About Scars & Scarring
How scars form
When skin is damaged, the body produces special cells to repair it. Scars are the sections of repaired skin that do not look like natural skin even after they are healed.
|Age||The older a person is, the slower the skin heals, making scars more likely.|
|Skin Type||In general, people with darker or very light skin are more susceptible to noticeable scarring.|
|Hormones||Different hormonal levels may affect the way a person’s skin scars.|
|Location||In places on the body where the skin is subject to tension, such as at the joints or shoulders, more noticeable scars are likely to form.|
|Complications||Infection/inflammation during the healing process means a higher risk of scarring.|
|Genetic Predisposition||Hereditary factors also play a role in the healing of the wound and, therefore, could make the skin prone to scarring.|
Some scars have too much collagen and other tissues, which causes raised skin. Some have too little collagen, which causes the scar to be lower than the skin around it. Repaired skin might have no hair follicles, be less elastic (or flexible), and form longer strands of tissue compared to the skin around it. These changes create different types of scars.
Causes of scars
Scars can occur from any damage to the skin, but they can be worse if any scabs that form are removed too early. A number of other events or conditions can cause scars.
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Scrapes, cuts & minor injuries
Even minor damage to the skin can cause scars. Some scrapes or cuts affect only the outer layers of skin. These wounds heal from the deeper layers up. As the tissue heals, the skin looks pink at first and then may look yellowish.
Deeper cuts or scrapes remove all of the layers of skin. As these wounds heal, new skin forms first on the outside edges of the wound, and then more tissue forms gradually until it meets and closes in the middle. This type of scrape looks white at first, might form a scab and takes longer to heal.
Acne, pimples or zits
Not all acne causes scars, but when hair follicles (tiny openings in the skin where fine hairs grow) become inflamed or filled with pus, pain and scarring are more likely. The most common type of acne scar is an atrophic scar, which is a sunken area of skin. Scabs due to acne can also cause scars.
Medical experts realize that acne and acne scars can cause emotional stress for anyone, but especially for adolescents. If acne is severe or causes embarrassment, talk to a doctor about all of your treatment choices.
Burns can damage one or more layers of skin, as well as other important tissues. Burn scars are often contracture scars, which create tight areas of skin as they heal. The deeper the burn, the more likely scarring is to occur.
A First Degree burn is a minor burn on the top layer of the skin (the epidermis). It might look like sunburn and causes redness, pain and minor swelling.
A Second Degree burn damages the first and second layers of skin (the epidermis and dermis). These painful burns cause the skin to turn red, can cause blisters or an open wound, and swelling.
Third Degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, injure all layers of the skin and might also damage deeper tissues. They might look white, red or black. These are serious burns that can cause severe pain, become infected and affect the skin’s ability to grow back.
Fourth Degree burns extend through the skin to muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and even bones.
Surgery & more serious injuries
Because surgery and some injuries can cause deep wounds to the layers of the skin, scars will form. Physicians can use many different techniques to repair the damaged tissue, help the wound heal properly and limit scarring.
Physicians can often use various types of stitches and bandages to reduce scarring after surgery and as injuries heal. Some types of surgery, like “laparoscopic” surgery, for example, require only small incisions, or cuts, so scars will be smaller.
All information in the Mederma® Learning Center is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice. You should seek professional medical care if you have any concerns about your skin.