Depending on the size and condition of the scars, they are certified confidence busters, especially if they appear in prominent areas like the face. Often, people end up asking, “Will scars ever disappear?”
To know the answer is to understand how they develop in the first place.
What Is a Scar, and How Does It Form?
A scar is the body’s natural way of healing a wound. A break in the skin can lead to bleeding and infection, so the body forms a scab over the wound to protect it while it heals.
The scab is removed when all signs of infection have cleared up, and then, specialized cells in the tissue start producing collagen fibers that form a matrix over the area where new skin cells will grow.
Collagen is produced by fibroblasts (cells in connective tissue) and helps create strong, flexible tissues like bone and cartilage. This same protein also gives your scars their strength and firmness.
After a few months of careful work from these fibroblasts, collagen matrices turn into tougher scar tissues such as elastin, which gives your scars their smooth texture.
Kinds of Scars
There are several different types of scars, depending on the cause:
- Intrinsic or atrophic scars form below the skin’s surface and may have a depression in the middle. Think of your friend who had chickenpox as a kid and now has pitted scars all over her face.
- Extrinsic or hypertrophic scars show up as firm nodules along the surface of the skin. Those you get from an injury underneath your skin form bigger redder bumps on top of your skin. Besides corticosteroids, machines from companies such as Alma Laser can help. They usually target the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the scar site, so it stops growing.
- There is a special type of scar called a keloid. Keloids look like small mounds that often grow beyond where the original wound was located. They’re more common among dark-skinned people and those with a family history of keloids. Keloids may require injections of corticosteroids to shrink them down. However, even after they’ve vanished, the area still has the tendency to form new keloids, which unfortunately can grow back even bigger than before. Most doctors prefer scratching these out for good.
Do Scars Disappear?
Unfortunately, no scars can completely fade into the skin. Instead, they often change over time and become less noticeable.
The majority of them flatten out and lose their raised appearance. Although collagen beneath your skin’s surface never returns to normal, it does continue to shrink over time. This way, the amount of scar tissue eventually becomes much smaller than its original size.
The redness around a scar will also fade when the skin underneath has returned to its normal color. Most scars take anywhere between eighteen months and two years to reach this state. However, some may not diminish for many more years. In very rare cases, like deep burn scars, they may even be permanent.
How to Lessen the Appearance of Scars
The best way to lessen the appearance of scars is to prevent them in the first place. This means taking good care of your skin and reporting any suspicious changes or problems to a doctor immediately.
Wounds that stay open for a longer time, such as scrapes and cuts, take longer to heal and produce stronger scars than those that are closed right away. If you get a wound, keep it clean by frequently rinsing it with disinfected water until it heals.
It’s also important to dress the wound properly, so there isn’t too much tension when it closes up, which can lead to long-term scarring. Hydrocolloid dressings look like Band-Aids and help protect wounds while they’re healing without putting too much pressure on the skin.
Scientific studies have also shown that factors such as age, gender, and ethnicity play a role in how scarred people are. But there are a couple of tricks you can use to diminish the appearance of scars:
1. Use Vitamin E Oil
Apply vitamin E oil or aloe vera gel to help soften and flatten raised scars. Do this two times daily until the scar has diminished (for at least six months). Vitamin E oil is known to speed up wound-healing time and may reduce inflammation of fresh wounds. You should ask your doctor before using over-the-counter treatments on an open injury.
2. Try Using a Silicone Gel
These gels help minimize the appearance of scars and relieve itching and pain by creating a protective barrier. If you’re uncomfortable applying creams to open wounds, ask your doctor about how to apply silicone sheeting while you heal.
3. Don’t Abuse Your Skin
If possible, avoid squeezing or popping any pimples around fresh wounds. This will prevent further scarring and speed up healing time. Avoid smoking too. It restricts blood flow and prevents your body from getting all the nutrients it needs for growth.
There’s nothing we can do to get rid of our scars completely, but we should try our best to minimize them as much as possible and reduce the appearance of scars.