Practically everyone has a scar, whether from an injury or surgery. Besides being unsightly, they can cause irritation or inhibit movement, but thankfully dermatologists can treat scars in a variety of ways.
Scars can form for a variety of reasons, but any trauma to the skin can leave behind a scar. Many shallow cuts or other forms of damage will not cause a scar, but when deeper layers of your skin are damaged, your body reacts a bit differently. When you get an injury deeper than the first layer of your skin, the tissue created is thicker than your skin. This thicker tissue forms a scar, and when they’re new scars are usually pink or red in color. As time goes on, the scar will lighten or darken, most often. Scars often fade, but even years later many scars never fully go away on their own. Scars are usually flat, but can also be raised. The tissue usually looks wrinkly and shiny on a scar. Sunken scars form after inflammatory damage like chickenpox or acne. Some scars, known as keloids, are tougher to deal with than normal scars. Keloids form as growth-like lesions in response to damage. They are usually raised, more unsightly and dark in color, and are difficult to reduce in the same way as other scars. Keloids are also more likely to feel painful or itchy. Keloids form as a result of overactive collagen production at a wound site.
Truly, the best way to treat a scar is to avoid it outright. That’s easier said than done, as injuries and surgeries do happen, and there’s little we can do about that. One important thing to keep in mind with scarring is that all scars start as wounds. Caring for your wound in a scar-conscious way might keep it from scarring too much at all, regardless of its depth or severity. Wash your skin and wound with soap and water. Avoid corrosive or chemical agents for wound-cleaning like hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide can actually damage skin and make scarring worse. If you have a wound that may end up scarring, it’s important to consult a dermatologist about how to prevent scarring. To help prevent scarring and promote healing, your doctor might recommend pressure wraps for the wound. These wraps apply constant pressure to an injury and may need to be worn for up to a year. Pressure wraps are especially effective if you’re prone to keloids or have a burn injury. Once a wound has closed, silicone gel treatments are also very good at reducing the size of an injury’s scar. Following surgery, a silicone gel with a self-adhesive application is often useful in preventing scarring. These can cause irritation for some people, so they aren’t right for everyone. Either on its own, or in tandem with pressure wraps, polyurethane dressings can be applied to a wound following surgery for about 6 weeks. This is a moist, flexible pad-type bandage.
Lasers and lights are used to treat a myriad of dermatological issues, including scarring. Light therapy, and laser therapy especially, are constantly advancing in terms of their capabilities. Lasers and lights can treat wounds, scars, and keloids depending on the types of light used. They may be used in tandem with injectable treatments, which we’ll soon explore. Laser treatment doesn’t have the potential to cause scarring unlike surgical options, which is good given the fact that keloids can return after surgical excision. These therapies can even treat sunken scars like acne scarring. Additionally, they can help remove the discoloration that many scars exhibit.
Injections at the site of a scar or wound can be incredibly effective in lessening or preventing scarring. Depending on the type of scar and its age, your dermatologist can administer a number of injections to treat you. Corticosteroid injections are common, and they can reduce the size and appearance of a scar, as well as itchiness or pain that’s associated with it. Bleomycin and 5-FU are two other medications that are also injected directly into a scar, and these can flatten raised scars and ease pain or itching. Finally, dermal fillers are a line of products that often use injectable hyaluronic acid to treat facial scars. While hyaluronic acid can treat different kinds of scars, it’s especially effective against acne scarring like boxcar, rolling or ice pick scars.
Scars can be unsightly and even painful or itchy, so there’s plenty of reasons to want them gone. If you’ve got a scar or a wound you’d like gone, call the professionals at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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