Everyone Has Scars
Scars are a part of life. My knees are full of them from a childhood spent outdoors and getting into trouble. With time, scars become less prominent and blend into the surrounding skin. Scars fade but never completely. If you’ve had a wound big enough to make a scar lately then you’ve probably noticed that your scar isn’t healing like it used to when you were a kid. Scars take longer to heal when you’re older. There are several different types of scars. If you’ve had some lingering questions about scars, keep reading to find out more.
How to Prevent Scars
Scars form due to big wounds. They can form in small wounds that become infected. Infection is the enemy of wound closure. The cells and inflammatory state present in infections cause poor wound healing. Keeping your wound cleaning by changing the dress often and washing with soap and water will go a long way to preventing an unsightly scar. Keeping your wound moist is another good way to avoid scars. Contrary to popular belief, a dry wound is not always the best wound.
Why do scars develop?
Scars develop after wounds because your skin is trying to heal. If a wound is big enough, your skin may have to have repair that damage by forming a scar. Scars contain collagen. Collagen is a tough, fibrous protein that is present all over your body in different types. Scars are mostly made of Type 1 collagen.
There are different types of scars. Some scars form depressions or holes in your skin. These are called atrophic scars. Other scars rise above the level of your skin and are called hypertrophic scars. Lastly, in some people you can develop keloid scars.
Types of Scars
Atrophic scars most commonly develop due to acne or chickenpox. Once the acne lesion has resolved, you can be left with a small dimple or hole where that acne lesion once was. This is because the underlying support of fat or muscle is lost.
You can minimize the look of atrophic scars with chemical peels, fillers, or lasers. Some doctors also use microneedling, and platelet rich plasma to help regenerate the lost skin seen in atrophic scars.
Hypertrophic scar are large, raised scars. Unlike the faint scars on my knees from childhood, a hypertrophic scar will be readily visible on the skin. You will feel it when you run your hand over it.
Hypertrophic scars will initially be treated with steroid injections directly into the scar. This can be repeated a few times and may result in contraction of the scar. Hypertrophic scars can also be excised through surgery. It is important to make sure that this is not a keloid scar before attempting to remove it.
We’ve all seen a really big scar at some point or another. How can we differentiate a big scar from a keloid? Keloids will grow out of the bounds of the original wound. Keloid scars most commonly develop in people with dark skin colors. A person usually finds out they are a keloid former when they get their ears pierced. A simple ear piercing can lead to a large scar on the earlobe that is not consistent with the extent of the injury.
Keloid scars can be treated with injections of steroids directly into the keloid scars. Trying to excise the scar with surgery will almost always result in a worse scar. If you form keloids, you are prone to forming them for the rest of your life. Any surgery will lead to large scars.
How to Take Care of Scars
Taking care of your wound in the immediate period after injury and for the first few months is very important. The number one thing you will need to do is keep your wound moist while it’s healing. This can be done with simple petroleum jelly (Vaseline). You don’t need to spend crazy amounts of money on a scar cream. There are many creams and gels available for scars . You can try collagen-based products to help with wound healing. After keeping your wound from drying out, the next most important thing is keeping it protected from the sun. Sun damage impairs wound healing and will make for an uglier scar. Applying sunscreen consistently to the scar will result in a better cosmetic appearance. Like with any skin condition, sunscreen will usually help.
Do you have any bothersome scars? What have you tried in the past to help remove them?
- Gozali, Maya Valeska, and Bingrong Zhou. “Effective treatments of atrophic acne scars.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology5 (2015): 33.