A scar is a mark left behind after a wound to the body has healed. Scars form when the skin heals itself after an incision or trauma and is formed by fibrous tissue such as collagen.

Not all scars look alike and scars can form for a variety of reasons, for example, as the result of surgery, infection, injury, burning or inflammation of tissue. The greater the damage to the skin and the longer it takes to heal, the greater the likelihood of a noticeable scar.

Types of scarring

Scars are the body's natural way of looking after itself, and form and look different depending on their cause. Scars also vary depending on factors such as your age, sex and ethnicity. While some scars are barely noticeable, there are some types of scarring that can appear more prominent.

Keloid scars - are raised red scars that are the result of an overactive healing process. Keloid scars extend past the point of the original injury and can sometimes restrict movement and cause discomfort as well as occasional disfigurement. However, they can also be treated with the help of surgery, injections or steroids.

Hypertrophic scars - are similar to keloid scars, but do not extend past the edges of the original injury. They can be treated in the same way.

Contracture scars - are typically caused by burns. These scars cause a tightening of the skin that can restrict mobility.

Acne scars - are scars caused by severe acne. They are caused when the skin tries to repair the damage caused by acne by replacing damaged skin cells with new ones.

Scars - prevention and treatment

The formation of scars can often be aided with the help of treatment at the time of the initial trauma. Cold compresses can often help prevent the formation of keloid scars, while neat and controlled incisions can reduce the risk of visible scarring - this is why scarring is typically minimal following surgery.

Some scars, such as those caused by acne or similar traumas, can be treated with methods ranging from medical microdermabrasion to skin peels or laser treatment.

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