Acne Scars: Learn Why They Show Up and The Difference in Each Type

It’s one thing to experience acne during puberty and even early adulthood. But when those years of acne breakouts follow you as you get older by way of acne scars, well, that just doesn’t seem fair. Shouldn’t we all have the opportunity for clear, smooth skin? 

Yes, we should, and the expert dermatologists at Easton Dermatology Associates are dedicated to making that happen for everyone. Part of successfully getting rid of acne scars is understanding the different types of acne scars — and what treatments are best for each kind.

Types of acne scars

There are two main categories of acne scars: raised acne scars and depressed acne scars. Within those two categories are many different kinds of scars

Depressed scars

Flat and shallow, depressed acne scars — also called atrophic acne scars — appear as a small indentation in your skin. They form this way because the acne blemishes heal below the surface of your skin, and your skin can’t regenerate enough tissue to even out the top layer. Within this category, there are three types of acne scars.

Boxcar scars: These scars form as a broad, box-shaped depression in your skin. They can give your skin a pitted appearance, and they usually form in areas where your skin is thicker, such as your jawline. 

Icepick scars: Icepick scars extend deep into your skin; they’re shaped like a cone with the point facing inward. Think of icepick scars as if you were poked with a sharp needle and formed a scar in the shape of the puncture. 

Rolling scars: These depressed scars can give your skin a wave-like appearance, or a generally uneven complexion. They aren’t as deep as boxcar or ice pick scars, and they aren’t as sharply defined.

Raised scars

Raised scars are the opposite of depressed scars: They form when your skin produces too much excess tissue after acne breakouts. They appear as raised bumps on your skin, and they’re typically very firm. 

Hypertrophic scars: These scars tend to be the same size as the acne blemishes that caused them, and they most commonly come from acne on the back or other non-facial areas, although they can form anywhere. 

Keloid scars: Keloid scars are a more severe version of hypertrophic scars, growing larger than the blemishes that caused them. They can have shoots or “arms” that extend from the origin of the scar. 


Hyperpigmentation, or over-coloration, is not a true acne scar, but can be just as frustrating. Dark brown spots are more common in people with darker complexions, while red hyperpigmentation is more common in people with lighter complexions. Often, hyperpigmentation goes away on its own with time and usual care. 

How to get rid of acne scars

Different types of acne scars require different treatments to effectively solve the problem. 

Depressed scars respond well to: 

Raised scars respond to: 

To learn more about the different types of acne scars and which type of treatment you need, schedule a consultation appointment with a dermatologist at Easton Dermatology Associates. Call 410-819-8867 (Easton) or 410-819-8867 (Salisbury).

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