What is Scarring?
After your skin is damaged or cut, scarring can occur. The skin heals itself by producing new tissue to pull the wound together and fill in the gaps. Scar tissue is primarily made up of collagen, a protein that helps in healing wounds.
Scars can take many forms. Some scars can be large and painful while others are barely noticeable. Keloid scars are more common in people with darker skin, especially those with African, Asian, or Hispanic heritage. Keloids are raised scars which grow beyond the area infected. Your scars can be unsightly depending on the type, size and location. They may also make it difficult to move.
Some scars can be treated, but not all. Many fade over time. Treatments are available for scarring that is bothersome or causing you pain.
What are the Most Common Scars?
Nearly everyone will experience some kind of scar. It could be from an accident, surgery, acne, or an illness such as varicella (chickenpox). All ages and genders are affected by scarring.
What are the Signs of a Scar?
A scar that develops first on skin with lighter skin is usually pink or red. The scar will become slightly darker or lighter over time. Scars can often be seen as dark spots in people with darker skin. Scars can be tender or painful and may itch. The appearance of a scar depends on many factors. Scarring caused by injury or an event, such as surgery or severe acne. The size, severity, and location of the wound are important. The treatment you received for your wound, such as stitches and bandages. Your health, genes, ethnicity, and age.
What are the different types of scars?
Scarring can occur anywhere on the skin. There are many types of scarring, including:
- Contracture: This is a condition that occurs after a burn. It causes the skin to contract (contract). These scars can make moving difficult, especially if they get into muscles or nerves, or occur over a joint.
- Atrophic (depressed): These sunken scars are often caused by chickenpox, acne, or both. These scars look like small indentations or rounded pits in the skin. They are also known as ice pick scars and appear most frequently on the face. As you get older, acne scarring may be more obvious because your skin loses collagen and elasticity.
- Flat: This type of scar may appear slightly higher at first but it flattens as it heals. Flat scars can be pink or red. They may appear lighter or darker over time than surrounding skin.
- Keloids: These scars rise above the skin’s surface, and can spread to other areas. Overgrown scar tissue may cause movement problems and can become very large.
- Hypertrophic (or raised) scars: When you rub your finger on a hypertrophic wound, it can be felt. Although these raised scars can shrink over time, they will never completely disappear. They don’t spread or grow beyond the wound area, unlike keloids.
- Stretch marks: Skin can shrink or expand rapidly, causing damage to the connective tissue under it. Stretch marks can develop in pregnancy, puberty, or after weight gain or loss. They are usually found on the upper arms, stomach, thighs, and breasts.
- The body can also accumulate scar tissue. Surgery (such as abdominal adhesions), and certain health conditions like Asherman’s Syndrome and Peyronie can cause internal scar tissue. Skin changes caused by autoimmune diseases like scleroderma can look similar to scarring due to inflammation.