Understanding acne marks and acne scars

Before considering how acne marks and scars form and what we can do to get rid of them, let’s quickly recap what is acne and why it occurs.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a common skin pathology affecting the pilosebaceous follicle, which is caused by too much sebum (hyperseborrhea) and poor-quality sebum (dysseborrhea). As the skin thickens, the sebum gets blocked under the surface, leading to comedones. The bacteria responsible for acne, Cutibacterium acnes, develops in the accumulated sebum. When this inflammatory stage has been reached, closed comedones form resulting in painful red spots.
Lesions of varying degrees of severity appear mainly on the face, thorax and back - from blackheads to deeply inflamed cysts.

Discover more about the causes of acne

What is the difference between acne marks and acne scars?


Acne marks are temporarily discoloured and will naturally disappear, although this may take many months. On the other hand, acne scars are permanent skin damage and will not disappear without treatment.


  • Isabelle Baratte, Dermatologist

    The traces of pimples are recent red marks that will disappear, except if they’re exposed to the sun, in which case they can turn brown. It’s therefore important to protect the marks with sunscreen. These coloured marks will fade by themselves, although this may take several weeks. Acne scars are different. They are permanent depressed or raised marks. However, they can be reduced through dermatological means, such as peelings, lasers and dermabrasion. A dermatologist must be consulted, and the scars only treated once the acne has been completely cured.
     Dr Isabelle Baratte, dermatologist.

What are acne marks? How can you get rid of them?

Acne lesions can leave marks, even once they are no longer inflamed. The skin around an acne lesion may change colour (discoloration). The purple, red, or brown marks will gradually fade on their own, although this may take a long time.


Adopting simple steps can help reduce the appearance of acne marks:


  • Avoid touching your face too regularly or wearing a lot of makeup – ideally chose non-comedogenic products
  • Use oil-free sunscreen to prevent hyperpigmentation
  • Avoid squeezing pimples, blackheads and whiteheads


Targeted skincare products, like Sébium Kerato+ , can also help reduce acne marks. This cream-gel acts on mild to moderate acne to help reduce imperfections (-18.9% acne volume in two days and -41.1% after a month*) and acne marks (-19.6% in pigment spots and marks in two days, -36.2% after a month*).


*Source : Use test under dermatological control performed on 33 subjects aged 18-42 with combination, oily or acne-prone skin – Eurofins No. 20E5071

Touching face Avoid touching your face too regularly or wearing a lot of makeup – ideally chose non-comedogenic products
Sunscreen Use oil-free sunscreen to prevent hyperpigmentation
Pimples Avoid squeezing pimples, blackheads and whiteheads

What are acne scars?

Scars form when an acne lesion penetrates the skin deeply and damages the tissues. These acne scars can take different forms and require different kinds of treatment.

Depressed acne scars 

Most common on the face, atrophic or depressed scars are positioned below the surrounding skin. They form when the body does not produce enough collagen as the wound heals. There are three types.

These wide, U-shaped scars have sharp edges. The shallower they are, the better they respond to skin resurfacing treatments. 

These are narrow, V-shaped scars that sometimes appear as small round or oval holes, rather like a chickenpox scar. They often are difficult to treat because they go deep under the surface of the skin.

These wide depressions usually have rounded edges and an irregular, rolling appearance.

Before beginning to treat acne scars, it is important to bear three things in mind.

  • You need to get rid of your acne first, as new breakouts can create new acne scars. Furthermore, some acne scar treatments are not compatible with acne medication.  


  • Your skin tone may have an impact on the type of treatment and its efficacy. For example, deeper skin laser treatments may lead to more scarring and pigmentation for darker skin types.


  • Always consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment. 

Often found in acne-products, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can make acne scars less noticeable. The mild acid acts as an exfoliator that removes the outer layer of the skin and any discoloration or roughness.

Dermatologist-performed lactic acid peels can improve your skin texture, appearance, and pigmentation and lighten acne scars. You can also find lots of peels, serums, and ointments with lactic acid in pharmacies.

Topical retinoids are another acne treatment that can reduce discoloration and make scars less noticeable. Remember to wear sunscreen, as retinoids make the skin more sensitive to the sun. 

Salicylic acid clears pores, reduces swelling and redness, and exfoliates the skin when applied topically. 

Dermabrasion is a type of surgical skin planing. Healthcare professionals remove the top layer of your skin. Although you also find microdermabrasion kits to do at home.

At-home or dermatologist-applied chemical peels feature a strong acid that removes the top layer of the skin to reduce deeper scars. 

The healthcare professional uses a laser to remove the top layer of the skin, which usually heals faster than following other resurfacing treatments.

Fillers (such as hyaluronic acid, poly-L-lactic acid, and body fat) are injected under the surface of the skin to plump and smooth out depressed scars. Most last between 6 and 18 months, but some are permanent.

The needles on a small handheld roller or “pen” puncture the surface of the numbed skin. As the skin heals, it produces collagen

Daily skincare

Acne-prone skin

Fluidactiv patent

Sébium Kerato+

Visibly efficient on pimples, blackheads and marks from 2 days. High tolerance.

For whom ?

Adults, Teens