Adult Acne and Acne Scarring

acne scarring patient

Adult Acne

One of the most common skin diseases worldwide, acne, is an inflammatory condition that can affect both adolescents and adults. Though it is typically associated with puberty, many patients notice acne developing in their twenties and beyond. Though the condition is notoriously difficult to treat, our skin specialists at Dermacare in San Diego and Carlsbad use effective and innovative methods and techniques to help patients correct adult acne and restore a smoother, healthier complexion.

What Causes Adult Acne?

Acne begins when the pores of the skin become clogged with old and dead skin cells. Since the dermis produces excessive amounts of oil known as sebum, these dead cells stick together and create pore blockages. Bacteria known as P. acnes can worsen the condition, causing inflammation of the skin and around the pore. As the bacteria gradually multiply, cysts and nodules begin to form.

Though acne can be genetic in some cases, there is usually one or more triggers that bring about the condition. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations – menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum period or breastfeeding.
  • Contact irritation – skin irritation causes a protective reaction, leading to inflammation (this may include harsh cleansers or razors used against dry skin).
  • Emotional stress – creates biological changes and hormonal imbalances in the body.
  • Physical stress – lack of sleep, illness or dehydration can cause weakened immunity, hormonal changes and inflammation.
  • Clogged pores – excess oil combined with rapid cell turnover can block hair follicles.
  • Bacteria – accumulates underneath the skin and cannot always be reached through surface cleaning.
  • Foods – sweets, dairy products and oils are believed to disagree with some skin types.
  • Medications – certain corticosteroids and antidepressants can also trigger acne.

Types of Adult Acne

Adult acne is generally divided into two types: non-inflammatory, which is milder, and inflammatory, which is more severe. Non-inflammatory acne refers to blemishes such as whiteheads and blackheads, while inflammatory acne usually causes papules, pustules (pimples), nodules and cysts, and is more likely to cause pitting or scarring.

Treatment Options for Adult Acne

At Dermacare Laser & Skin Care Clinics in Rancho Bernardo and Carlsbad, we offer patients various options for treating active acne, including:

Blue Light therapy

An effective, comfortable and non-invasive treatment, blue light therapy uses the highly advanced BLU-U® 4170 system to kill P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne vulgaris. At Dermacare, we perform this treatment approximately twice a week for five weeks to help patients address moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris.

Levulan Photodynamic Therapy

In a two-step procedure, a light-absorbing agent called Levulan is applied to prepare your skin for a specialized blue light, which targets oil glands and cysts and creates strong oxygen radicals to kill the bacteria responsible for acne. This highly developed therapy can help to control cystic acne, reduce pore size, decrease oiliness, prevent scarring and restore a smoother skin tone.

Deep Pore Treatments

At Dermacare, we offer deep-cleansing treatments that work to detoxify acne-prone or problematic skin. By combining essential ingredients and acids, these facials can penetrate pores, kill bacteria, reduce inflammation and remove excess cell debris to leave your skin nourished, hydrated and clear.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels offer a fast, convenient and customizable method that rapidly exfoliates the skin and allows dead cells to shed more effectively. By removing the damaged cells, chemical peels can prevent excess oil from clogging the hair follicles, resulting in fewer pore blockages and pimples.

Acne Scarring

When left untreated, acne can result in permanent indentations and textural marks on the skin. Though various creams, ointments, gels and remedies claim to reduce the appearance of acne scarring, professional cosmetic treatment generally provides the most reliable and effective solution. At Dermacare, our skincare experts will examine your condition to determine which procedure is most suitable for you.

What Causes Acne Scarring?

Acne scarring is typically the result of inflamed lesions. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when a wound (or pimple) causes the skin to become inflamed. As your body works to heal the source of irritation, it produces too much melanin, which discolors and darkens the skin. This discoloration tends to remain even after the area has recovered. In cases of severe acne, large pus-filled spaces called cysts develop on the skin and destroy the tissue. Scarring occurs naturally as the body works to heal the damage. When the cyst empties and the area recovers, an indentation is usually left on the skin.

Types of Acne Scarring

Acne scars can develop in various forms on the skin. The types of acne scarring include:

  • Ice-pick scars – deep, narrow, pitted scars that extend into the dermis
  • Rolling scars – rolling or wave-like depressions with a sloping edge
  • Boxcar scars – round or oval depressions with steep vertical sides
  • Atrophic scars – flat, thin or depressed scars
  • Hypertrophic or keloid scars – thick and lumpy scars

Treatment Options for Acne Scarring

At Dermacare San Diego, our acne scar treatments range from non-invasive to comprehensive and long-lasting. Depending on your condition, our skincare specialists can determine the most suitable method of acne scar removal and tailor the procedure to your unique needs.

Microneedling (with PRP)

An increasingly popular rejuvenation technique, microneedling creates micro-wounds within the dermis that trigger the body’s natural healing processes. This method stimulates collagen production to replenish the underlying tissue, soften facial blemishes and smoothen out textural irregularities. Some patients choose to combine microneedling with PRP for a more holistic skin restoration treatment. At Dermacare, we perform microneedling to help patients reduce acne scarring and restore a naturally healthier, more radiant complexion.


Bellafill is a facial injectable that offers a practical, long-lasting solution for patients with deeper acne scars. This product uses smooth collagen gel to lift and essentially push out unsightly marks and indentations. With minimal discomfort and no downtime, Bellafill can significantly improve the appearance of acne scarring for up to twelve months.

IPL FotoFacial

A non-invasive approach to skin rejuvenation, our IPL FotoFacial at Dermacare can enhance your skin tone and improve surface imperfections associated with acne, age and photodamage. Using Cutera’s highly developed LimeLight, IPL can help you achieve smoother skin on the face, neck and décolleté in just weeks.

Schedule Your Acne Scar Treatment at Dermacare

Adult acne and acne scarring can adversely affect both your emotional and physical wellbeing. At our state-of-the-art facilities in San Diego, we offer various treatment methods to address these conditions and restore a healthier, smoother appearance. To learn more about your treatment options, contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.