, a skin lesion or inflammation. This post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is due to excessive production of melanin, a pigment present in the skin whose main function is to protect skin cells from UV rays. During inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines stimulate the activity of melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin. This type of mark is more common in mixed-race to darker phototypes.

    To attenuate them, we recommend daily application of skin care products containing the following active ingredients: azelaic acid, arbutin acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, chemical exfoliants (AHA, BHA and PHA), retinoids. If this is not effective, certain procedures can be performed by a dermatologist: chemical peels, laser treatments, hydroquinone prescriptions or even the use of pulsed light.

  • Erythematous (red) spots: These pink to red marks are caused by vasodilatation of superficial cutaneous vessels, and are more visible on fair skins: they're also known as post-inflammatory erythematous marks. 

    To reduce their appearance, or even eliminate them altogether, it's essential to keep the skin hydrated by applying products containing moisturizing ingredients (aloe vera, glycerine, hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid…).

    You should also repair the damaged skin barrier with products containing ceramides, niacinamide, fatty acids, etc., and use products with anti-inflammatory active ingredients (vitamin C, azelaic acid, etc.). In addition, opt for products containing soothing and healing ingredients (Centella asiatica, panthenol…).

Acne Scars.

Dark scars on skin are marks that remain visible 1 year after the lesion has healed. So, depending on the severity of the acne, when talking about acne scars vs. acne marks, the first can stay on the skin for life. They can be more or less numerous and more or less deep. It all depends on the degree of damage to the skin's layers. There are two acne scars of different types

  • Atrophic scars, which have a sunken appearance in the skin, varying in size and depth. This is the most frequent form of scarring after severe acne. They can take three different forms: “ice pick” or “V” shaped, which are narrow and deep; “U” or “crater” shaped, which are rather wide, shallow, with sharp or rounded edges; and “quadrangular” shaped, which are wide and deep. This type of scarring occurs when a wound fails to heal properly and insufficient connective tissue forms. Depending on their severity, it may not be possible to completely eliminate them, but they can be reduced. Depending on the depth and age of the marks, there are several options (aesthetic medicine or surgery): dermatological peeling with TCA, infrared light, microdermabrasion, hyaluronic acid or fat injection, microneedling, laser treatment, skin ablation, skin grafting, fractional radiofrequency.

  • Hypertrophic scars are slightly swollen, with a sort of outgrowth of skin tissue. They are also known as keloid scars. They are due to the formation of a second layer of collagen overlying the scar tissue during the healing phase of the acne pimple. Aesthetic medicine offers a range of treatments to reduce or eliminate hypertrophic scars: intralesional corticosteroid injections, skin ablation, radiotherapy, laser treatment (CO2 laser, Erbium laser), pressotherapy, dermatological peeling.

Sources :

  • BAD-CASINTAHAN F. & al. Frequency and characteristics of acne-related post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The  Journal of Dermatology (2016).

  • HAMZAVI I. H. & al. The role of sunscreen in melasma and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Indian Journal of Dermatology (2020).

  • MADAN R. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: A review of treatment strategies. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2020).

  • SANGHA A. M. Managing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients with acne. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2021).


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