Scars Review

Scar Types, Causes and Prognosis


What are scars?

images/scardoc.pngScars are marks left in the skin from the natural healing process caused by wounds, sores and surgeries.   Scars are permanent.

The size of a scar depends on the size and depth of the wound.  Some other factors to be considered in determining scarring are age, heredity, pigmentation, and the location of the wound.

Scars can also be prevented or limited by proper wound care.  It is important to keep the wound clean and covered.  It is also advisable to limit the wounds exposure to sunlight.

Scars can come from severe acne cases, mosquito bites, and chicken pox.  The constant scratching disturbs the skin which may scab.  As the itching continues, it can cause one to keep removing the scab, this can cause a scar.  These scars are considered pit-like scars, a circular indentations in the skin, this is just one type of scar.  Not many people know there are different types of scars.

Types of Scars

Hypertrophic Scars

Hypertrophic scars are red, thick, and raised on the skin.  They are caused by an over-active healing process caused by excessive collagen produced at the wound site. Hypertrophic scars do not extend past the wound site.  These type of scars can be a self conscious problem for some individuals.  These scars can take up to a year to reach maturity.

Keloids

Keloids are similar to hypertrophic scars in that they are also red, thick, and raised on the skin.  Keloids however, are rigid, usually extend past the wound site and can continue to grow.  Keloids can also develop spontaniously.  Keloids can become a cosmetic problem to some individuals.

Contracture Scars

Contracture scars are when the skin rejoins too tightly.  Sometimes, a contracture scar can involve nerves, muscles, and tissue.  A contracture scar, especially a large one can affect a person’s mobility.  This type of scar usually requires additional treatment.

What Causes Scars

Scars are caused by the natural healing process which begins after skin or tissue has been damaged.  The body releases collagen, which is a protein, that rejoins the damage skin together.  During this process a scab is formed to protect the damaged area.  Once the scab has fallen off, a scar is left.

Scars usually fade as time passes.  They have a tendency to shrink with age.  Sometimes they become barely visible after a long period of time.

Prognosis

Scars are generally harmless and usually heal naturally.  They can itch and become tender, (there are treatments available for these symptoms).  The healing process for a scar to mature can take up to a year, and sometimes longer, depending on the severity of the wound.  Some scars may require additional treatment.  Some additional treatments should not be considered until after a scar has matured.   Additional treatments are usually performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons.   Scars can be a problem for self conscious people and they may elect additional treatment for cosmetic purposes.  If your scar is a concern for you speak with a healthcare professional for information on treating your scar.