An injury, accident, or surgery can leave a noticeable reminder on your skin. If it's prominent, it can also make you feel self-conscious.
When your skin is injured, your body generates new tissue to repair the damage. This thickened tissue forms scars.
Did you know there are different types of scars?
Scars Range in Size and Overall Appearance
Thin, flat scars do not usually cause a lot of physical or emotional distress once they are healed. However, they can grow wider if they are located in areas where there is constant movement, such as your knee.
Unlike flat scars, keloid scars are puffy and stick out from the surrounding skin. In some cases, they cause itching and discomfort. Keloids are often difficult to treat with over-the-counter remedies.
These scars look similar to keloids and are typically raised and red. But unlike keloids, they do not spread outside of the injury site.
Severe burns not only take a long time to heal from. They can create permanent scars called contractures, in which substantial tissue loss has occurred.
How can I distinguish between different types of scars?
Scars Can Disrupt the Smoothness and Tone of Your Skin
Scars are patches of thickened, new skin that your body produces as a part of the natural healing process.
Accidents happen. But what increases my risk of poor scarring?
Your Age and the Location On Your Body Can Affect How You Scar
In general, younger people heal faster than older people since their skin produces collagen at a quicker rate.
The location of your injury can also determine how fast or slowly the scar heals. If the injury occurs on your knee or elbow where movement is constant, it can spread over time.
What are some other reasons why I might have scars?
Some Scars Are Not Caused by Accidents
Most chicken pox scars are small, but can make you feel self-conscious if they are on a very visible area such as your face.
Although your doctor will work carefully to close incisions, a medically necessary procedure such as a C-section or orthopedic surgery can leave visible scarring.
Small lesions left behind by acne usually heal quickly, but deeper breaks in your pore walls can create deep scars that are not as smooth as your surrounding skin.
But why do I need treatment? Don't a lot of people have scars?
Millions of People Get New Scars Each Year
*According to the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, South Manchester University Hospital
How do doctors diagnose scars?
A Visual Screening Can Help Your Doctor Determine the Best Treatment
A simple visual exam will reveal what type of scar you have and what the best treatment options are.
It is important to see a doctor before attempting any treatments on your own because certain types of skin cancer can resemble scars. An exam can help rule out any abnormalities.
Is there a way to prevent poor scarring?
Properly Caring for Your Wound Can Promote Healing and Minimize Scarring
Your body begins healing as soon as your injury happens, so taking good care of your wound is the best way to prevent noticeable scarring. To reduce the appearance of a scar, be sure to:
Keep Your Skin Clean
Guard against germs and bacteria, which can cause infection and compromise healing, by washing your wound with soap and water as needed.
Moisturize the Area
By covering your injury site in petroleum jelly, you can prevent the area from getting too dry and forming a scab.
Protect the Wound
Use an adhesive bandage to prevent additional damage. Make sure to change it daily.
When in doubt, see your doctor so they can determine whether you need stitches. Cuts that are too deep to be treated at home can become infected or heal poorly without proper medical care.
What treatments are available?
There Are Many Treatment Options, and Some Are Highly Effective
"A board-certified dermatologist has the training and experience required to tell you:
- What type(s) of scar you have
- If a scar is likely to fade with time
- When to treat the scar to get the best results
- What treatment is recommended." American Academy of Dermatology Association
Laser and Light Therapy: Highly Effective Yet Gentle
Some of the most sought-after treatments for scarring are laser and light therapies. These non-invasive procedures are very effective and could dramatically reduce the size and shape of your scar. Treatment boasts a 70 percent success rate for reducing keloids and hypertrophic scars.
Are there other options?
I'm ready to do something about my scar...
See a Doctor to Discuss Your Options
Although treatment does not guarantee that your scar will disappear completely, it can give you peace of mind knowing that you are actively working towards reducing its appearance. A doctor can evaluate your unique condition and determine which treatment will be most effective. To get started, schedule a consultation.