Ice Pick Scars: What are they? Causes and Treatment


Acne is a kind of inflammation of the skin that is caused when the pores have been clogged up due to high levels of sebum production, dirt, and dead skin cells. Most of the time, high sebum production and acne itself are caused due to hormonal imbalances in the body. This is why it is mainly seen during adolescence when your hormones are all over the place. Today we talk about ice pick scars.

How does acne leave scars?

Most of the time, acne leaves your skin without a mark or a scar. That is if you do not do anything about it. By this, we mean, if you tend to pick on your acne and pinch them, it is most likely to leave a scar. However, in extreme cases of acne, where they occur in groups, they could burst, which is most likely to leave a scar on your face.

What are the different kinds of scars?

There are three main types of scars that people encounter on their faces:

  1. Boxcar Scars
  2. Ice-Pick Scars
  3. Rolling Scars

Ice-pick scars are the slightly more severe form of scarring that you may come across.

They are deep and narrow scars caused due to acne and are usually considered to be worse than Boxcar and Rolling scars. 

These scars, unlike the others, are not broad and flat. They can have a deep impression on your face and are usually caused due to cystic acne and papules. These forms of acne are the more severe kinds of acne. The kinds of scars left behind by them are known as atrophic scarring. They leave depressions in your skin, unlike hypertrophic scarring that’s usually above the skin level.

Ice Pick Scar Treatments

 1. Punch grafting

Punch grafting is a method where the scar is replaced with skin. This is considered to be one of the best methods to treat ice-pick scars; however, you will need around 20 grafts to see visible results.

2. Punch excision

This is when the scar is cut and taken out, and the skin around it is closed from all sides. This is also considered to be one of the best methods. However, it doesn’t help with the discolouration of the skin that is usually seen around these scars.

3. Laser Resurfacing

In this method, a high-frequency laser beam is used to focus on the ice pick scar. There are two types of lasers that you can use for this treatment. These are classified as ablative lasers as well as non-ablative lasers. The ablative lasers only work to remove the layers of the skin. In contrast, the non-ablative lasers work by promoting collagen production.

With this method, you could also reduce redness, acne, blisters, swelling, severe itching, and changes in skin colour. However, the downside of this is that your skin could get incredibly sensitive, especially when it comes to UV rays. This could, in turn, cause more problems if you do not take proper care.

4. Microneedling

This is a treatment where fine needles are punctured into your skin to initiate peeling, which then causes the production of elastin and collagen in your skin.

5. Microdermabrasion

In this process, the upper layers of your skin are mechanically removed using a roller. It is like a skin resurfacing treatment.

6. Chemical peels

Chemical peels, as the name suggests, are used to peel the top layers of the skin, thus making the scars seem more shallow and reducing their depth.

Risks of treatment for ice pick scars

All these treatments come with a certain amount of risk factors. The main concern is the care you give to your skin post these treatments. As most treatments increase the sensitivity of your skin, it is crucial to take good care of your skin, especially when you’re going out in the sun. Exposure could lead to pigmentation and acne all over again. We recommend that you always physically cover your skin to protect it as well as apply a good sunscreen.

Do Ice Pick scars require surgery to be removed?

There are surgical methods that can be used to remove these scars. However, there are other non-invasive methods as well, such as the ones mentioned above. 


All the treatments mentioned above must be considered only after visiting a certified dermatologist. They should also be performed only by a medical professional, dermatologist or a skin specialist that you trust.

The silver lining

Scars can be an aftereffect of acne that we want to avoid at all costs. While there are ways to prevent your acne from leaving scars, you cannot always avoid it. That is why the treatments above exist to help you get rid of them. You don’t have to live with them if you don’t want to.


1. What are ice pick scars?

Ice pick scars are deep narrow scars caused due to acne.

2. How can ice pick scars be removed?

Ice pick scars need medical treatments, like punch grafting, punch excision, or laser treatment, if you want to get completely rid of them.

3. Are ice pick scars associated with acne?

Yes, ice pick scars are mainly caused due to severe acne, like cysts and papules, which infect the pores on your skin.

4. Are ice pick scars the same thing as pimple scars?

Ice pick scars are a type of acne scar.

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Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.