Do you have old scars on your body from previous injuries? You have probably wondered if you can get rid of them, hide them or make them less visible.
Accidents or wounds leave behind scars as part of your body's natural healing process. The good news is that it is very much possible to get rid of your scars through various surgical procedures and home remedies.
It is important to first understand and identify your type of scar and treat it the right way. So, let's get started.
What Are Old Scars?
When the thick inner layer of your skin (dermis) gets injured, your body produces a protein known as collagen fibres. The protein is produced to repair the damage caused by the injury. This is what results in scars.
You will notice that scars can clearly be differentiated from the rest of your skin because of its texture and darker appearance. While accidents and injuries are the most common causes of scars, they can also result from certain skin conditions such as acne.
What Do Old Scars Look Like?
At the time of the injury, your wounds may look red and sore. However, as the wound begins to heal, it could change colour and texture depending on what type of injury it is.
For example, wounds where loss of skin tissue is recorded, appear darker than the rest of your skin. Wounds related to burn injuries, typically over large portions of the skin, appear shinier than the rest of your skin.
Types Of Scars
The texture and appearance of a scar differs according to the type of injury or damage to the skin. There are four broad categories of old scars:
1. Atrophic Scars
These types of scars are found in cases where a loss of skin tissue is recorded. In appearance, atrophic scars look darker in comparison to the rest of your skin and they also appear to be flatter. Chicken pox scars and scars that result from acne breakouts are common examples of atrophic scars.
2. Hypertrophic Scars
While most scars appear to be flat in comparison to the rest of your skin, hypertrophic scars will appear to be raised against the skin surface. These types of scars are a result of excess tissue formation or excess collagen production by the body during its natural healing process. Hypertrophic scars also appear to be darker than the rest of your skin.
3. Keloid Scars
Keloid scars also appear to be raised against the surface of your skin. While both hypertrophic and keloid scars may look similar, what differentiates the two types of scars is the structure. According to studies keloid scars contain large collagen fibres packed together closely, while hypertrophic scars have a more modular structure with collagen fibres packed randomly. (1)
4. Contracture Scars
This category of scars is most commonly associated with burn injuries. In contracture scars, the skin tightens and thickens as the body begins its natural healing process. A contract tile wound healing process is followed, forming such types of scars. These scars are more severe as they can even hinder your ability to move.
What Is The Best Scar Treatment For Old Scars?
Firstly, your body offers one of the best possible treatments for wounds through its natural healing process. Scars naturally change colour and become lighter over time. However, remember that a scar may never completely go away.
Here are some ways to make your old scars lighter:
1. Over The Counter
Topical treatments and several skin care products focussed on healing scars are currently available in the market and some of them appear to be effective in transforming the appearance of the scars.
You can look for silicone sheeting or gel, which has been found to be one of the most effective remedies for scar removal. SkinKraft's Advance Acne And Intense Scar Defense treatment works on healing scars caused by acne.
2. Surgical Removal Methods
Yes, even surgery can be used to change the appearance of a scar and make it less visible against the rest of your skin.
Keep in mind that if you have scars that are characterized as hypertrophic and keloid, it is not recommended that you turn to surgery. This is because it carries the risks of further, more excessive scarring. If you have keloid or hypertrophic scars, turning to surgery may also increase the risk of more scars forming.
A series of steroid injections, which can help change the appearance of a scar, is easily available in the market. These are sought out especially by people who have hypertrophic or keloid scars (raised scars), as these injections make the scars look flatter.
Steroid injections will also make the scar look smaller and reduce any irritation or pain you may be feeling as a result of the scar.
Filler injections also help raise scars that have sunk below the rest of your skin. Other methods such as micro needling, laser resurfacing and radiotherapy are also available today to treat your scars.
4. Home Remedies
1. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is one of the go-to home remedies for people trying to make their scars lighter. Apply raw aloe vera gel from the plant directly onto your old scar at least twice a day for best results.
Although a bit messier than aloe vera, honey is also a great way to change the appearance of your scars, since it has anti-inflammatory properties. Apply honey on the scar in such a way that it covers the scar completely. Leave the honey on the scar for a couple of hours before washing it off with warm water.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a miraculous home remedy for people with various skin conditions, including eczema. Coconut oil helps make your scar appear in tune with the rest of your skin. Apply coconut oil in such a way that the entire scar is completely covered in coconut oil. Massage it on for a few minutes before leaving it to rest on the scar for several hours.
Lemon also has properties that helps prevent hyperpigmentation of the skin, making it a must-try home remedy for changing the appearance of your scars. Squeeze some lemon juice directly onto the scar and let it sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off with some cool water.
5. Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil, which can be derived from capsules and is also available in oil form, will also help change the appearance of your old scar to some extent.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar:
You can also try applying apple cider vinegar, which is no stranger to the hair and skin care world, on your old scars.
Always consult a doctor before you apply anything new on your skin to avoid irritation.
Prevention Tips For Scars
Scars are one of those marks that are impossible to remove from your body and can become a part of your life and appearance for the longest time.
While there is no way to really completely remove scars, you can prevent their severity by taking care of your wound after an injury or accident.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, here are some of tips for preventing the appearance of scars:
- If the scar is caused by skinned knees or a deep scratch, keep the cut clean by washing it with mild soap and water to remove impurities
- Use petroleum jelly to prevent the wound from becoming dry.
- Cover the skin with a bandage and change it daily.
- Apply sunscreen to the wound after it has healed. (2)
Who Is More Prone To Getting Scars?
Most people get at least one scar in their lives. You can get a scar as the body follows its natural healing process for dealing with injuries, cuts and scrapes. Scars can also appear on your body as a result of certain conditions that affect the skin such as acne and chicken pox. Some people whose families have a history of keloid scars may also end up developing them.
People with dark skin are considered to be more prone to developing raised, keloid scars on their body-it is hence most commonly found among people from Africa, Africa Carribean and South Indian communities. They are also likely to develop among the younger population-between the ages of 10 and 30 years.
Why Did My Old Scar Turn Black?
According to research, there are cases where the colour of a scar turns undesirable during the wound healing process, mainly due to the cell activity. (3) Studies note that while there is no definitive treatment for this, leaving many people with large, noticeable scars on their body, surgical excision of the affected area could help.
How Long Do Scars Take To Heal?
There are four basic steps to the natural process your body follows in order to heal a wound-hemostasis or bleeding, inflammation, growth, rebuilding and strengthening. While a wound takes about three months to repair, the complete healing process of a scar may take much longer, maybe even a couple of years. (4)
If your scars have been a source of embarrassment for you, keep reminding yourself that they are only a sign left behind by the natural healing process your body follows. Everyone has at least one scar.
While there aren’t any simple ways to completely remove your scars, you can make them appear less noticeable or visible. There are topical treatments, home remedies, surgical and laser procedures available. Taking care of your wound through its healing process will also ensure that the appearance of the scar is minimized to some extent.
Consult your doctor before you apply topical treatment or home remedies on your scar.
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