Scar Tissue Part 1 - Scarring

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Unless you're a Cuban drug lord, or the kind of person who believes scars are tattoos that chronicle adventure; scars can make you really self-conscious.

Although it's cover-up season and the cold, dry air may make them feel uncomfortable and itchy.

Scarring happens to all of us at some point or another, at any age; to any skin tone. Scars are areas of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) that replace normal skin after injury. A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body.  The key to getting rid of them is knowing what kind of scar you have and thus figure out your best plan of action.

When trauma penetrates to the deeper, thicker layers of skin(dermis and hypodermis), the scar tissue – made of resilient, ropey cells called fibroblasts – will differ from the skin it replaced in appearance and quality. With its inability to produce hair or sweat, it is more susceptible to sun damage. Though scars may be unsightly and uncomfortable, they're an integral part of the healing process.

There are different types of scars namely; keloid, contracture, hypertrophic and acne scars.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are most common among darker skin tones and are the result of an overly aggressive healing process. If you went to a Southern African school in the early 90s, you may have a keloid scar from an immunisation injection. They extend beyond the original injury and in time may hamper movement. Because of their depth and appearance, treatment includes surgery, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten the scar. Smaller keloids can be treated using freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen. You can also prevent keloid formation by using pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone when you are injured.

Contracture scars.

When you suffer a burn, you get a contracture scar. These tighten skin, which can  impair your ability to move. Contracture scars may also go deeper, affecting muscles and nerves, leading to loss of feeling temporarily or permanently.

Hypertrophic scars.

These are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids but do not go beyond the boundary of the injury.

Acne scars.

If you've had severe acne over a prolonged period of time, you probably have the scars to prove it. These aren't to be confused with acne marks. There are loads of types of acne scars, ranging from deep pits to hyperpigmented angular/wave-like scars. Treatment options depend on the types of acne scars you have.

About those stretch marks...

Stretch marks, or striae as they are called medically, are simply scars that appear in the dermis, rather than on the epidermis, like conventional scarring from outside injuries. 

Part 2 will look at the different methods that you can use to get rid of scars, including natural DIY tips.

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