Understanding The Scar Healing Process

Human skin is the longest organ of the body that undergoes varieties of injuries leading to wounds and the formation of scars. Scarring in fact is the natural corollary to the healing process of the skin.There could be various conditions that set off the formation of scars. An abrasion, a cut or a deep gash, acne, burns or any other form of rupturing of the layers of the skin, may lead to the skin beginning its own damage control mechanism which usually results in scars. Some scars may end up being more visible and deeper than the other, which makes us want to conceal them or they may be in a certain part of the body and are rather difficult to hide. Intervention during the healing process of the skin can help in reduction in scars and their size , color and proportion. To understand scar healing and how intervention can produce positive results,requires an examination of the scarring process and the types of scars.

The Scarring Process

When the skin heals, the body promotes the chemical called collagen that is produced in accordance with the severity of the wound so as to expedite healing. Sometimes collagen, the main ingredient in skin healing, may be produced in profusion, if affected due to the genetic tendency. However, there are certain identifiable factors that affect the type of scarring. It may occur because, what has usually been noticed is that for the same kind of wound the scar tissue formation may differ in size, color and healing time, from one person to the other.

What is also important to note is that when the scar tissue takes the place of the old skin, it is devoid not only of hair follicles but also of sweat glands.The factors that affect the formation of scar tissue formation include-age, gender, ethnicity,the location of the wound,type of wound, genetic tendency,the initial manner in which the wound was treated,hormones and the effect of medication and diet.

Factors Affecting Scar Healing

* The type of wound determines the reaction of the body.The larger the wound the greater the chance of a large scar. Cosmetic surgery, burns, cuts and skin allergies and outbreaks may also result in varieties of scarring.

*Skin type governs to an extent the formation of scars. Those with dark skin, mainly the Asian and the Afro-Caribbean, tend to have formation of keloids that may be stubborn and proliferate beyond the wound area.Those with darker skin are fifteen times more likely to get keloids and abnormal scarring.

* Genetic factor also is significant as some people produce more collagen and thus suffer from deeper scars.

*The location of the scar which decides the skin tension levels due to stretching and movement of muscle below, may also affect both shape and size of the scar.

* Age and the impact of hormones do play a part as scarring is more acute around puberty and pregnancy and tends to reduce as one approaches menopause.

* Infection of the wound and those with a history of abnormal scarring, tend to develop stubborn and deeper scars.

To understand how scar healing can be improved with minimal damage to the original skin structure needs a look at the various kinds of scars , their manifestation and the varieties of ways that can aid their healing.

*Contracture Scars-These occur when the skin has been burnt and proliferates deep into the layers of the epidermis to reach the bone and the nerve. The skin usually tightens as a result of this and it may lead to immobility of that part of the body.

*Keloid Scars are formed due to hyper healing by the skin with the regenerative process creating raised darker or sometimes reddish scar tissue that exceeds the wound. It is seen mostly among those with darker skin.

*Hypertrophic scars are also large scars that are raised above the surface but do not grow beyond the wound area.

*Acne scars occur in cases where deep pits are formed on the skin and where repeated outbreaks may lead to severe scarring, almost disfiguring the entire skin.

The Scar Healing Process

Scar healing may take up to a year or more to complete during which the scar itself undergoes many changes. The scar healing process occurs in three phases.

The Inflammation Phase-This is the time of maximum reaction by the skin to mitigate the damage by producing maximum collagen, rushing white blood cells to keep the wound safe of all infections, and fluids being retained to keep the wound from bleeding or hurting. This phase may last up to a week.

The Proliferation phase of scar healing brings about a pulling of the edges of the scar inwards , formation of new capillaries and a slightly wet look to the entire wound. The production of collagen continues right through this phase.

The maturation phase of scar healing may take up to a year and may lead to a greater production of collagen to replace the old skin tissue and a complete restructuring of the scar. It may transform from being a raised reddish tissue to being flatter and more paler in color.

Positive Intervention In Scar Healing

While scars can never be removed permanently ,they however may be made less prominent by altering their size, color and position. Some scars obviate some kind of an intervention which need not necessarily be due to cosmetic requirements, as they may get infected, itchy or simply lead to restriction in movement. There are numerous treatment methods available to address scar healing issues.

* Corticosteroid injections given repeatedly not only affects in controlling the inflammation but given every four to six weeks, are known to effectively reduce keloidal and hypertrophic scars.

*Silicon gel sheets used for compressing the scar , may be used under medical supervision and can be procured easily. It helps in limiting the spread particularly of keloids and can be used up to three months.

*Surgery may also help but also create newer scars which again may be needing injectibles like corticosteroids to contain their formation. Laser skin resurfacing is used for deep pits and in improving collagen production for the skin leveling process.

*Pressure dressing and silicon gel sheets may be combined to cover the wound and keep it from growing beyond normal proportions. It can be used to keep large wounds from becoming too deep and may be used only under medical supervision and advise.

*For smaller scars especially on the face, dermal fillers too are used mainly for acne scars. In addition, the laser light treatment alongside will help scar healing by reducing the red capillaries from forming in the new tissues, thus keeping the skin lighter.

* Dermabrasion may be another form of treatment that may be effective for pockmarks or scars that are below the surface of the skin.

There are numerous products lining the shelves in the markets which promise scar healing and reduction of scars. Creams containing stable topical vitamin C , has been known to promote skin lightening and thereby may prove helpful in scar removal. But it is important to remember that scars depend a great deal on the manner in which we handle the healing process and how long one is using products or treatments through which we initiate the healing. While vitamin C and vitamin E are known to be skin friendly nutrients to help in skin regeneration , the manner in which it is combined in the topical cream and the level of skin sensitivity will ultimately decide how effective ascar healing formula it would be.

Many natural extracts go into topical treatment methods like lavender oil, aloevera gel ,tree tea oil, green tea, rose hip oil, tamanu oil, seabuckthorn oil and sandalwood that are potentially known to have skin rejuvenating and healing properties. Scar healing can also be impacted with the right care while the scar tissue is forming . Apart from the bandaging and the use of the required ointment to prevent infection, it’s important to keep the area moisturized so as to aid its flexibility.Do not expose the scar to sun as it causes more collagen buildup and scar darkening. Also gently massaging the scar may not only breakdown toughened layer of tissue, it will provide the new skin more flexibility.If your scar becomes red , itchy and begins swelling up , do see your doctor. While there may be sophisticated procedures to help many discover dramatic scar healing , there are an equal number of scar healing creams that with the right application and recommended period of usage, provide similar dramatic results.