What is a scar?
A scar is a mark that has been left after tissue has been damaged and not completely healed. The body begins fills in the gap with fibrous tissue, commonly called scar tissue which consists of sturdy long, white collagen fibres. During the healing process, many factors influence the outcome of the wound, such as inflammation, size, location, infection and intervention. The result is a patch of skin structurally different from the surrounding tissue.
How do you get scars?
Scars can be result from surgical or trauma wounds. Surgical wounds are intentional, often clean and neat. Trauma wounds are unintentional, often contaminated with dirt and can appear disorganised. Both of these types of wounds can involve tissue beneath the skin, and can result in a scar being left behind.
What types of scars are there?
Atrophic scars result from inflammatory lesions such as pox and acne. They are depressions or holes left in the skin that do not form scar tissue. It is believed that the inflammatory mediators interfere with the collagen and subcutaneous fat, resulting in the pock marked appearance of acne and pox scars.
Hypertrophic scars are raised scars that are red or purple in appearance. They contain capillaries and nerves, which may result in chronic pain, tenderness and itchiness. Hypertrophic scars often occur as a result of traumatic injury.
Keloid type scars are larger than the area of the original injury. It has been considered a type of benign skin tumour, as it has overgrown the healing wound site. Keloid scars will often reappear if removed and are more commonly associated with darker skin. Treatment is given by ways of corticosteroids.
After a serious burn, contracture scars can occur. The skin around the edges of the wound appear taught. This can cause limited mobility around the scar, causing discomfort and restricted movement for patients.
Stretch marks or striae are the most common type of scar. They can be white or pinkish in appearance, occurring in areas where the skin has been stretched rapidly such as growth spurts or during pregnancy, on the breasts, stomach and thighs.
What can you do about scars?
Research about scars can be difficult because there are so many factors that influence healing. Many treatments can be provided, and if you are concerned about your scars, seeking help from a dermatologist is a great first step. It is recommended that to manage scars effectively, we:
- Perform scar massage for 15 minutes, twice per day.
- Use silicon gels, essential oils (like rosehip) and creams rich in vitamin E.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- Keep our skin well oxygenated and heal properly by not smoking
- Use a broad-spectrum SPF during daylight hours on scar sites.
Make an appointment
If you have questions or require information about managing scars contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a dermatologist.