Covering up and treating scars can be frustrating. It doesn’t matter if they are caused by acne, a burn or other injury, or something else, not everyone sees them as a “badge of honour”. If the scar is small or in a place on your body that’s easy to hide, you may not be concerned about the way it looks. But when it’s not so easy to hide, you may begin to wonder if there is a way to hide it, other than under your clothes, that will make it go away, or in the very least reduce its appearance.
Luckily, advances in cosmetic technology mean that scars can be covered, treated and even vanish completely, depending on the type of scar and the treatment you choose.
How to Treat Acne Scars
Acne and chickenpox scars are recessed scars, like skin-coloured potholes that range from deep pits to scars that appear more wavelike. In the past, it was almost impossible to treat acne scars due to the depth of the scarring. Now there are options for both temporary coverage and permanent removal of acne scars. The best choice of acne treatment depends on how severe the scars are.
Acne scar putty is available to help reduce the appearance of certain types of acne scars whilst also improving the look and texture of your skin. In some cases, a dermatologist may suggest a treatment known as microdermabrasion which can help to improve the appearance of acne-scarred areas. For more severe cases of acne scarring, a dermatologist may also recommend a treatment known as laser skin resurfacing.
How to Treat Hypertrophic Scars
Hypertrophic scars are scars that are usually red and raised due to an over-production of collagen and may also be itchy or painful. Hypertrophic scars usually improve over one or two years but may cause distress due to their appearance. They usually form after an injury that involves damage to many layers of the skin, without extending past the original wound.
Silicone gel masks are a commonly used, safe and effective treatment for hypertrophic scars. These can be purchased over the counter or from your dermatologist. Medical treatment for hypertrophic scars include injections of steroids called “corticosteroids” to reduce the inflammation and the size of the scar.
How to Treat Contracture Scars
Caused by severe burning, contracture scars consist of a weblike appearance and marbled skin tones. Contracture scars usually cause tightening of the skin, affecting muscles, nerves and movement.
Most minor burns will heal without any issue and do not require any form of medical care. Once a burn has properly healed, you can manually stretch the skin around the burned area for a few minutes every day. This helps to prevent the skin from sticking together and feeling “tight”. You should also wait for burn blisters to drain by themselves and be sure to cover the affected area with clothing or sunscreen for at least a few months.
Severe burns will need medical care. Some treatments involve working with the damaged collagen whilst a more permanent treatment for burn scars is a surgical procedure called a skin graft, where a surgeon applies skin from another part of your body to the affected area. If the burn scars are affecting muscles and nerves, surgery again will be able to address any functional issues.
The body does a good job of naturally healing scars and using treatments can interfere with that process. For this reason, you should always wait at least three to four weeks before seeking any reduction treatment. If it is not impacting your life in a negative way then it’s best to allow your scar to improve in its own time.