What is scarring and why does it happen?
Scarring is a part of the natural healing process when your skin experiences an injury. Scars are a result of an injury, burn, surgery or skin problems like acne. When the dermis or the thick layer of the skin is damaged, new collagen fibers are formed to repair the damage called scars. In simple words, a scar is a patch that grows on a wound.
Although it is a natural occurrence, no man or woman likes to deal with the unattractive lines or spots that lie on the skin. If you have scars on areas that can’t be hidden with clothing, it makes life more difficult. People are often wondering how to get rid of scars or are on a constant lookout for ways to erase or disguise scars, whether through surgery, cosmetic treatments, creams or other more natural and healthy solutions. The treatment for scars may vary slightly depending on the cause or type of scar, which is why it is important to understand these two factors.
Types of scars
Scars can be broadly classified as those that create a depression in the skin and the ones that protrude. These are usually formed depending on the type of injury. Here are some common types of scars:
A scar usually appears as a patch over the injury and starts fading once the healing is complete. Keloids are an advanced form where a red, raised (bump like) scar is formed on the injured area and cause unusual sensations and pain or itchiness. These are not easy to heal and take a very long time to fade. Steroid injections, silicone sheets or cryotherapy are a preferred form of treatments in the case of keloid scars.
These are scars arising as a result of burns. These gather and tighten the skin and appear like a wrinkled patch and might restrict movement or cause discomfort due to stretching of the skin. If the burn is severe, contracture scars can be deeper and affect muscles. Home remedies like coconut oil, silicone gels and patches or natural scar removal creams can minimise the appearance of these contracture scars.
Acne scars are the most common type of scars in both men and women. Hyperpigmentation also leads to scarring and hence it is important to understand the specific cause of these scars, usually due to skin conditions or infections, in order to treat them.
Hypertrophic scars are similar to keloids but a little less aggressive. They are a protruding patch of skin which subsides on the application of scar removal creams or gels and minimise over a period of time. Steroid injections are preferred to help flatten these.
How to avoid scars?
Whilst scars are a part of the healing process, you can prevent them from being permanent. Here are a few tips you can follow during the initial stages to avoid scars:
- After an injury, resist removing the crust formed on the wound as these can leave marks.
- Let the wound dry completely and do not touch it. Any kind of wetness can lead to inflammation of the wound and then to scar formation.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes that cover the affected area.
- Protecting the wound from harmful UV rays is a must as hyperpigmentation can worsen the scars.
- A thin layer of sunscreen formulated with natural ingredients can be applied during the healing process to protect it against sun damage.
- Avoid using saunas or exposing the fresh scars to extreme cold or heat.
- Exercising or stretching, and any physical strain must be avoided when scars are fresh as the sweat can cause inflammation and worsen them. Too much stretching of the skin when the wound is fresh can trigger scar formation.
- Burn scars must be treated with ointments and be covered better healing.
Scar removal solutions
If you have a slightly deeper wound from a surgery, a serious accident or acne, they can leave scars which are often not so aesthetic. These can also be difficult to cover with normal makeup, resulting in many people suffering from visible scars that cannot be covered normally. Science and research have changed the conditions for those who suffered from these. Whether its stretch marks, surgical scars or burns, various scar removal treatments can help heal them and compensate for colour differences in the skin for effective scar removal.
Scars can fade with time but never go away. If you are conscious about minimising your scars, then several treatments like surgeries, lasers, chemical peels and other natural products can help in scar removal. You can diminish the noticeability of scars using the following methods:
Camouflaging - For light or not so visible scars, using makeup to camouflage them is one of the easiest alternatives. However, it is in no form a treatment and excessive use of comedogenic make-up may damage the skin further.
Silicone gels and sheets - Sticky gel pads similar to a plaster are placed on cuts to help in healing. These sheets can help prevent scarring after the wounds are healed. Although these sheets have no known side effects, excessive sweating makes it difficult for the silicone sheets to stick on the skin and those with sensitive skin may experience irritation because of the tape used. Silicone gels are the other preferred alternative. The gel dries up post application and is nearly invisible making it a discreet method of scar removal. The only drawback is that one needs to wait for the gel to dry up so that it doesn’t smudge and also friction due to clothes may cause a problem.
Steroid Injections - Corticosteroid injections are among the most popular in this category. These are injected in the protruding scars, particularly like keloids and hypertrophic scars, to flatten the skin and help minimise their appearance. The steroids in these injections break the bond between collagen fibers to help reduce the scar tissue beneath the skin. These injections are, however, not very beneficial for older scars and the results may vary from person to person.
Derma rollers - These are best suited for acne scars. Derma rollers break down the scar tissues with the help of micro-needling and stimulate cell regeneration. As a result, new layers of collagen and elastin are formed which help minimise their appearance. The improved blood circulation regulates skin pigmentation and this scar removal solution is considered safe for all skin types. One of the other advantages is that you can use derma rollers from the comfort of your home.
Laser skin resurfacing - This technology works to minimise the appearance of scars without damaging the skin around it. The top layer of the skin is removed while the middle layers of the skin are smoothened and tightened with laser therapy to correct flaws. The type of laser skin resurfacing used for scar removal is chosen depending on the severity of the scars. A few unpleasant side effects are observed by those with sensitive skin types or certain medical conditions when undergoing laser skin resurfacing for scar removal.
Surgery - Scar revision surgeries or plastic surgeries are usually the last and the most advanced resort, best suited for severe scars. They are removed by creating an incision. Skin grafting may be used for contracture or burn scars. The procedure is expensive and is the least preferred method of scar removal.
Natural solutions - A large population of men and women are conscious about their outer appearance and are in the search for less invasive and affordable procedures of scar removal. Natural scar removal creams are a favourable option for scar removal without having to go through a long, cumbersome and expensive cosmetic surgery. They are easily available over-the-counter and do not have any known unwanted side effects. Natural ingredients like aloe vera, wheat germ extracts and mulberry roots that are known for their ability to repair skin are used in these creams for added benefits. Some of them are formulated to protect the skin from sun damage and pigmentation, thus giving you dual benefits of a scar removal cream and sunscreen.
The Final Word
You may not have a magic wand to make your scars disappear, but fortunately, modern research and technology have given way to a plethora of options for scar removal to suit every individual’s need. Depending on the severity of the scar, your skin type, and budget, you can choose a scar removal method that best suits your skin. With a little patience and perseverance along with natural solutions, you can minimise the scars and enjoy a glowing skin.