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Scars: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 19, 2011
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

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A scar is a mark left on the skin due to the body’s inbuilt process of healing itself after any kind of injury. It is a result of the body’s natural healing process. When injury is deep into the skin, the body’s rejuvenating mechanism works by manufacturing collagen fibers to repair the wound. A visible mark which is left after a deep wound heels completely is a scar. The healing process of a deep injury can take months; hence a scar’s appearance also keeps on fading gradually but does not completely vanish.

Types of scars

  • Keloid scars: They are scars which form due to over-production and over-growth of scar tissue, collagen. Keloid scars are unlike normal scars which form over a wound, in this case, they grow beyond the affected area of injury. These scars are benign but itchiness and pain are felt. Mobility of skin may be affected in severe cases.
  • Hypertrophic scars: These scars too are formed due to over-growth of collagen. Unlike keloid scars they are limited in the area of wound but appear red and are raised from the surrounding skin surface. They heal eventually and improve in appearance.

 

Symptoms

  • Scars occur depending on the extent of injuries. A superficial injury might or might not result in a scar depending on how the skin healed itself. A deep gash where more collagen tissue was needed to heal will have a deeper scar which will heal gradually.
  • Scars look and feel different from rest of the skin, they can be raised or sunken and paler than rest of the skin. If injury was deep, hair follicles might get damaged and a scar will have no hair growth.
  • Scars are painless when wound has completely healed.


Causes


Scars are what are left on the skin after the body naturally repairs itself from injuries of any kind intentional or accidental.

  • Accidental injuries of falls, gashes and burns result in scars depending on the extent of wounds. Bites or deep scratches by animals.
  • Scars can be a result of surgeries such as in cases of open heart surgery, caesarean section of birth, transplants.
  • Scars can be a result of skin diseases such as chicken pox.


Risk factors

  • Certain surgeries can cause scarring. So if you are about to undergo any major operation like a transplant or a caesarean section, you are at risk of scarring even if the stitching up of tissues is done finely.
  • Deeper injuries take longer to heal hence scarring can be quite prominent for a long time and even after complete healing may be visible.
  • If you are suffering from certain skin conditions such as chicken pox, which might get aggravated with itching, involves risk of scarring.
  • Age and capacity of skin to heal itself goes hand in hand. Younger skin has a faster and able mechanism to heal itself as body produces collagen quickly. While an ageing skin experiences thinning and decreased production of collagen which hampers the healing process.


Treatment

  • Topical medications such as products with active ingredient Vitamin E and cocoa butter cream can help reduce scarring in a subtle manner
  • Cosmetic treatment of scars can be done with help of makeup which can cover up scars and not make them visible.
  • Chemical peels can help in treating superficial scars as it gives an even tone to the scar and the skin around it.
  • Laser treatment and surgery: Laser resurfacing destroys the topmost layer while stimulating collagen production; this might lighten up the scar. Surgery does not remove the scar but helps with lighten its appearance by making it less visible.
  • Dermabr...
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