Some say that every scar is a sign of a lesson learned. While scars are inevitable in life, and a perfectly normal biological phenomenon, they’re not always pretty. A scar can certainly give you character, but if you’re not ready to embrace yours you may be wondering how to fade it away.
A scar is the body’s way of healing and replacing skin that has been damaged or lost. It is formed of fibrous tissue and may have a raised appearance or uneven coloring. Scars can form as a result of injury or infection, but they can also be a consequence of severe acne and other skin conditions.
Whether you’re struggling with a small amount of fine-line scars or deeper, pitted scars from acne, there are a few basics you should know before starting treatment.
6 Different Types of Scars
Scars are part of the body’s natural healing process. When the skin sustains an injury, the body produces new tissue to replace the skin that was damaged or lost. Collagen plays an important role in this process, forming the fibers that close open wounds and repair damaged skin. Depending on the type and severity of the damage, a scar can take one of many different forms.
Some of the most common types of scars include:
This type of scarring typically develops during puberty or pregnancy or after gaining or losing a lot of weight. Stretch marks form when the skin shrinks or expands quickly, damaging the connective tissues underneath. They often form on the stomach, breasts, thighs, and upper arms.
Flat or fine-line scars usually result from a minor wound like a cut. While they may have a slightly raised surface at first, they will likely fade and flatten over time. Some fine-line scars may even darken over time.
This type of scar results from an overgrowth of tissue caused by excess collagen production at the site of a wound. Even after the wound has healed, the scar keeps growing which results in a raised, often red or pink scar. Keloid scars can be itchy or painful and may restrict movement if they form near a joint.
Hypertrophic (Raised) Scars
Similar to keloid scars, hypertrophic scars are raised scars that form when too much collagen is produced at a wound site. They differ in that they don’t extend beyond the original boundary of the wound. While hypertrophic scars don’t grow over time, they may thicken for up to 6 months.
Atrophic (Pitted) Scars
Also known as pitted or sunken scars, atrophic scars are commonly caused by acne or chickenpox. These scars look like small, rounded pits or indentations in the skin which is why they are also sometimes called ice pick scars. Atrophic scars most commonly form on the face and may become more noticeable with age as the skin loses elasticity.
Typically the result of a burn, contracture scars cause the skin to tighten or contract. This type of scarring can lead to restricted movement, especially if it occurs near a joint or gets into the muscle.
How to Treat and Fade Scars
The rule of thumb for treating scars is the sooner the better. While your skin is healing, it’s important to keep the wound clean. Once the skin has closed over the wound, you can start treatment to prevent scarring. Keeping the skin hydrated is essential for proper healing, but there are also a few ingredients you can rely on to help counter issues like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Treating facial scars can be particularly tricky, but the following treatments have been used to help:
- Microdermabrasion – A common treatment for acne scars, microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that essentially sands away the top layer of skin. This procedure is best performed by a dermatologist or licensed esthetician.
- Chemical Peels – This treatment takes at-home exfoliation up a notch, and they generally include stronger ingredients than what you’d use yourself. For example, alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Chemical peels may help improve the appearance of scarring by removing the outer layer of skin, revealing smoother skin beneath it.
- Laser Resurfacing – Similar to the previous two treatments, laser resurfacing removes the top layer of skin to reduce the appearance of scarring. There are several different types of laser resurfacing, and some lasers are more invasive, so do your research and find a qualified practitioner.
- Corticosteroid Injections – This treatment is typically used for keloid scars and involves injecting corticosteroids or other medications into the scar to reduce the size or flatten the surface.
Depending on the size and severity of the scar, it may take multiple treatments to achieve the desirable result. The newer the scar, the more likely it is to respond to treatment. For severe scarring, especially hypertrophic scars, it’s best to seek professional help from a doctor or dermatologist.
If you’re dealing with a newer scar, try a compress of Emulsion Pure. This purifying and regenerating emulsion renews and heals the skin while actively controlling infection. Comprised of 98% ingredients of natural origin, this botanical treatment offers healing and antibacterial benefits.
Tips for Preventing Scars from Forming
While it’s best to seek your doctor’s advice for treating severe scarring like hypertrophic and keloid scars, minor scars like stretch marks and even acne scars can sometimes be faded or prevented at home. Again, the key to preventing or fading scars is to start treatment as soon as possible.
Here are some simple tips for preventing scars:
- Keep the wound clean as it heals. Use mild soap and water to clean the wound several times daily and use a healing ointment to protect it. Keep it covered with a bandage and avoid direct sunlight.
- Always wear SPF protection outdoors but be particularly careful with scars. Sun exposure can exacerbate discoloration in scars and scarred skin may be more susceptible to sun damage.
- Apply moisturizer and healing ointment to scars to keep the skin healthy and hydrated. Dry skin can exacerbate the appearance of certain scars, especially contractures and acne scars.
- Resist the urge to pick at your skin if you have frequent breakouts. Popping infected pimples increases the risk for scarring and may spread bacteria to the surrounding skin. See a dermatologist or licensed esthetician for extractions.
- To help raise atrophic scars, try applying topical skincare products that contain vitamins A, B, and C. These ingredients can trigger mild irritation in the skin which may trigger increased collagen production and might help raise an indented scar.
- For hypertrophic scars, it may help to keep pressure on the injury to prevent raised scars from forming. Depending on the size of the injury, you can use anything from a bandage and medical tape to special scar dressings made from silicone.
Your skin is as unique as you are, and a few scars here and there doesn’t change that. In fact, scars can be reminders of the life you’ve lived but if they bring up bad memories for you or negatively impact your self-esteem, there’s nothing wrong with taking steps to fade them.