Opinion is largely divided in this world. We’re divided on which presidential candidate to vote for, where to stand on controversial issues such as abortion, and even what to eat for breakfast. However, there’s one thing we can all agree we wouldn’t want: disfiguring scars.
The Science of Scars
Scars have been the bane of every outgoing person since the invention of the bikini; teenagers who have acne would rather crawl under a mat than face the collective jeers of their peers! However, we probably don’t know that scars are a natural part of the healing process and are dear friends to us, despite what havoc they may wreak on our social lives.
When we experience wounds and traumas to our skin, the body begins the healing process. If blood vessels have been ruptured during the trauma, the body forms a clot around the wound in order to prevent further bleeding. Around this clot, the body begins to repair the wound by forming a criss-crossing foundation of protein called a matrix (think of it like a spider’s web being slowly created around a wound in order to help rebuild the former living tissue that was there). Over time, this mesh-like matrix becomes thicker thanks to cells called fibroblasts. Pretty soon, the matrix completely covers the tear in the skin left by the injury, thereby plugging whatever hole was left from the bruise or cut and replacing the healthy cells that used to be there.
The problem is that the completed matrix, now called a scar, is not like the healthy tissue and cells that used to occupy that area. For one, it is not as well protected against harmful ultraviolet rays coming from the sun. Second, scars do not contain any hair and hair follicles, and hair that used to be there before the injury will not grow back once a scar has formed. Third, the scar will not contain any sweat glands. Last, scars formed on important body parts such as the heart can lead to death since the scar tissue no longer retains the function of healthy cells before it.
The body repairs trauma with scar tissue
How to Remove Scars
Once a scar is there, it can be difficult to remove, so we should focus more on preventing scar formation with the following tips:
- When engaging in a potentially hazardous activity where injury or bruising is common, always wear protective material on any exposed areas such as the arms and legs.
- Do not scratch or pop any zits and acne. We all know how tempting it is to buff that pimple off our face, but it’s better to leave it alone and let the body do its work.
- Always wash your face and apply moisturizers to keep it properly hydrated. If you take care of your skin, there are less chances of developing dryness, eruptions, or itchiness that might lead to scarring.
Once a scar is formed however, there aren’t many ways you can avail to treat it. There is currently no approved drug that can cure scars, but these measures have been proven to be quite effective:
A popular scar treatment cream, Revitol Scar Cream, on display
- Apply a scar treatment cream. There are a lot of products out there that claim to treat scars, but the best they can do is simply minimize its growth and mask the scar’s appearance. However, this is better than nothing, and some creams can be quite effective in making the scar blend with your natural skin colour. Look around popular body and beauty shops to find one that comes from a reputable company.
- Use chemical peels. These are specially treated skin peels that can reduce superficial scars.
- Steroid injections. With this method, steroids are injected right into the scar tissue and would later cause it to shrink. Since there is limited blood supply to the scar, the steroids aren’t readily absorbed by the body and thus pose little to no risk.
- Dermabrasion. This is a slightly more advanced treatment that includes scraping off the skin’s surface to remove scars. Dermabrasion is done under the effect of anesthesia by a skilled doctor.
- Laser treatment and surgery. When all else fails, you can call in the big guns. Laser treatment is best used for acne, while surgery can be applied to those experiencing extensive scarring on large areas of the body. Both are generally successful in eliminating almost all signs of scars.
Scars can be quite annoying and detrimental to our lives, but they are an essential part of the healing process. Still, there is a large market of scar treatment creams, and procedures are available for minor cases all the way to large and disfiguring traumas. However, prevention is always better than cure, and we need to take care of our bodies to avoid getting scars in the first place. Once we understand how to prevent scars and the amount of available treatment for us, there is nothing to fear.