What Are Acne Scars, and What Causes Them?
Before we get into how to treat acne scars and acne marks, it's important to understand what they are: visible raised marks and indentations left behind due to skin damage from a pimple or serious acne.
"Acne scars are when the blemish damages the top layer of skin as well as the deeper levels of the skin," Worden tells POPSUGAR. "It damages the skin and leaves you with an indentation like a pockmark or crater in the skin."
Acne can be caused by a multitude of factors: genetics, environment, hormones, diet, sebum production, pH of skin, bacteria buildup, medication, and inflammation. As the inflammation subsides and the skin attempts to heal itself, scar tissue can form. Scars could look different depending on skin type and skin tone. Light-color skin tones will often produce red marks after acne, whereas dark complexions show brown marks after acne.
What's the Difference Between Acne Scars and Acne Marks?
The main difference is the level of permanence. "Acne marks are red (erythema) or brown (hyperpigmentation) discolored marks that are temporary, taking just a few months to fade and heal," Worden says. Acne scars, however, can be permanent if not treated early on.
According to Dr. Engelman, acne marks can include dark marks or hyperpigmentation, which are not raised. One telltale way to know the difference: acne scars have a texture. "They are raised or depressed marks that are able to be felt on the skin," she says.