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Types of Scars and Treatments

Types of Scars and Treatments

By Kevin Cleary

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It performs many functions, but the most important one is keeping organisms from entering our body. Just about every person has injured their skin at one time or another. Depending on these injuries, a scar can be left behind. The type of scar that forms on your skin after an injury is dependent upon many factors. A person’s age, the severity of the wound, heredity, and even a person’s ethnicity and sex matter in how a scar can form. Identifying the type of scar will help to determine the treatment that is best.

Keloid Scars

These scars are characterized by reddish growths on the skin, and are caused by excessive production of collagen in skin tissue. These are similar to hypertrophic scars, but are more serious since they can turn to numerous. Keloid scars can spread and expand beyond the area that was injured. Treatments for the elimination of this type of scar can include surgical removal of the keloid, laser treatments, steroid injections, and cryotherapy. Patients can also use pressure dressings or silicone sheets in the affected areas.

Hypertrophic Scars

Similar to keloid scars, these scars are also caused by excessive production of collagen. The main difference between the two is hypertrophic scars remain localized to the trauma area and don’t spread. Much like all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs, all keloid scars are hypertrophic, but hypertrophic scars are not keloid scars. These are caused by accidents, surgery, even unsterilized body piercing equipment and acne.

Contracture Scars

Scars of this nature are caused by burn accidents of the skin and possibly lead to the tightening of the skin in the affected area. This can lead to a loss of mobility. They can affect deeper layers of the skin where muscle and nerve tissues are.

Acne Scars

If anyone has suffered from severe acne, they more than likely bear the scars of that affliction. They can range from deep pits to scars that are wavy or rectangular. There are four different types of acne scars. A rolling acne scar has an undulating appearance and is soft, shallow, and wide and can be flattened when the skin is stretched. Boxcar acne scars usually appear around the temple and cheek and have a defined edge with deep vertical ridges. Ice pick acne scars are the most common and are characterized by deep narrow pits. They get their name because it looks like someone has been poked by an ice pick. Acne can leave behind keloid and hypertrophic scars also.

Atrophic Scars

Atrophic scars are just the opposite of keloid and hypertrophic scars. Instead of the scar being a raised tissue, the scars are formed below the skin surface. That’s because the injury that caused the scar damage the tissue below the skin. They can be caused by surgical procedures and skin conditions like acne and chickenpox.

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are caused by a tearing of the dermis, leaving behind an off-color hue in the skin. Over time, the scars may diminish but not completely disappear. They are very common in pregnant women. Also, weight gain can contribute to the forming of this type of scar.

Treatments

There are many ways your doctor may want to treat the type of scar you have. Topical gels can be used to reduce scars. Many contain silicone and reduce redness, swelling, and pain while helping to eliminate the scar. These gels can be used with skin rejuvenators, which provide nutrients for the skin and rebuilds the tissue. These gels can even be found incorporated into strips. They use a combination of vitamins and natural oils to help promote skin healing. Also, silicone strips/pads can be used to help heal scars. This type of treatment seals the scar off from bacteria, hydrate the skin, and provide continuous light pressure. The application of ointments provide a waterproof barrier of silicone to help smooth, soften, and fade scars. These barriers are flexible and allow the skin to flex normally. Companies like Medline, New Medical, Merz Pharmaceutical, and Sammons all manufacturer these easy to use gels and strips/pads. Deeper scars may require a surgical solution. This includes skin grafts, laser treatments, dermabrasion, or excision. Keloid or hypertrophic scars can also be treated with steroid injections. The type of treatment depends on the size and type of scar.