Prevalence and Risk Factors of Acne Scarring Among Patients Consulting Dermatologists in the USA

J Drugs Dermatol. 2017 Feb 1;16(2):97-102.


Although there have been few formal studies, scarring is a known bothersome companion of acne vulgaris. We performed a prospective study of subjects consulting a dermatologist for active acne to assess the frequency of acne scarring. Investigators performed a short questionnaire on all acne patients seen at their office for one consecutive 5-day work week to assess scar frequency. Additionally, the first four subjects with acne scars identified were enrolled for a second phase (scar cohort) of the study during which the investigator collected further medical history and performed a clinical evaluation and the patient completed a self-administered questionnaire about scar perceptions and impact on quality of life. A total of 1,972 subjects were evaluated by 120 investigators. Among these, 43 percent (n=843) had acne scarring. Subjects with acne scars were significantly more likely to have severe or very severe acne (P less than .01); however, 69% of the subjects with acne scars had mild or moderate acne at the time of the study visit. Risk factors correlated with increased likelihood of scarring were acne severity, time between acne onset and first effective treatment, relapsing acne, and male gender. Treatments that can completely resolve acne scars are not yet available - prevention and early treatment remain a primary strategy against scars. It is vital for clinicians who manage individuals with acne to institute effective therapy as early as possible, since treatment delay is a key modifiable risk factor for scarring.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cicatrix / classification
  • Cicatrix / epidemiology*
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult