Why Most People Confuse Post Acne Marks for Scarring

Why Most People Confuse Post Acne Marks for Scarring

Acne and other inflammatory disorders can leave behind different types of "post trauma" marks on the skin. Let's get into why it's not always scarring even when people think it is. 

What is Post Acne Scarring?

True acne scarring is when there is a lack of collagen produced during the wound healing cascade after trauma to the skin. (Like an inflamed lesion)

Scarring is either atrophic or hypertrophic, and it results in a depression in the skin or a raised keloid like scar. Often time there will be a red, pink, purple, or brown marks left behind after a breakout and people will believe they've been left with scars - this is not the case! 

Post inflammatory pigmentation or erythema is usually what is left behind on the skin, and it's not a true scar. 

PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation)

This is more commonly seen in the deeper skin tones, and presents as brown or even purple areas of pigmentation.

PIH results from overproduction of melanin following inflammation or injury.

PIE (Post Inflammatory Erythema)

This is more commonly seen in lighter skin tones, and can present as pink or red marks. 

PIE happens when blood flow is stopped during the inflammation stage, and blood vessel dilation or any damage to those blood vessels can cause the red marks to appear on the skin. (Post acne or other forms of skin trauma) 

The Good News  

These types of post inflammatory marks are very common after a breakout, so many people associate them with scarring, but since they are not in fact true scarring, they will fade over time on their own even without any extra help from topicals, as long as sunscreen is being worn regularly to help stop UV radiation from triggering continuous inflammation. 

The Better News

By using specific ingredients in a skincare routine and with in clinic treatments, the appearance of post inflammatory marks can be lessened more efficiently!

Suggested Ingredients and Treatments for PIH 

Ingredients: Kojic Acid,  Alpha Arbutin, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Phytic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mulberry, Licorice Root, Bearberry, Retinoids, and Hexylresorcinol

Treatments: Chemical peels, Microneedling, DMK Enzyme Therapy, and Hydrodermabrasion

Suggested Ingredients & Treatments for PIE

Ingredients: Vitamin C, Beta Glucan, Niacinamide, Ceramides, Aloe Vera, Oat Extract, Green tea Extract, Copper Tripeptide-1, Azelaic Acid, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

Treatments: Chemical peels, Microneedling, and DMK Enzyme Therapy

Sunscreen is Key

When dealing with any form of post inflammatory trauma mark, using a daily sunscreen is a non-negotiable if you want to reduce the appearance and also maintain the integrity of our skin health long-term. 

Reaching Out to A Licensed Esthetician 

If you are unsure what type of mark you are dealing with, post inflammatory or a true scar, it's important to work with a licensed skin professional to not only help identify what your concern is, but to recommend the best approach to home care and professional treatments. 

Thank you for reading! 

This article of the Skinsider Scoop was graciously written by Licensed Esthetician, Crystal O'Reilly, and edited by the Clean Skin Club team. If you're interested in more from Crystal, please shoot us an email, and follow her Instagram - @crystal.selfish