Acne &
Acne Scars

medical dermatology

What are acne and acne scars?

Acne is a common condition arising from the inflammation of the skin’s oil glands. It can present as whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps, or pus-filled lumps. Although it most commonly occurs on the face, it can also appear on the back, chest, shoulders, and neck.

As a common skin concern, acne can affect most people at some point, usually during their teenage years. However, contrary to popular belief, acne is not confined to teenagers only. While most people outgrow acne by their late teens, some continue to be affected well into adulthood.

In some cases, acne can also cause scarring and leave dark marks. Aside from the discolouration (which can vary in intensity), acne scars can sometimes even change the texture of the skin, resulting in pitting or protrusions on the skin.

Acne Removal
Acne Scar Treatment

How serious is acne?

There are 3 common groups of acne sufferers. The first group consists of common teenage acne that clears up after a few years. The second group concerns those who would experience the severe and stubborn inflamed kind, and warrant more aggressive treatment to eradicate the problem. The third group is the adult-onset acne who experiences acne outbreak for the first time as an adult.

Acne eruptions do come and go, but unfortunately some are left with acne scars and marks that may be permanent if left untreated. And it is impossible to predict which patient will scar. Therefore, this condition is not a trivial matter and should be treated early and thoroughly.

Acne May Be Unsightly & Uncomfortable, But It Is Treatable.

Specialist Skin Clinic offers a wide range of acne treatments carefully tailor-made for all skin types. Contact us at +65 6734 1411 today for a prompt and detailed consultation.

Why am I getting acne?

  • There is an increase in the production of the sex hormones (androgens) during puberty. This results in an increase in the size and activity of the oil glands (sebaceous glands), especially those located on the face, neck and upper body. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum.
  • Some skin cells lining the wall of the pore (hair follicle) become excessively sticky, therefore plugging up the pores and entrapping the sebum.
  • The increased amount of sebum and dead skin cells contribute to the growth of bacteria deep in the pores. The bacteria in turn cause an inflammatory reaction that result in red painful lumps of acne.
  • There is some tendency for the condition to occur in the same family members. This indicates a possible genetic predisposition for this condition.
  • Use of inappropriate cosmetics and creams, or the oral consumption of certain medications and hormones are other causes of pimples.
Treatment for Acne Scars
Acne Scar Treatments

Is there anything I can do about my acne?

Yes! You can clear acne and prevent acne scar formation! However there is no single one-size-fits-all treatment formula. Our Acne Treatment Program is specially designed to treat your skin problem and are tailored accordingly to your needs.

Nowadays we have a wide range of acne and acne scar treatments. To achieve best results, you are advised to go through the whole program with your dermatologist.

What causes acne scarring?

Acne damages the skin's tissue and the top layer of the skin. This causes the skin to try and repair itself by producing collagen, which helps to replace the tissue that has been damaged. However, too much or too little collagen production can lead to acne scarring.

With inadequate collagen, the skin will not develop enough tissue to repair the damage, leading to skin depressions called atrophic scars. On the other hand, excessive collagen production may lead to raised scars, also known as hypertrophic scars.

Factors that increase one’s risk of developing acne scarring include:

  • Genetics – Sometimes, acne scarring has a hereditary factor and those with a family of acne scarring may be more likely to also develop acne scars.
  • Picking or popping acne – This can push the debris further down into deeper layers of the skin, leading to deeper damage and slower healing.
  • Sun exposure – Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause hyperpigmentation, making acne marks darker and more noticeable.
  • Puberty – Hormonal changes during puberty may put one at a higher risk of getting acne breakouts, which in turn, makes one more prone to scarring.
  • Delaying or not treating inflammatory acne – Inflammatory acne causes deeper and more severe damage to the skin, which increases the risk of more serious scarring. Prompt treatment from a dermatologist will lower the risk and intensity of that effect.

What are the types of acne scars?

  • Atrophic scars – These are depressions in the skin caused by not having enough collagen while healing. This type of acne scar is divided into three subtypes:

    • Ice pick scars – The most common type of atrophic scars, these scars are small but create deep holes in the skin, sometimes resembling a “V” shape.
    • Boxcar scars – These scars are round or oval-shaped with sharp edges and look like chicken pox scars.
    • Rolling scars – These scars are very shallow with soft, smooth edges. They create wide depressions in the skin with a rolling or uneven appearance, like an “M” pattern.
  • Hypertrophic and keloid scars – These are raised scars that occur when the body produces too much collagen during the healing process, resulting in the overgrowth of scar tissue. They are commonly found in the chest, back, or jawline.

How can I get rid of acne scars?

While acne scars do not affect one’s physical health, they can have a negative impact on one’s confidence. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available to make acne scars appear lighter and more even in texture.

The treatment for acne scars depends on the type of scarring and its severity. Some well-established treatments include laser treatments and subcutaneous incisions (subcision). These procedures are best performed by dermatologists for optimal safety and efficacy.

In short, our Acne and Acne Scar Treatment Program consists of:


Active acne must first be cleared with the appropriate washes, medicinal creams, skin care routine, and/or oral medication (which includes oral antibiotics, oral isotretinoin or contraceptive pills), and sometimes microdermabrasion, and laser treatment (eg Smoothbeam laser).


Once clearance is achieved, continuous control with the appropriate products and skin care routine are essential to prevent or minimize future relapse.


Red marks, brown marks, raised acne scars and depressed acne scars left behind by acne can be treated with a wide range of clinical procedures and lasers without unnecessary downtime:

  • Red marks can be treated with IPL (intense pulsed light). IPL works by constricting the tiny congested blood vessels and therefore clears up the red marks, flush and blush of acne.
  • Brown marks can be treated with lightening creams, SilkpeelTM dermalinfusion microdermabrasion or IPL in resistant cases.
  • Raised lumpy scars (keloids) benefit from injections of cortisone to soften and flatten them.
  • Deep depressed scars and ice-pick scars may benefit from minor surgical procedures like subcision and punch excision.
  • Superficial depressed scars can be smoothened out with MiXto fractional CO2 laser treatment and/or skin filler injections.
  • Very superficial uneven scars can be softened with microdermabrasion treatment.
Acne Scar Removal

What else do I need to know about managing acne?

  • Do not squeeze or scratch pimples. Avoid facials, scrubs, masks and exfoliants when your acne is inflamed.
  • Do not wash with harsh soaps. Wash away the surface oil with a good gentle soap.
  • Have a well-balanced diet.
  • Use reliable water-based, oil-free cosmetics.
  • Stick close to your doctor’s prescription. Feel free to check with your doctor if you have any doubts about the treatment or side effects or for some reason, your condition is not improving.
  • Certain birth control pills and hormone medications can worsen your skin condition. Do discuss with your skin doctor.
  • Stress and lack of sleep may aggravate acne.
In summary…
  • Acne is treatable
  • Acne scar is preventable
  • Seek treatment early
  • Sometimes your acne may worsen initially before it gets better.
  • Occasionally it may take a few months to see definite results.
  • Discuss with your doctor if certain treatments are seemingly not working for you, or you are not comfortable with the medications prescribed for you because there are other alternatives available that would help.

Exercise patience - you will be pleasantly surprised how much you can improve.

FAQ on Acne & Acne Scars

  • At what age does one get acne?

    Acne can happen at any age but it usually begins in puberty due to the increased production of hormones called androgens, which stimulate the oil glands and lead to excess oil production.

  • Can I still wear makeup if I have acne?

    Yes, you can. We recommend that you use oil-free, non-comedogenic makeup to minimise clogging the pores. Most importantly, be sure to wash off your makeup cleanly at the end of each day.

  • Is applying toothpaste effective in eliminating acne?

    No. In fact, toothpaste may cause more harm than good as it contains ingredients that are not suitable for the face and can further irritate the skin.

  • How long does it take for acne scars to fade?

    Mild to moderate acne scars usually start to fade within a few weeks following treatment, such as laser treatment. However, in cases of severe acne scars, it may take a few months.

  • Can acne scars be prevented?

    While acne scars cannot be completely prevented, the following can reduce its severity:

    • 1. Refrain from popping your pimples
    • 2. Protect your skin from sun damage using sunscreen
    • 3. Keep your skin moisturised
    • 4. Reduce inflammation using appropriate topical spot treatments
    • 5. See a dermatologist to manage acne problems early
  • Do "heaty" foods cause acne?

    There is no conclusive evidence that foods cause or worsen acne. However, the consumption of chocolates and use of whey protein supplements (found in certain protein supplements used by gym-goers) may cause more acne breakouts or worsen acne as shown in some scientific studies.

  • Can stress cause acne?

    Although stress does not directly cause acne, it can cause hormonal changes that slow the healing of existing acne, or even cause it to worsen.

  • Can acne scars go away on their own?

    Generally, acne scars do not resolve on their own and dermatological treatment is necessary to effectively lighten the scars and smoothen the skin’s texture.

  • Can acne be caused by poor hygiene?

    No, poor hygiene does not cause acne. In fact, washing your face too frequently or aggressively can irritate and dry out the skin, thereby worsening acne. Instead, use mild cleansers twice a day to cleanse your face gently, and seek professional help from a dermatologist to properly address your acne problems.

Our Dermatologists

Our team of dermatologists with a combined experience of more than 60 years provides a complete range of professional dermatological services to manage all varieties of skin problems affecting the skin, hair and nails and also sexually transmitted infections. They are equally adept at performing skin surgery and laser procedures.