Categorized | Acne

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Physical Effects of Acne

No matter who gets acne, acne can have a long-lasting physical effect. Acne lesions can leave permanent scars on an acne patient’s skin. When a clogged hair follicle becomes infected, and the body sends white blood cells and powerful chemicals to combat the infection, swelling causes tissue around the infected follicle to be damaged. In many cases, once the infection is gone, the tissue is too damaged to return to its normal state. This damage appears in two distinct types of acne scars, scars caused by increased tissue formation and scars caused by tissue loss.

Scars caused by increased tissue formation are called keloid scars. Keloid scars form when the skin responds to tissue injury by producing an excess of collagen, a substance that helps the skin regenerate. Too much collagen causes the production of excess tissue Page 22 to form over the damaged area. The results are keloid scars, which look like firm, shiny, flesh-colored lumps.

Acne scars that are caused by tissue loss occur when the body is unable to completely rebuild damaged tissue. Often called depressed, ice-pick, or pitted scars, these scars look like the skin has been pushed in, forming a soft depression with puckered edges. Pitted scars can be quite small, or they can be over a centimeter in diameter. Pitted scars are the most common type of acne scar and are commonly found on the face, back, and shoulders.

Fortunately, not every person who has acne develops acne scars. Doctors are unable to predict accurately whether or not a person with acne will develop scars. However, in most cases, as the severity of a person’s acne increases so does the amount of tissue damage. Since acne scars result from damaged tissue, individuals who suffer the most tissue damage are most at risk of developing acne scars. Generally, these are individuals with severe cases of acne.

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