Skin Damage: 15 Mysterious Scar Myths Debunked

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Skin Damage: 15 Mysterious Scar Myths Debunked

You had it since you were six. From what you remember, you were playing tag with your friends in school when someone pushed you hard and you fell on the ground. As a result, you had wounds on your knees and elbows, which are evident right up until today in the form of scars.

For you, it’s not a big deal. However, there are million people out there who worry about their scars and it has even started to take a toll in their self-esteem.

Here’s the thing: The World Wide Web provides you with tons of information about scars, that it’s hard to know which ones are true from the myths, but don’t worry. Check out this list of 15 myths and misconceptions about scars – debunked.

1. Laying the Groundwork: A Glimpse of What Scars are All About

First, it is important to understand what scars are. By definition, a scar is a mark left on your skin or within the body tissue brought by wounds, accident, burns, and any other skin traumas. Believe it or not, scars are the result of your body’s natural healing processes. In fact, your body has its own complex healing system, which activates when you experience trauma.

A Scar is Part of Your Healing Process

woundHere’s why scars form in your skin:

  • When your skin is injured, your body sends a repair team to close the wound and create new skin.
  • Collage, or the protein that makes up your skin, fills in the gaps and pulls the rest of your skin back together.
  • Scars function as a basic type of skin sans the hair follicles and other important glands.

In other words, no matter how unsightly they look, the formation of scars is your body’s way of healing and recovering from any skin injury or trauma.

Now that you know what scars are and how they form, let’s proceed to the common myths and misconceptions about them, shall we?

2. All for One, But Not One for All: The Different Types of Scars Everyone Should Know

You might think that scars are just scars, regardless of how they look. That’s fine. However, scars come in different shapes, forms, and texture – all requiring different kinds of treatment. The reason for this difference in appearance is the way collagen fills your wounds and the balance of collagen to other matters inside your body affects the appearance and visibility of the scar.

Understanding the Different Types of Scars

There are many different types of scars, including:

  • Natural, Thin Scars –This happens when the wound is minor or neat. It lies flat on your skin and looks like it is a part of your skin. They usually come in pale, white, or pink in color.
  • Slightly Raised Scars –They are similar to natural scars but are more noticeable. This could be a bit bumpy and may rise up a bit above your skin. This happens when your wound left irregular gaps between damaged skin layers and the collagen fills in these holes irregularly, as well.
  • Keloid Scars
    Photo by Michael Rodger / CC BY

    Pitted Scars – This is a common result of acne and other skin problems. This type of scar causes sunken areas in your skin.

  • Keloid Scars –This type of scar is raised high above your skin, often irregular in shape. This happens when your body overreacts to the wound, thereby producing more collagen to repair the damaged tissue. Then the excess collagen stays on your skin even after the healing process.
  • Hypertrophic Scars –This type of scar looks as if it is nestled under a surrounding healthier skin due to collagen imbalance in your body.

3. Raised Scars: A Type of Scar You Can’t Treat at Home

Let’s focus a bit on raised scars. Some will say that once you had raised scars, there is nothing you can do about them. In fact, the best solution is to seek professional help because all hope is lost for raised scars.

Here’s the truth: you can still remedy the situation without paying for expensive treatments. Silicone scar sheets are among the most effective solutions to minimize the appearance of raised scars. You can also try silicone gel, which is a good alternative to sheets, since a study showed its efficacy on treating keloid and hypertrophic scars.

The bottom line is that raised scars are not hopeless cases. Go ahead and try silicone sheeting to improve your scar’s appearance.

4. When Your Skin Changes, Scarring Happens

There are various reasons why the appearance of your skin changes:

  • Sun Exposure
  • Pregnancy
  • Existing Skin Conditions
  • Skincare Products

Whatever is the cause of change in your skin’s appearance, one thing is for sure: it doesn’t automatically mean it is a scar.

acneSome people often misuse the term “scar” to describe a change in their skin color. For instance, acne breakouts may cause discoloration, but this doesn’t follow that it will lead to scarring. Lightening products with hydroquinone or kojic acid could help get your skin color back to its original.

The truth is scars have characteristics that go beyond pigmentation. If you noticed any changes in your skin’s texture, like when it appears raised or sunken, then that is a scar. Keep calm and don’t panic immediately.

5. Vitamin E: Your Ultimate Solution for Scars That Won’t Go Away

How many times have you heard about vitamin E as a universal fix for any skin condition? It is true that vitamin E keeps your skin and hair healthy and glowing. However, there are limited studies that prove this solution could make your stubborn scars fade.

According to a study conducted by researchers from University of Miami, the topical application of vitamin E does not improve the appearance of scars. In fact, vitamin E could be irritating to your skin, and could lead to contact dermatitis and other allergic reactions. This hinders the healing process, which could worsen the appearance of scars.

Don’t worry. There are other options available to help you get rid of scars. Vitamin C is a good place to start. You can also opt for medical treatments like laser and steroid injections to reduce its appearance.

6. Go Under the Sun to Turn Your Scars Into Normal Looking Ones

Perhaps you are thinking about going under the sun to even your skin tone. You also heard somewhere that saying hello to Mr. Sun will turn your pink scar into brown and blend in better. In fact, tanning is recommended to hide acne scars.

Here’s the truth: tanning is not the answer you are looking for in case you want to eliminate scars. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause hyperpigmentation in your skin and slow down the healing process, causing the scars to stand out.

What about tanning procedure for acne scars?

It could hide acne scars. However, a tanning procedure has limitations and side effects, such as:

  • Fair SkinThis Usually Works Well If You Have Fair Skin to Reduce the Redness. However, the effects are temporary.
  • Tanning Reduces Acne by Reducing the Oil Causing It. Once the tan fades, your body will compensate by producing more oil, which could cause more acne outbreaks.
  • It is Not a Long-Term Solution Against Scars. Since the method uses either UV machines or body spray, the effects don’t last long.
  • Body Sprays Contain Chemicals that could Further Aggravate Scarring. Consequently, these chemicals are even worse than the UV rays coming from the sun.
  • Price is an Issue. This procedure comes with costs ranging from $5 to $70 per session, depending on the type of tanning used.

7. Scars: Easy to Happen, Impossible to Lose

Depending on the extent of your wound or injury, scars are bound to happen. It is part of your body’s healing process, which means scar formation is dependent on how your body reacts to the wound or injury.

Apparently, some people will tell you that once scars occur, you can never have your skin back. It is a permanent mark on your skin that will remind you of what happened in the past.

Here is something you should know: preventing scar formation is not only possible, but also recommended. In fact, dermatologists and other experts laid down prevention techniques to minimize your chances of getting those unwanted marks on your precious skin.

Prevention Techniques

Here are some ways to prevent scarring:

  • Keep the wound moist to speed healing process and minimize scarring.
  • Get stitches if needed, especially while the injury is still fresh.
  • Massage the affected area everyday to promote a less visible scar.
  • Stay away from the sun or at least do not expose your wound to prevent discoloration.
  • Let your wound heal naturally.
  • Do not pick scabs, since scabs are your body’s natural biologic dressing.

More importantly, be patient. Your body has its own coping mechanism, so don’t rush things.

8. Count a Few Months After Scar Formation to Start Treatment

scar treatmentBefore you treat your scar problem, someone told you that you should wait until the scars formed and fully developed. Here’s the thing: the earlier the treatment for scars, the better it will be for your skin.

When is the best time to start your scar treatment routine? The answer is within one month from getting it. This is because new scars respond best to treatment, which makes it easier and more possible to reduce their appearance.

Still, this doesn’t mean old scars are beyond repair. The advancement in technology makes it possible to reduce scars through various techniques, which you will learn more about in the next sections.

9.  Hydrogen Peroxide: A Surefire Way to Make Scars Go Away

Keeping your wounds clean is important to prevent the formation of scars. When it comes to cleaning wounds, some people will tell you to use hydrogen peroxide. This is a solution made of hydrogen and oxygen to prevent infection.

Although you can use hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent, many health experts warn against it. This is because this solution contains too much oxygen, which reduces the amount of fibroblasts in your body. Fibroblasts are cells needed for cleaning and repairing damaged tissues, thereby minimizing scar formation.

Aside from this, hydrogen peroxide, especially when used frequently, irritates your skin, destroys new skin cells and slows down the healing process.

What is the best way to clean your wound and prevent scars from forming? Use good old-fashioned water and a gentle soap to cleanse the wound, and you will be fine.

10. It Takes Time, But All Scars Will Eventually Lighten or Fade

Let’s say you don’t plan on applying creams on your scarred area and you want to allow nature to run its course. That’s fine. After all, all scars will fade or lighten eventually.

hypertrophic scars
Photo by Cgomez447 / CC BY-SA

Here’s the truth: some scars do fade or lighten, just like stretch marks. It may take months or years, but the scars will become less noticeable in time.However, some scars are meant to last. Examples of this are keloid and hypertrophic scars.

Despite the treatments available, keloid and hypertrophic scars are unlikely to fade without special treatments. In other words, these types of scars could stand the test of time and no matter how old you get.

Don’t worry. Treatments like laser and IPL could help reduce the appearance of itchy, red and raised scars. Make sure you talk to your doctor about it to determine the right treatment for your scars.

11. Keep Your Wounds Either Covered or Exposed to Prevent Scarring

Here is a million dollar question for you: how should you treat your wounds – covered or opened? Most of the time, you want to keep your wound covered until scabs start to form. Then you leave it open to allow the wound to breathe – or it is the other way around.

There are conflicting claims on this one. Some recommend that you keep your wound covered to lock in the moisture and speed up the healing process. This also prevents bacteria and other harmful substances from getting into the wound and compromises your body’s ability to heal. On the other hand, there are those who claim that you should allow your wound to breathe by allowing it air out.

What’s the real deal?

It should be a mixture of both. Keeping your wounds covered or in open air all the time won’t do you any good. In fact, here’s what you should do to minimize formation of scars:

  • CleanClean the affected area with water and gentle soap.
  • Apply an antibiotic or silicone gel cream to keep the area moist.
  • Cover it with bandage during the day to protect your wound from abrasions and harmful effects of the sun.
  • Remove the bandage at night so your wound or injury can breathe.

12. There is Only One Solution That is Best for Your Scars

What often comes to your mind when you hear the term, “scar treatment?” Admit it. Most of the time, you think laser treatment is the best way to get rid or at least reduce the appearance of marks on your skin.

The good news is there are tons of treatments available at your disposal. Each treatment has corresponding type of scar to treat to ensure effectiveness.

Scar Treatments Available for You

The following scar treatments are a good choice for you to try:

  • Silicone Scar Gel or Sheets – Keeps your skin moist and prevents the overproduction of collagen. This works well against keloid and hypertrophic scars.
  • Steroid Injection –Softens and reduces raised scars and at the same time, minimizes the itchiness.
  • Laser Resurfacing
    Photo by SurgicalPhotos / CC BY-SA

    Filler Injection – Treats icepick scars wherein your dermatologist will raise the scar to a surface level of the surrounding skin. Apparently, this provides temporary results.

  • Radiation –Works best for keloid scars and used in conjunction with surgical excision.
  • Dermabrasion –Removes the top layer of the scar to create a smoother surface.
  • Revision Surgery – Reduces the height and width of the scar to reduce its appearance. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well with keloid scars.
  • Laser Resurfacing – Involves the use of laser or light technology to remove the upper layers of the scars. Among the treatments available, this is the most promising, although it entails higher costs and longer recovery time.

Given these treatments, this leads us to the next scar myth.

13. Get Rid of Your Scars and Other Unwanted Marks the Natural Way

They say the best way to treat any condition is by going down the natural path. Natural foods contain ingredients that are less harmful with minimal to no side effects.

The question now is will these home remedies deliver the results?

The truth is, natural ingredients could help minimize the appearance of your scars. At the same time, they contain ingredients known to lighten them with minimal side effects. While some swear by natural home remedies, there are still many others who are skeptical.

Some of the common ingredients used against scars are the following:

  • olive oilLemon Juice – A natural acid with bleaching properties; however, too much lemon juice can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Cucumber – Provides hydration to your skin because of its high water content. Unfortunately, it is unproven whether it could help you in eliminating scars.
  • Olive Oil – A natural anti-inflammatory treatment. Apparently, there are limited studies supporting the claim that olive oil is the best natural ingredient against scars.
  • Tea Tree Oil – An essential oil, it prevents acne-flare ups by killing bacteria that could cause scars.

The bottom line is if you prefer natural method in treating scars, then make sure to use them in moderation. Too much could still lead to skin problems like allergies and irritation. Go ahead and see for yourself.

14. Exercise Has Nothing to Do With Getting Rid of Your Scars

You might be wondering why exercise is part of the list. After all, exercise is meant to make your waistline smaller and encourages you to be healthy. It also releases feel good hormones like endorphins, which boosts your mood and makes you feel more energetic.

Here’s the truth about the relationship between scars and exercise: exercise may not directly affect your scars, but it could help improve your body’s capability to heal wounds. Exercise increases blood flow. Consequently, exercise plays an important role in the appearance of your skin, since collagen needs you to work out to remain youthful.

Before you lift weights, here are exercise guidelines you should remember:

  • Wear loose fitting clothes to prevent bacteria from getting trapped in your body.
  • Choose a routine you enjoy most to ensure consistency.
  • Keep your body hydrated before, during, and after workout to replenish the lost moisture in your skin.
  • Consider meditative exercise since stress impairs your body’s ability to heal.
  • Add aerobic exercises in your routine to increase blood circulation and blood flow to your skin and encourage formation of fiber.

15. White Scars: The Type of Scars That Are Beyond Repair

hypopigmentation
Photo by Olowe2011 / CC BY-SA

First, why do scars turn white?

Initially, scars are either red or purple in color because of the underlying blood vessels and injury to the skin tissue. At the same time, this is your body’s natural response to inflammation, which is also a part of the healing process. As your scar heals, it turns into white, a process called hypopigmentation.

Here’s the thing: white scars are permanent scars and they will never disappear. Still, you can breathe, because depending on your skin color and the damaged caused to the melanocyte cells, a white scar may or may not be noticeable. This means contrary to popular belief, there is a possibility that you can reduce its appearance, although a darker skin tone means more obvious white scars.

You can work with a certified tattoo technician who could imprint a shade that closely matches your skin tone. This way, the white scar will be less obvious to the naked eye. You can also try cosmetic products with a product line intended to cover scars and uneven pigment.

Things to Remember

A lot has been said about scars, and while some are true, there are many others that will make you think twice. Keep this 15 scar myths in mind because the truth is, scars are not hopeless cases. Consult your doctor or dermatologist to determine the best solutions that are appropriate for your scar condition.

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