Scarring is the process by which wounds are repaired. Damage to the deeper layer of the skin, the Dermis, is required to produce a scar. Damage to only the Epidermis, the most superficial layer of skin, will not produce a scar.

Scars produce a structural change in the deeper layers of the skin which is perceived as an alteration in the architecture of the normal surface features. It is not just a change in skin color.

There is only one type of Scar. The appearance of a Scar depends on the nature of the wound that produced the damage of the anatomical location of the wound and a variety of genetic factors that are different with each individual.

A defective healing process can result in a keloid which is an unsightly itchy, red, knobby bump that often continues to enlarge over time. Keloids often are larger than the margins of the original wound.


DOs and DON'Ts When Working With Scars

"Treating wounds promptly and properly will go a long was in Decreasing the appearance and development of Scars" Dr. Leffell, MD Dertermatologist

DON'T swab wounds with Hydrogen Peroxide. "The bubbles make it look like something good is happening, but Hydrogen Peroxide is known to destroy the new skin cells that immediately begin to grow. Dr. Leffell.

DO cover a cut. Allowing a fresh cut to "breathe" is an old wives tale that will actually delay healing by as much as 50%. "Moisture prevents the formation of a hard scab which acts as a barrier to the development of new tissue. Treat the affected area daily with an antibiotic ointment that will prevent infection which is another hindrance to healing and keeping it covered with a bandage. After a week, switch to plain petroleum jelly keeping the skin and scar moist, and continue using it underneath the bandage until new skin grows over the wound.

Dr. Bruce Katz, MD, associate clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

DON'T expose new Scars to the sun. Ultraviolet rays can slow the healing process and, since they stimulate melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment, can cause dark discoloration.

DO gently massage the mark once the surface is completely healed. "Massage helps break down the dense bands of collagen that attach to underlying tissue, a common reaction to Cesarean Sections, Appendectomies or Hand Wounds. Once skin has grown over the site, gently massage the area with Lotion in a circular manner for 15-30 seconds a few times a day."

DON'T ignore a Scar that becomes raised, itchy or red. It may be a sign of infection or an allergic reaction to an antibacterial cream or even the bandage. If the individual knows the Scar isn't one they can live with (on their face or particularly disfiguring), address the options for treating the Scar with it's "fresh", and the chances improve tremendously. "The timing is key". Dr. Katz (whose studies show that when treated early, one half of Scars became undetectable and the other half improved significantly).

DO ask the physician to remove external stitches before they leave "track marks" Dr. Robert Bernard, MD, plastic surgeon.

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The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not replace consultation with a health care provider. The material offered here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease and is available to the general public via various public sources.