The Basics of Scars: Why It Happens and How You Can Treat It

Your skin is like a piece of silk. Just as a single, small tear is conspicuous enough to interrupt silk’s smooth appearance, so will your skin be altered by a scar. But what causes these irregularities on your skin? Any injury, burn, or form of physical trauma (e.g., surgery) will result in scarring; it’s part of the skin’s natural healing process.

Scarring alters the skin’s physical architecture, which explains the marks or dark spots you see — and continue seeing. The truth is your scars never completely vanish. What do you do with them, then? While smaller injuries usually heal with minor scarring, abnormal skin scarring can cause aesthetic, physical, social, and psychological concerns so you may want to find a way to remove them or reduce their appearance.

Some methods can help lighten the appearance or reduce the size of a scar. But first: the how of scarring.

The Science of Scars: How Does Scarring Happen?

Several things cause scars to form, but, in general, they result from any dermal injury (rare exceptions are superficial scratches, tattoos, and venepunctures). Your body creates new collagen fibers, a naturally occurring fiber, to mend the damage. A blood clot also forms on the skin’s surface (the epidermis) to cover the cut and form a scab. Scar formation occurs as your wound heals completely.

A scar’s appearance depends on multiple factors. The size and depth of the cut or wound and the injury’s location matter.

Other factors that determine the appearance of your scar include:

  • Skin tone - Individuals with lighter or fairer skin are more susceptible to noticeable scarring.
  • Age - Older skin contains less collagen, which makes it less elastic. Less skin elasticity means dermal injuries heal slower and frequently scar.
  • Hormones - Individual hormone levels affect the body’s likelihood of developing scars or incurring hyperpigmentation.

Scarring can also be a side effect or a complication of another condition. For example, if you have a rash (e.g., acne or chickenpox), you’ll have scars on the spot(s) where the rash was. They’re more likely to form if you pick at or scratch the affected areas.

What Are the Different Types of Scars?

There are different kinds of scars. Although a majority of wounds heal as pale, flat stretches of skin, other common types include:

Acne Scars

Severe acne leaves its marks on the skin, which are further categorized according to their characteristics: the so-called “icepick” scars for the deep pits they form; scars with deep and uneven depressions are boxcars while their less-defined cousin, rolling scars, have a wave-like appearance; lastly, hyperpigmentation concerns dark spots formed after the acne wounds heal.

Hypertrophic Scars

Hypertrophic scars are raised, red scars that do not expand beyond the spot of injury. This type of scar occurs when the skin overproduces collagen at the site of the wound, raising the scar tissue.

Atrophic Scars

Otherwise known as “pockmarks,” atrophic scars are sunken and recessed marks on the skin.

Contracture Scars

Burning causes contracture scars. This type of scar tightens the skin, which impairs one’s ability to move. Contracture scars can also go deeper, affecting nerves and muscles.

Keloid Scars

These scars occur when the skin’s healing process is overly aggressive. Keloid scars extend beyond the original injury and, over time, it can hamper movement. It is common among people with darker skin.

Stretch Marks

These marks appear as raised or indented lines that are either lighter (white) or darker (purple) than your skin tone. It occurs when the body experiences weight gain or growth that stretches the skin (e.g., pregnancy, growth spurts).

Scar Be Gone (Sightly): What Are Your Treatment Options?

People seek treatment for scars if they are itchy, painful, unsightly, or if they restrict movement. Although treatments won’t completely remove your scar, it can certainly improve their appearance. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for a procedure. Possible scar healing treatments may include:
  • Essential Oils - Essential oils reduce the appearance of scars by balancing your skin tone. Some even have wound-healing properties that reduce inflammation and redness, as well as prevent scar tissues from forming. Popular essential oils that reduce the appearance of scars include rosehip seed oil, helichrysum oil, and frankincense oil.

    Tea tree is one of the most popular essential oils that treat scars. It has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. Moreover, the oil has the potential to boost skin immunity and accelerate the wound healing process. Also, its anti-inflammatory properties can heal and treat scars and wounds.
  • Natural home remedies - Individuals who are not too keen on using over-the-counter products can turn to natural alternatives. Lemons, for example, are rich in Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that help lighten old scars and remove dead skin cells. Dip a cotton ball in lemon juice and dab it on the affected area. Keep it on for about 10 minutes before you rinse it off.

    Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce your skin’s irritation, encourage skin regeneration, and scar removal. Use either fresh or organic store-bought aloe vera gel on the affected areas. Massage it thoroughly and re-apply two to three times daily.
  • Over-the-counter or prescription ointments, creams, or gel - Prescription and over-the-counter remedies can treat scars due to wounds or injuries. These types of treatments can include certain oral antihistamines or steroids. Silicone gels are one of the most popular prescription remedies for scars. The sheets promote moisture, which can speed healing and lead to softer, thinner, and less painful scars.

    Likewise, if you have acne scars, ask your dermatologist for advice on how to reduce them. They may recommend topical treatments such as cocoa buttercream, vitamin E, and several commercial skincare products.

Scars can be unpleasant and unsightly; it’s only natural to want them gone. But before you settle on a remedy, consult with your doctor or dermatologist about what you want to accomplish. They will evaluate the type and severity of your scarring and recommend the best scar treatment.

Do you need more information on scars and the possible treatments? Vitamax Prime can help. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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