Scars from Picking the Face

Picking at your face to squeeze acne pimples or as a compulsive disorder can have longterm effects 1. Picking damages the upper layers of skin, which can result in unsightly scarring. While it may be tempting to pick at or pop pimples and other skin imperfections, allowing them to heal on their own is the best way to prevent scarring.

Types of Scars

Scars from picking at your face are usually appear as depressed imperfections. Boxcar scars are shallow scars that vary in size and resemble large pores with noticeable borders. Icepick scars are deeper and typically smaller than boxcar scars; they resemble small, deep puncture wounds in the skin. Rolling scars create an uneven or bumpy appearance with shallow areas surrounded by raised scarring. Keloid scars are raised areas that give the skin a bumpy appearance. Other scars are red, brown or white spots or patches left behind after acne breakouts or excessive picking. Discolored scars that do not penetrate the skin tend to fade with time.

How They Form

Raised keloid scars form from collagen that builds up around damaged areas of skin. They are more common in African Americans. If other members in your family have keloid scars, you are more likely to develop them yourself, according to the American Academy of Dermatology 4. Icepick, rolling and boxcar scars form after a loss of tissue. When you pick at your face, the damage can cause the tissue to die and leave a depressed scar.

Treatment Choices

Surgery, fillers and other medical treatments can reduce the appearance of scars. Scar surgery raises depressed scars to help them blend in with the surrounding skin. Injecting fillers, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid or your own fat, into depressed facial scars immediately makes them less noticeable, but the results typically last only a few months to a few years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology 4. Visit a dermatologist to discuss laser treatment, chemical peels or dermabrasion procedures.

Leave Your Face Alone

If other people in your family have scars from picking at facial skin, it is particularly important for you to avoid doing so. How your skin reacts to damage is, in part, genetic, especially with regard to raised scars from excess collagen. Many scar-reduction treatments require several sessions to see vast improvement, and they can be costly -- ranging from several hundred to more than $1,000 per session. Chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser treatments can leave the skin red, peeling, irritated and extremely sensitive to sunlight for several weeks after each session.


Allowing blemishes to heal on their own is the best way to prevent facial scarring. If you have severe or cystic acne, talk to your dermatologist about a skincare regimen to help you clear up the condition and prevent scarring. If you suffer from compulsive skin picking, discuss your problem with your doctor or psychiatrist to come up with a treatment plan 1.