Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve, you wear the story of your life on your skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ, which is subjected to numerous traumas over a lifetime which leave enduring marks, such as bites, burns, rashes, acne attacks, injuries and surgical incisions. By protecting your skin and treating it well you can help stop disfiguring scarring from becoming inevitable and permanent.
Scars are formed when the deep thick layer of skin is damaged. This can be caused by acne or damage to the skin and is the result of the natural healing process of the skin. The formation of scars occurs due to excess production of collagen, prolonged inflammation and excessive proliferation of fibroblasts.
Scar tissue which replaces the original skin tissue is inferior in quality and not resistant to ultraviolet rays. Hair follicles and sweat glands do not grow back within scar tissue.
The main types of scarring are atrophic scars, hypertrophic scars and stretch marks. Atrophic scarring is associated with acne, chickenpox, certain diseases, surgery and accidents. An atrophic scar takes the form of a sunken recess in the skin, which has a pitted like appearance. These are caused when underlying structures supporting the skin, such as fat or muscle, are lost. Hypertrophic scars are due to the over production of collagen that causes the scar to become a raised lump on the surface of the skin. Stretch marks are also a form of scarring which occur during events such as pregnancy and excess weight gain when the skin is subjected to stretching.
Scars disfigure the body by leaving seemingly permanent marks on the skin, in most cases, making it unattractive. They can lower the quality of life of the suffering person by causing low self-esteem and depression. These scars can have a devastating effect on the sufferer and many, especially teenagers, contemplate suicide since appearance is important during the teen age.
How Scars Form
There are many contributing factors that determine the formation of a scar. These can include:
The depth of the injury. The deeper the impact of the trauma on the skin increases the risk of scarring. If you suffer a deep cut or burn on your face, it is wise to consult a doctor for stitches to decrease the scale of scarring.
Acne is a major cause of scarring; popping a pimple maybe a great temporary solution to improve the appearance of spots, but in the long run, it can cause permanent marks on the surface of your skin. If you have squeezed your spots and have been left with acne scarring, help is at hand.
Trauma Location. There are areas of the body that are more prone to scarring than elsewhere, such as the middle of the chest, the earlobe and the tip of the shoulder. Scars that form on the joints are often more visible due to the stretching and movement during the healing process.
Age. A person’s age is a major contributor that determines the formation of a scar. The older you get the less capable your cells are at efficiently carrying out the wound-healing process and the skin takes longer to heal. Younger people heal more rapidly and in a lot of cases this can trigger an over healing response leading to hypertrophic or raised scars.
Family history and skin tone play a vital role in your proneness to an overly aggressive healing process. When this occurs, you can develop elevated hypertrophic and in some even keloid scars. The NHS describes this process “Collagen gathers around the damage and builds up to help the wound seal over. The resulting scar usually fades over time, becoming smoother and less noticeable. However, some scars don’t stop growing. They ‘invade’ the surrounding healthy skin and become bigger than the original wound. These are known as keloid scars”. You have a greater risk of developing keloids if you have darker skin.
Ensure you thoroughly clean the wound at the time of trauma and ensure that all foreign bodies, for example glass and dirt particles, are removed from the area. If the wound becomes infected, more white blood cells disburse to the trauma site and are more likely to leave traces of their presence in the form of more severe scarring.
Hard Scabs. It is essential not to pick¸ this will not only remove the scab but you are also stripping away new skin cells which delays healing, doubling the risk of scarring.
What’s Happening Beneath the Skin (The Sciency Bit)
Scars are caused as a result of burns, surgery or injury and form as part of the healing process.
New skin collagen fibres are rapidly produced to mend this damage and they form a dense network of bound fibres in the area of injury, resulting in scar tissue, which has less elastin and Hyaluronic Acid incorporated and hence has a different texture to the surrounding skin. The collagen fibres all stick together to create a rigid less elastic tight skin texture.
Collagen fibres in the lower levels of the skin along with soft keratin in the upper skin layers provide skin strength and shape. Collagen exists in different forms, but the important ones related to the ageing process and skin damage are Collagen Type-III (mobile dynamic youthful collagen) and Collagen Type-I (known as scar collagen).
Skin cells called fibroblasts produce new Collagen Type-III fibres, which are single stranded and flexible. These strands are linked together by elastic fibres called elastin, which together create a network that can bend and expand and then contract back to normal, so skin maintains its shape.
Elastin (and fibronectine) gives the skin elasticity and work in conjunction with collagen to provide skin structure and ‘springiness’. Loss of elastin leads to reduced elasticity, so when skin creases it takes longer for these creases to expand out again. Scars have very little elastin associated with them and are mainly many compressed collagen fibres ‘stuck together’.
Hyaluronic Acid is a sugary long-chain fibre which attracts and holds water, forming a jelly-like filler which provides skin plumpness and firmness, and keeps the collagen and elastic network in place. As we age, Hyaluronic Acid levels reduce causing the skin to lose plumpness, leading to lines and wrinkles, where again elastin levels are reduced and collagen fibres come into contact with each other and link together more easily as hyaluronic acid levels reduce. In a way wrinkles are like mini-scars in structure.
Fixing the Issue
Thanks to today’s scientific research, the ARA UK are able to help you get the help you need to treat almost all types of scarring whether it is a self-treatment or Clinical treatment option.
We suggest Clinical treatments for Box and ice pick scars because scars with deep indentations are effectively empty space and it is very difficult to remodel empty space. So we need to fill them with new tissue, and then stimulate skin regeneration processes to work to remodel this new rapidly produced scar tissue with more normal skin tissue which will have greater elasticity and structure.
There are lots of treatments and solutions available to you. Contact your nearest Accredited Treatment Centre to learn more and arrange a skin consultation with a skin specialist.
This website is supported by an educational grant by SkinMed