Are Blemish Scars & Hyperpigmentation the Same Thing?

It can be so frustrating that even when your skin is finally clear of active breakouts, you're still left behind with dark spots or dents. Hyperpigmentation and blemish scarring are both common reminders of your past blemishes. While it’s easy to confuse the two, they’re actually different — as are their treatment methods. We’re here to clear up your confusion, and your spots!

A closeup of acne scars and hyperpigmentation

3 minute read


What is hyperpigmentation?

The word hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term — meaning it refers to a huge variety of dark spots on the skin, including age spots, liver spots, and blemish scarring. Unlike actual scars though, which are raised or dented on skin, hyperpigmentation is just a darker area of skin. While a breakout is still healing, these spots might start off as purple or red before fading into a darker tone of the surrounding skin.

These hyperpigmentation spots are caused when too much melanin is created on the skin’s outer layers. Usually, this extra melanin production is the skin’s response and attempt to protect or heal itself, like after a blemish. While some dark spots can fade over time, the fading process depends on two things: the origin of the spot and skin type. The good news is, there are tons of lightening and brightening products on the market designed specifically to minimise the look of hyperpigmentation of all kinds.

SLMD Retinol Serum

To start, there’s a wide variety of products like targeted solutions, serums, masks, and more, made with a blend of potent ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and salicylic acid that will work to reveal a more radiant, even-looking complexion.

The best way to prevent dark marks from blemishes (aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) is to manage your breakouts. SLMD Blemish-Prone Skin System manages spots at every stage, while Salicylic Acid Spot Corrector is ideal for targeting breakthrough blemishes.

What are blemish scars?

A closeup of acne scars

Just like there are many different types of hyperpigmentation and dark spots, there are several different kinds of blemish scars. Here are four of the most common scars:

  • Boxcar Scars: Shallow with sharper edges
  • Icepick Scars: Depressions in your skin due to a lack of collagen
  • Keloids: Discolored, bumpy and raised
  • Rolling Scars: Wavy and shallow texture

The way your skin scars depends both on your skin type and the type of breakout you most frequently get — papules, pustules, nodules, or cysts are the most common kinds of inflammatory spots that lead to scarring. You could experience several different types of blemish scars, but it's best to manage your breakouts right away to minimise all forms of scarring.

Whereas topical solutions can be very effective for minimising dark spots and hyperpigmentation, in-office procedures are likely a better resort to treat scars. For instance, cortisone shots work well for keloid scars, while laser and chemical resurfacing treatments are ideal for icepick, rolling and boxcar scars. You can consult with your dermatologist to get a better idea of what will work best for you.

Dr. Lee's last word

There’s no ultimate cure for blemish scarring or hyperpigmentation, but the right products or treatments can be effective ways to improve and prevent them.

—Dr. Sandra Lee


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