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acne marks vs acne scars

Acne marks vs acne scars: How to tell the difference

Suffering from acne and acne scarring can be debilitating, particularly as it can be difficult to distinguish between acne-related marks on the skin. When acne clears up, it commonly leaves behind visible markers on acne prone skin. Treatment will depend on what the marks actually are. Let’s find out the difference between acne marks vs acne scars. 


Acne Marks

Acne marks on the skin are much less serious than acne scarring. Caused by inflammation, acne marks appear as discoloured areas of skin after a damaging breakout. They may be red, brown or white. A key way to distinguish between acne marks vs acne scars is to note the texture of the skin. If the discoloured skin is still flat, it is a superficial acne mark, and the breakout did not damage the skin enough to scar. Though they are persistent, red acne marks will usually disappear on their own after 3-6 months, while brown marks may take over a year. Acne marks are not permanent skin damage. 



Breakouts are likely when oil clogs pores or when hormone levels fluctuate. As pimples start to form and the skin senses an “attack”, it triggers an influx of white blood cells to prepare for any potential bacteria that needs to be fought off. This response increases blood flow to the damaged area of the skin, turning it red. The skin also triggers melanocytes to the area of damage, and the production of melanin darkens the skin. This is more common in those with darker skin tones. 


Acne Marks vs Acne Scars

Acne scars, on the other hand, do signify permanent skin damage. Scarring is either depressed or raised. Indicating harm at a deeper level. Since the damage is more significant, treatment for acne scarring is necessary as they can not disappear alone. Acne scars are caused by a deficit or overload of collagen in the skin, and there are many different types. A key way to understand whether you are dealing with acne marks vs acne scars is to note the texture and any discolouration of the skin. 

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