Any wound or disease that results in damage to the dermis, or second layer of skin, is going to leave a scar after it heals. Scarring produces changes in the skin’s normal appearance, especially in areas of the body where skin frequently moves and is under tension.
The appearance varies according to the wound’s location, the type of damage sustained and sometimes, individual genetic factors. Using a scar cream can be an effective way to reduce the appearance of some scars.
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The dermis produces collagen, a protein that contributes to the strength and elasticity of healthy skin cells. This protein is also found in bone, tendons, cartilage and ligaments. A common response to injury is the abnormal formation of collagen.
Most scars are hypertrophic. They are flat, red and follow the contours of the wound. They may fade away over time and sometimes physicians inject cortisone to speed up the process.
Keloids are more invasive because they migrate into the tissue surrounding the wound. They are thick bumps on the skin surface that are purple or pink and feature a smooth top. They may form after surgery or in response to piercings, burns, inflammation or injuries.
Many non-prescription creams contain ingredients that can help reduce the appearance of scars even though they cannot make them disappear. These formulas work to reduce the difference in texture that is characteristic of scars. They also address the uneven colour, known as hyper pigmentation.
Red, swollen scars respond best to lotions containing anti-inflammatory agents. One of those ingredients is cortisone. Skins cells readily absorb this corticosteroid, which reduces inflammation by suppressing the immune system.
Cortisone can also reduce the redness associated with most scarring. Hydroquinone was a lightener that was popular with manufacturers of creams in the past but most have abandoned its use due to concerns about it being a carcinogenic and complaints from users about irritation with its use. New products contain natural ingredients to reduce hyper pigmentation. These include vitamin C, kojic acid, and bearberry extract.
Some scarring requires more invasive medical treatment due to the severe damage to skin structure. Severe acne, for example, attacks the underlying muscle and fat tissue creating a rough surface and sometimes, deep pits.
Antibiotic creams are often necessary to battle infection. Other active ingredients prevent the pores from clogging up with debris and excess oil. The physical damage to skin can sometimes be repaired with microdermabrasion or laser resurfacing treatments.
All scars are natural responses to the body’s ability to heal itself. They are signs that the body is reacting normally to stress. Even though they do not pose any threat to health, they can have a devastating effect psychologically and emotionally.
Depending on the location, severe scarring lowers self-esteem and can lead to other serious problems such as depression. There is no reason to live with unsightly scars when there are many treatment options available. Individuals should seek out the help of a licensed physician to discuss whether using a scar cream will produce the desired results.