Scars Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies

Scars Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies


What is a scar?


Scars are a natural part of the body's healing process. A scar results from the biologic process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues. Most wounds, except for very minor ones, result in some degree of scarring.

Scars produce a structural change in the deeper layers of the skin which is perceived as an alteration in the architecture of the normal surface features. It is not just a change in skin color.

Scars can result from accidents, diseases, skin conditions such as acne, or surgeries.

What are the four main types of scars?


Hypertrophic scars


These are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids (see below), but do not extend beyond the original injury site. Possible treatments include steroid injections and laser surgery.

Keloids


These scars protrude from the skin and extend beyond the original injury site and are due to overproduction of certain cells. Over time, keloids may affect mobility. Possible treatments include surgical scar removal, laser surgery or steroid injections. Smaller keloids can be removed with cryotherapy (freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen). You can also prevent keloid formation by using pressure treatment, silicone gel. Keloids are more common in darker skin types, specifically people of African or Asian descent.

Contracture scars


These scars cause tightening of skin that can impair the ability to move. These can happen after a burn. Additionally, this type of scar may go deeper to affect muscles and nerves.

Acne scars


Any type of acne can leave behind scars. There are many types of acne scars, ranging from deep pits to scars that are angular or wavelike in appearance. Treatment depends on the type of scars.

What causes a scar?


The normal healing process in human tissue results in a scar.


What are symptoms and signs of a scar?


Scars occur at the site of tissue damage and appear as firm red to purple fibrous tissue that over time usually becomes flatter and lighter in color.


How are scars diagnosed?


Scars are almost always diagnosed by visual inspection. There are a number of rare situations when it may be necessary to examine scar tissue under the microscope to confirm its true identity. This would require a biopsy of the skin and the injection of a local anesthetic. Sometimes other skin conditions can form in a scar and require a biopsy to ultimately diagnose.

How Can Scars Be Treated?


Although scars cannot be completely removed, their appearance can be improved to some extent. Methods for improving the appearance of scars include:

Over-the-counter or prescription creams, ointments, or gels


These products may reduce scars that are caused from surgical incisions or other injuries or wounds. If you are under the care of a dermatology or plastic surgeon, ask your physician for his or her recommendation. Treatments may include corticosteroids or antihistamine creams if your scars cause itching and are extremely sensitive. Likewise, if you are have scarring as a result of acne, you should ask your dermatologist for his or her recommendation for treatment of the acne and scarring. Your doctor may also recommend intralesional steroid shots, pressure dressings, or silicone gel sheeting to prevent acne scars or help treat existing scars.

Surgery


Although it will not remove a scar, surgery can be used to alter a scar's shape or make it less noticeable. Surgery is not recommended in cases of hypertrophic or keloid scarring (raised scars) because there is a risk of recurring scars as well as more severe scarring that results from the treatment.

Steroid injections


A long term course of steroid injections into a scar may help flatten it. Injections may help to soften the appearance of keloid or hypertrophic scars.

Radiotherapy


Low-dose, superficial radiotherapy is used to prevent recurrence of severe keloid and hypertrophic scarring. This treatment is used only in extreme cases because of potential long-term side effects.

Dermabrasion


This treatment involves the removal of the surface of the skin with special equipment. Dermabrasion is useful when the scar is raised above the surrounding skin; but, it is less useful for the treatment of sunken scars. Microdermabrasion is a much less invasive form of dermabrasion but is minimally useful for very superficial scars.

Laser resurfacing


This procedure, similar to dermabrasion, removes the surface layers of the skin using different types of lasers. Newer types of lasers may achieve more subtle results by working on the collagen in the dermis without removing the upper layers of skin. This advancement results in little down time as opposed to traditional laser resurfacing and dermabrasion, which requires a longer recovery.

Filler injections


These treatments can be used to raise sunken scars to the level of surrounding skin. The effects of these injections are only temporary, however, and the procedures may need to be regularly repeated. Newer forms of injectable fillers are now on the market and may be an option for some people.

Are there any home remedies to reduce scarring?


Good wound care is important in preventing excessive scarring as well as speeding the healing process. Preventing infection can help prevent unnecessary inflammation which can increase the size of wounds resulting in larger, unsightly scars. It is important to remove crusts (scabs) from wounds gently with a washcloth and soap and water at least twice a day and to keep the wound moist by keeping it covered with petroleum jelly. Assuming the wound is healing normally, it would not be unreasonable to cover the wound site after it is covered by skin (epithelialized) with silicone rubber 24 hours a day for a month or so. There is medical evidence that this can diminish the thickness of scars. Proprietary products of this type can be purchased without a prescription. There is an over-the-counter product (Mederma) that can sometimes improve the appearance of scars in the short term (first one to two months). This product relies on an extract of onions! The judicious use of cosmetic makeup can effectively obscure many scars.