Everyone has scars but they often react differently to having them on the body. Some consider their scars to be cool and something to be proud of while others are embarrassed and want to hide them from the view of others. Whether you are self-conscious about your scars or do not mind displaying them, the fact is many people seek treatment to try and get rid of them. Almost everyone would want to reduce or remove a scar, but they need to understand what a scar really is and the way to approach removing them.
Scars – How do They Form?
A scar is formed due to the natural healing process of the body after an injury. The layer of skin known as the dermis forms collagen fibers to repair any damage done to it. The formation of those fibers results in your scar. Most scars follow the rule of the faster the wound heals, the less collagen fibers there will be, which means a less noticeable scar. To go along with this, the severity of the scar is usually dependent on the severity of the injury to the body. There is also the variable of how scars form differently based on different parts of the body and based on the age of the injured person.
Types of Scars
Atrophic scars are defined by the loss of tissue on the skin of the injured person. They can appear in different ways including depressed or flat against the upper layer of the skin. If you see a scar with darker skin pigmentation than other areas of the skin, it might be an atrophic scar. A couple of examples of atrophic scars are acne scars and chickenpox scars.
Hypertrophic scars can be identified by excess tissue that forms over the injured skin as it heals. As with an atrophic scar, hypertrophic scars are typically darker than the other skin in the surrounding area of the body.
Keloid scars, like hypertrophic scars, involve too much tissue formation. Keloid scars are what happens when aggressive healing causes an overproduction of tissue. They can be identified by a thick, puffy, or raised appearance and are normally darker than the pigment in the surrounding area. One of the unique things about a keloid scar is that it can grow beyond the initial injured area of the body.
Contracture scars are most commonly formed after suffering burns on the body. They involve lots of areas of the skin being damaged or lost completely. They can be identified by shiny, tight skin that can restrict movement in the injured part of the body.
Top Four Easy Fixes for Scars
Scars will become naturally lighter over time, but they will never fully disappear. However, there are many efficient treatments to help speed up the healing process. The following four remedies have helped people in making their scars less noticeable:
Aloe vera should be applied directly to the scar, using circular motions, after removing the dark green “skin” from the flat side of the aloe vera leaf and scooping out the light green gel. Once 30 minutes goes by, remove the gel by washing it off with cool water. Patients should repeat this process twice each day.
Vitamin E should come in a capsule so cut open the capsule and squeeze the Vitamin E oil onto the scar. Massage the oil on, and around, the area of the injured skin/scar for about ten minutes. After this, wait approximately 20 minutes and wash off the oil with warm water. Patients should repeat this whole process a minimum of three times a day.
Believe it or not, a household potato can help treat the appearance of scars. First, slice the potato into medium-sized rounds and then rub the potato slice on the scar in light, circular motions. The potato slice will eventually dry out. When it does, simply throw it away and continue with another slice. Continue the rubbing for about 20 minutes and then let the scar “air-dry” for about 10 minutes. Finally, wash the injured area with cool water. This process should be performed at least one time per day.
Another easy household item that can be used on scars is baking soda. For this technique, mix distilled water into two tablespoons of baking soda until it forms a paste. Wet the injured area with the distilled water and then rub the paste on top of the wet scar. Hold the paste on the scar continuously for about 15 minutes and then rinse the area surrounding the scar. This process should be performed once per day.
Scars and Natural Remedies
Natural remedies are a great way to make a scar look less noticeable in an easy, efficient, and healthy way. Many experts believe in the healing power of natural remedies. They also recommend having a conversation with a board-certified doctor before attempting to perform home remedies.
The reaction to having a scar on the skin varies per person. Some have an initial reaction of shock followed by feelings of anxiety of what the scar will look like after it completely forms. Others have feelings about the scar that are related to the event such as anger and shame.
No matter what the reaction is from a person when it comes to a scar, patients want to find a way to lessen or eliminate the appearance of the scar. Let’s take a look at different types of scars and the best methods to treat them.
Types of Scars and Their Treatment
Raised Scars – Raised scars, including keloid and hypertrophic scars, occur due to an overgrowth of tissue that is dense and fibrous after an injury to the skin heals. There are some differences between these two types of raised scars. In general, hypertrophic scars are the same size as the wound that caused them. The scar could be the result of injuries from a burn or piercing or cut. On the other hand, keloid scars extend beyond the limits of the injury and they are often found in patients with pigmented skin. They do not usually diminish or go away by themselves and often require some form of treatment to soften or flatten the impacted areas. Some of the most popular treatment options for raised scars include surgical removal, creams, medicinal corticosteroid injections, freezing, laser therapy, gels or dressings that put pressure on the scar.
Superficial Scars – A superficial scar is a red blotch that appears on the skin post-acne. Retinol is a good scar treatment solution for most skin types and it seems to work very well for those who suffer from this type of scarring. There are some patients that have been advised to avoid retinol because they are pregnant or they have skin that is sensitive on a regular basis. These patients can try a product with bakuchiol which is a natural alternative for exfoliating and it also increases the rate of cell turnover.
Ice-Pick Scars – As their name suggests, ice-pick scars are small, deep holes that are caused by acne. Their overall look makes it appear that the person with these scars has been punctured by an ice pick. Unfortunately, there is no “cure-all product” that patients can buy over the counter. Many doctors recommend against the use of lotions, creams or oils to treat ice-pick scars as they are often ineffective against these types of scars. Since many skin care products are not effective in the treatment of ice-pick scars, patients suffering from them are better off seeking out the expert help of a board-certified dermatologist.
Boxcar Scars – Boxcar scars are a broad depression that has sharply-defined edges that create the look of a “crater” in the skin. Some of the most popular treatments for this type of scar include dermal rolling and using a laser to stimulate collagen in order to smooth the acne depression by plumping the skin. It should be noted that most doctors recommend having any boxcar scar treatment performed as soon as possible since it can be more challenging to treat older scars.
Rolling Scars – This type of scar is quite similar to boxcar scars in that they have a deep “crater-like” appearance. The main difference is that rolling scars have more of a sloped edge. Rolling scars can generally be treated the same way as boxcar scars but, if the scars are extreme in nature, cosmetic treatments might need to be considered by the cosmetic doctor. One option is fillers that can be injected into the treated area in order to stimulate collagen to treat the scarring. In addition, there is a resurfacing technique that is performed by the Venus Viva system that uses NanoFractional radiofrequency to heat the tissue and encourage collagen production. If the scars are deeper in the skin, a laser treatment like the Erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) laser can be used to physically remove layers of skin. Once the layers of skin are removed, a wound forms around the removed layers which force the skin to regenerate at a more optimum level.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation of Scars
The condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a common side effect of acne and it can leave dark marks in patches or dots on the skin. The treatment options for this side effect can include products that are used topically to fade the dark patches such as hydroquinone that is prescribed by a board-certified doctor. Patients should also search for ingredients that suppress excess melanin pigment such as vitamin C, licorice extract, retinol, niacinamide and bakuchiol. In addition, the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis helps to prevent the condition from getting any worse.
Don’t Pick at the Scars during Scar Treatment
When it comes to treating scars, it is important not to pick or squeeze a scar because the pressure can increase the inflammation and infection deep into the skin. This warning is also the same when it comes to picking at scabs because this can increase the chances of scarring. It takes time and patience to achieve the best results and patients need to relax and give the scar treatments listed above time to properly treat the scars.