What Causes Scars?

Scars are just your body’s way of healing

Scarring is a by-product of your body’s natural healing method. So that we can heal very quickly our bodies close up a wound as fast as possible to prevent infection, rather than try to reproduce the skin exactly as it was previous to the wound. This is believed to have been an evolutionary advantage, however now it means that we are dissatisfied with the marks left on our skin. Once your skin has been disrupted it cannot grow back in an identical fashion. Instead, your body makes a new form of skin, one that may appear paler or darker in color to the original.

Scars are composed of collagen and other proteins that would normally be thought of as just your skin although slightly altered, however scars are very precisely positioned. All of the cells that make up a scar will point in the same direction thus making them noticeable, and they react differently to the surrounding skin. For example, scars are usually a lot more sensitive to UV rays, don’t grow hair and are often of a different color than the skin that was there previously.

A variety of different treatments can make scars less visible and improve their appearance. But the options available to you may depend on the type of scar that you have. Be aware that scars never disappear completely, although most will gradually fade over a long period of time. Over time, normal scars and hypertrophic scars will fade and become much paler.


There are several different types of scars including:

1. Keloid scars:

Keloids are itchy clusters of scar tissue that grow beyond the edges of the wound or incision. They occur when the body continues to produce the tough, fibrous protein known as collagen after a wound has healed. They are more common in dark-skinned people.

Keloids are treated by injecting a steroid medication directly into the scar tissue to reduce redness and itching. However, the disheartening fact is that keloids have a tendency to recur, sometimes even larger than before, thus requiring repeated procedures.

2. Hypertrophic scars:

These scars, unlike keloids, remain within the limits of the original wound. They often improve on their own, though it may take a year or more. They may also require steroid applications or in some cases may have to be improved surgically.

3. Contractures:

Burns or other injuries that result in the loss of a large area of skin may form a scar that pulls the edges of the skin together, a process called contraction. Improving a contracture usually involves cutting out the scar and replacing it with a skin graft or a flap. In some cases, a procedure known as Z-plasty may be used.

4. Facial scars:

Mostly, facial scars are cut out and closed with tiny stitches, leaving a less noticeable scar. Some facial scars can be softened using a technique called dermabrasion that leaves a smoother surface to the skin, but does not completely erase the scar.