Scars are a natural part of the skin’s healing process, following a wound or injury. Scars are formed when the dermis – the deep, thick layer of skin – is damaged.
Some people seem to scar more noticeably than others. This is based on the overall health and age of the person. Genetic traits that are passed down through families also influence scarring.
A scar is made of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin. This tissue isn’t like normal skin. Scars can become discolored, dry and cracked, feel hard or drawn-up (contracted). Scars are also more sensitive to UV rays. Scars can take up to 2 years to completely form.
So although scars are natural, there are ways to prevent and make scars less noticeable by making them softer, less discolored and flatter.
Two types of scars
Scars are classed as hypertrophic or keloid. Keloid scars occur when the wound hasn’t healed in the normal way. Such scars appear raised, lumpy, hard, red, rope-like and itchy. They tend to be larger than the original area of injury. Hypertrophic scars take the form of a red raised lump across the original area of the wound and may also be itchy. These types of scars may occur after surgery or a burn and are a result of the body producing too much collagen during the healing process.
Consulting a healthcare provider
If the scar breaks open, does not fully heal, or if there are signs of infection such as redness, warm to the touch, swelling, fever, pain or burning, then consult a health care provider.
Products for Scars
Other Wound Types
Abrasions (or gazes) are superficial wounds, where generally, only the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis) is rubbed away. Sometimes abrasions go deeper into the skin layers (dermis).
Many burns affect only the skin, and are superficial (like a sunburn). Burns that affect deeper tissue are classed as partial-thickness (wet, painful, pink or red) or full-thickness (dry, no pain, grey/brownish, may look like normal skin but without sensation) depending on the depth. All burns may be painful, and it is often the superficial and partial-thickness ones that are the most painful.
About 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer due to aspects of the disease. Diabetes can damage nerves (neuropathy) and is often associated with poor blood circulation in the lower legs. These may make a person with diabetes more susceptible to wounds, infection and delayed wound healing.
A skin tear usually occurs in the elderly or those with fragile skin, as a result of a bumping into something, dressing changes with inappropriate dressings, or vigorous washing and drying of the skin.
Leg ulcers are breaks in the skin (generally below the knee) that can take a long time to heal due to underlying disease. You may hear them described as ‘chronic wounds’.
Some patients who have radiotherapy or radiation treatments may experience skin reddening and breakdown in the area. These are called radiotherapy or radiation skin reactions.
Surgical Wounds or Incisions result when you have an operation, or if you get a cut accidentally. The incision, wound or cut is closed using stitches (sutures), clips glue or tape, depending on the site and depth of the cut.
A pressure injury, often known as a pressure ulcer, pressure sore or bed sore, is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue caused when too much pressure is placed on the affected area.
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