Scars—Overview

Definition

A scar is skin that forms over a wound as the skin heals. There are five main types of abnormal scars:
  • Keloid—Thick scars that grow out from the skin. They spread beyond the site of the wound.
  • Contracture—Often the result of a burn injury. The scar appears as a tightening of the skin. This type may also affect muscles and nerves below the skin.
  • Hypertrophic—Thick, raised scars. They look like keloid scars but do not spread beyond the site of the wound.
  • Atrophic—Thinned out, cigarette paper-like scars.
  • Pitted or Acne—May look like deep pits or be angular and wavelike.

Causes

A scar is part of the normal healing process. The scar is made of the same material as the surrounding skin but it is made a little differently. As a result, the scar tissue appears different than the surrounding skin.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of having a scar include:
  • Injury or type of injury to the skin, such as a cut, scrape, puncture, or burns
  • How your skin scars—some people scar more easily than others
  • Where the injury occurred
  • How long it took for your skin to heal
  • Age, heredity, gender, and ethnicity
  • Infections
  • Acne
  • Surgery
Normal Surgical Scar
Post-operative scar
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Signs and Symptoms

A scar may first look red and thick. It may may feel numb, itchy, painful, or sensitive. Some scars may also cause physical difficulties. For example a scar on the face may affect movement of the eyelids, or restrict motion, especially at a joint.Over time, the scar will change. It may become raised/thick, flat, depressed, dark, or light in color. The type of the wound will affect how noticeable the scar is.

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