Thick, Painful or Ugly Scar?

You don’t have to live with that thick, painful and/or ugly scar. Whether it be from a cut, burn, surgical procedure or scratch, there are methods of improving both the color and raised nature of scars.

There are different types of scars and the treatment and prognosis differs depending on the type. Many normal scars can be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. This is often due to sun exposure during the healing phase. It is caused by the new melanin (which gives the skin color) being exposed to the sun while it is maturing, leading to discoloration.

A more severe form of scarring is called hypertrophic scarring, which can be genetic or the result of poor healing in certain areas of the body, the foot being one of the most common locations. Hypertrophic scars are raised and can have color changes. However, they do not exceed the boundaries of the original wound (cut, burn or surgical).

The most severe form of scarring is called keloid scarring. This is a genetic condition that leads to severely enlarged and pigmented scarring that exceeds beyond the borders of the original injury. They can be caused by very small injuries, even a small scratch. Most people are aware by the teenage years that they are prone to keloid formation.

All forms of poor scar formation are treatable, with keloid scarring being the most difficult and least responsive. The treatments range from injection with steroids or chemotherapeutic agents, steroid gels or creams, silicone pads and/or surgical removal.

There are several ways to help prevent poor scarring, whether from a genetic condition or not. Avoiding sun exposure during melanin maturation is very important. I recommend sunscreen on a healing area for up to 6 months after it has healed to allow normal maturation. Using silicone padding over the scar can help reduce the thickness and raised nature of scars. Silicone has been found to reduce the formation of excess collagen that is attributed to causing a thickened scar. These can be used for a year or more to help improve scar appearance since skin healing and remodeling can last for up to 18 months.

Prevention of scarring by early recognition and intervention is the key to decreasing poor appearance. If you have a painful, enlarged or ugly scar, give us a call. You don’t have to live with it!

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