Where does acne scar the most?

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages, though it is most prevalent among teenagers and young adults. It occurs when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells, leading to whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. While most acne lesions heal without leaving permanent scarring, moderate to severe acne can potentially lead to different types of scarring on the face and body. Understanding where acne scars are most likely to occur can help patients and dermatologists prevent and treat scarring.

What Causes Acne Scarring?

Acne scars form when there is damage to the deeper layers of the skin during an acne lesion or injury. This triggers the body’s wound healing process, including collagen production. With moderate to severe acne, the body can produce too much collagen, leading to raised scars, or too little, resulting in depressed scars. The type and extent of scarring depends on factors like:

– Severity of acne – More inflamed lesions increase risk of scarring
– Delay in treatment – Waiting to treat acne raises scarring risk
– Skin picking – Popping pimples can damage skin and cause scarring
– Genetics – Some people are prone to overproduction of collagen

Facial Areas Prone to Acne Scarring

The face is the most common area affected by acne scarring. Certain parts of the face are more likely to scar from acne due to having more oil glands and thinner skin. Areas prone to facial scarring include:


The cheeks contain a high concentration of oil glands, making them very acne-prone. Acne here often leads to scarring like ice pick and boxcar scars. The cheeks’ round shape and contour changes also make scars more noticeable.

Chin and Jawline

The chin and jawline are also very susceptible to scarring from acne. The chin in particular sticks out, making scars easily visible. Scars like depressions and raised bumps can impact the facial contour along the jaw and be difficult to conceal.


While the forehead does not have as many oil glands, the thin skin can be prone to scarring from acne. Scars on the forehead are highly visible and can be difficult to cover up with makeup or hairstyles.


The temples also have thin skin overlying bone with little fat or muscle padding. Acne scars here tend to sink into the skin in depressed patterns that heavily impact the facial contours.


Along the hairline at the forehead and temples, picking at acne lesions can lead to boxcar and ice pick scarring. The hairline frames the face, accentuating the look of scars.

Body Areas Prone to Acne Scarring

While less common than on the face, body acne can also contribute to scarring in some individuals. Areas prone to acne scarring include:


The back has the highest concentration of sebaceous glands after the face. Bacne often results in scars with a ragged, wrinkled appearance. The uneven texture stands out, especially on the upper back and shoulders.


Acne on the chest caused by sweat, hormones, and skin irritation leads to scarring similar to the face – usually depressed or pitted scars. Scarring can be worsened by picking. The scars are easily visible on the otherwise smooth chest area.

Upper Arms

The upper arms and shoulders are prone to acne scars that have a stippled texture. Scarring can be aggravated by friction from clothing and carrying backpacks.

Acne Scar Patterns and Shapes

Beyond location, acne scars also differ in their patterns and shapes on the skin’s surface. Common types include:

Ice Pick Scars

Ice pick scars are narrow, deep pits in the surface of the skin that look like a hole was punched in the skin. They are usually less than 2 millimeters wide and have sharp edges. Ice pick scars result from inflammation penetrating deep in the dermis.

Boxcar Scars

Boxcar scars are round depressions with steep, vertical edges, similar to chickenpox scars. The sharp edges give the scar its name resemblance to a boxcar. They form from wider loss of tissue compared to ice picks.

Rolling Scars

Rolling scars create an uneven, undulating skin surface from bands of scar tissue under the skin. They have a wavy appearance from the valleys and peaks of scar tissue below.

Hypertrophic Scars

In contrast to depressed scars, hypertrophic and keloid scars are raised above the skin. They form from excess collagen production during wound healing, creating firm, smooth bumps that can continue to grow over time.

Preventing Acne Scarring

While genetics play a role, taking proactive steps can help prevent permanent acne scarring:

– Avoid picking and popping pimples to limit skin damage
– Treat acne lesions with over-the-counter and prescription products early
– Use retinoids to unplug follicles and anti-inflammatory ingredients
– Consider professional treatments like chemical peels and laser resurfacing
– Wear sunscreen daily to protect from sun damage worsening scars

Seeing a board-certified dermatologist at the first signs of moderate acne development can help mitigate the chances of permanent scarring.

Treatment Options for Acne Scars

For those with acne scarring, a number of effective treatment options are available, including:

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Ablative and non-ablative lasers penetrate the skin to stimulate collagen and remodel scar tissue. Used for both shallow and deep scars.

Chemical Peels

Chemical solutions like salicylic acid or trichloroacetic acid remove damaged skin so healthier tissue can regenerate. Improves surface scars.


Microneedles puncture the skin to create micro-injuries that stimulate collagen and remodeling. Mainly improves depressed scars.


Uses a rotating brush or abrasive tool to remove the top layers of damaged skin. Effective for raised scars.

Filler Injections

Fillers like hyaluronic acid temporarily raise indented scars for smoother skin. Provides a non-permanent improvement.

Surgical Excision

Cutting out severe scars lets new skin fill in through stitches or a skin graft. Used for individual deep scars.


A needle or probe cuts under scars to detach tethered skin and promote collagen generation. Smooths rolling scars.

A customized treatment plan taking into account all scar types, locations, and causes leads to the best improvement. Multiple sessions are usually needed.


Acne scarring is a common occurrence that can significantly impact appearance and self-esteem. The face – especially the cheeks, chin, and forehead – are most prone to scarring from inflammatory acne lesions. The back, chest, shoulders and upper arms are also susceptible. Scars take on characteristic patterns like ice pick, boxcar, and rolling shapes. Preventing scars requires early acne treatment and not picking at pimples. For existing scars, ablative lasers, chemical peels, microneedling, and resurfacing procedures can improve their appearance. With persistence and expert care, acne scarring can be successfully minimized for improved skin smoothness and tone.


Source Reference
American Academy of Dermatology Acne scars: Overview and options for treatment. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/scars
Johns Hopkins Medicine Acne Scarring Types, Causes, Treatments, and Prevention. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/acne-scarring
Skin Therapy Letter New Developments in Scar Management. https://www.skintherapyletter.com/scarring/new-developments-scar-management/

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