After an injury, the body goes through a natural healing process to fix this damage. If the wound is deep enough, new thick tissue is formed within this area, creating a scar.
Initially, a scar may be red, raised, itchy, and/or painful, but this subsides over time. It will typically flatten and become nearly the same color as the surrounding undamaged skin. This normal type of scar is called a cicatrix.
Some abnormal scars form when the body produces excess collagen and continues to make scar tissue after the wound has healed. These scars can be itchy or painful, and they may need corrective treatment.
Hypertrophic scars are firm, thick scars that form above the surface of the skin. These usually show up within 2 months and may flatten naturally, but this can take months or years.
Keloids form above the skin and normally take 3 to 12 months to develop. Unlike cicatrices and hypertrophic scars, keloids grow much larger than the original wound area. They also don’t go away without treatment and are more likely to return.
Hypertrophic scars and keloids are often just cosmetic concerns. However, they can become a more significant issue if they restrict movement by becoming too large or forming at jointed areas (e.g., shoulders or elbows).
Atrophic scars are depressions that form when the body doesn’t produce enough collagen during wound healing. These scars primarily develop on the face because of skin concerns like severe acne.
Rolling scars are wide, shallow indentations with sloped edges that make the skin look wavy and uneven. They typically form on the lower cheeks and jaw.
Boxcar scars are depressions with steep, sharp edges that normally form on the cheeks and jaw. These scars are deeper and narrower than rolling scars.
Ice pick scars are more severe than other atrophic scars. They taper to a point as they extend below the skin’s surface, forming small, deep indents. These are commonly seen on the forehead and upper cheeks.
Scar contracture occurs when any type of scar restricts movement. The new scar tissue within a healed wound is tighter than undamaged tissue. If this scar tightens too much, it can cause discomfort by limiting mobility and affecting joints, muscles, and nerves.
The way a scar forms is often related to wound care, so it’s important to follow after-care instructions properly. But, if a scar becomes a cosmetic or health concern, ask your physician about the surgical and non-surgical treatments available for scar management.
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