Why is my Scar Darker Than my Normal Skin?

Why is my Scar Darker Than my Normal Skin?

Scarring can lead to rough texture in the skin, an increase of collagen bundles, and a lack of hair follicles or sweat glands. However, it may also create discoloration within the skin, with damaged tissue taking on a darker shade. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and it ranks among the most common effects of hypertrophic, keloid, and atrophic scarring.

What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when a body’s cellular process is changed. Damaged tissue is detected and several chemical responses occur, with a sudden increase of collagen, protein, and melanin (the property that determines the color of a person’s skin, eyes, and hair). These elements are meant to heal the scar. However, they often trigger a sudden darkening of the skin.

Read More: Hyperpigmentation

How Does Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation Affect Scars?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation directly targets scars, sending an excess of melanin to the damaged tissue. This causes instant discoloration, especially around the edges, and can create a variety of shades: brown, black, gray, or even red. Spotting, freckling, or patching can also occur.

It should be noted that no pain is associated with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Its effect on scars is purely cosmetic. However, those suffering from the condition may still wish to treat it.

What Solutions are Available for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation has no cure, but it does have several treatments – all of which can lessen its severity and restore most of the skin’s original texture. These include:

Topical Scar Creams

Topical scar creams prove ideal for treating most post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation cases. They offer much-needed nutrients (such as Vitamin C) that penetrate the skin and restore balance to the melanin production cycle.

Chemical Peels

Those experiencing extreme post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may find topical creams lacking. Chemical peels may instead be needed to address the issue. These options remove layers of damaged skin, softening both the appearance of scars and the starkness of discoloration.

Sunscreen

Ultra-violet rays can exacerbate the effects of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Those wishing to correct the issue must therefore protect their skin. Use lotions with high SPF counts and avoid extended exposure to the sun.

These methods have been proven as successful in the treatment post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. However, it is important to note that the healing process can never be guaranteed. Results will vary.

Hydroquinone: A Warning

A common treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is Hydroquinone. This skin-bleaching agent is meant to counter discoloration and lighten skin’s overall appearance, but these results come with a cost.

Hydroquinone has a high toxicity level. This means it can cause severe damage to the skin, including blistering, burn marks, new discoloration, and extreme tightness. While the product is legal and available without a prescription, it should be avoided. There are better, safer alternatives.

Read More: The Dangers of Using Hydroquinone to Fade Scars and Hyperpigmentation

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The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
5 Ways to Get Rid of Acne Scars

5 Ways to Get Rid of Acne Scars

Scars used to be untreatable. Skin, once damaged, could not return to its former texture, and redness was permanent. This has been a source of lingering discomfort for many faced with acne in their teens and the remaining acne scars throughout adulthood, making it a problem that never really goes away.

However, times have changed, and individuals now have a seemingly endless array acne scar solutions – but which solutions actually work? Five in particular have been proven to provide superior results.

Topical Scar Cream

Topical creams combine natural ingredients (such as Vitamin C or Aloe) with fortified synthetics (such as silicone) to heal, protect, and restore skin. They infuse the body with much-needed hydration and soothe irritation through their antibacterial properties. They provide non-invasive results and can be obtained without prescriptions.

Read More: Topical Scar Lotion

Facial Scar Revision

Facial scar revision redefines the appearance of scars, combining topical treatments – which expedite the healing process and improve pigmentation – with surgery. The procedure, known also as layered closure, involves cutting out the old scar and reclosing it, repositioning  the edges of the scar so it heals better. This is a medical procedure and must be conducted by a certified plastic surgeon.

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a process that involves the removal of scarred skin. It utilizes a series of sharp-edged brushes, rotating them quickly across tissue to “sand away” uneven areas and promote more even texture as the skin heas. This bolsters the body’s ability to heal (as exposing unaffected dermal layers restores balance to collagen production) and helps to improve the appearance of scars. Dermabrasion is a medical procedure but does not require a plastic surgeon. Many dermatologists also perform it.

Read More: Dermabrasion

Micro-Needling

Micro-needling is aptly named. It utilizes countless tiny needles, pricking the skin again and again in a series of controlled bursts. These bursts are intended to stimulate the healing process (as the body will respond to the minor injuries, producing collagen to fill in the minuscule holes). This reduces the appearance of scars by improving facial contours and enhancing the skin’s elasticity. Micro-needling is typically performed by a dermatologist.

Chemical Peel

Chemical peels deliver a low concentration of acid to the skin. They’re typically composed of glycol or TCA (trichloroacetic acid), and they’re used to (gently) remove affected dermal layers. The peels are spread across scars and penetrate the ridges, revealing the softer tissue beneath. These treatments can be done at home, but due to potential risks with improper acidic balances, it is strongly recommended that individuals visit their dermatologists for treatment instead.

Read More: Chemical Peel

Treatment Successes – Patience Required

All scars are different, and will therefore respond differently to treatments. The healing process is determined by a variety of factors, including genetics, collagen production, metabolism, nutrition, stress levels, and age, and it’s impossible to accurately calculate the amount of time needed to experience results from creams, peels, and other solutions. Some individuals may see instant improvements. Others may instead have to try multiple avenues before seeing real results.

When attempting new treatments, it’s important to be patient and allow the body to heal at its own pace. Don’t give up, and don’t try to rush the effects.

Are you curious about the scar solutions mentioned here? Contact us today! We’ll be happy to provide you with more information. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog as well for instant inbox updates!

Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

There are so many different types of over the counter scar treatments that it can be difficult to know whether or not they actually work. The ingredients of the treatments play a significant role in their effectiveness. The right ingredients, especially in the right combination, will facilitate the natural healing process, reducing the appearance of the scar, while other ingredients may not work, or even cause more damage.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is commonly found in skin care ingredients since it is a powerful antioxidant that promotes beautiful skin. However, there is no real evidence that using vitamin E actually improves the scar. Instead, the benefits are most likely due to continued moistening of the area, rather than the infusion of the vitamin. Many people also develop contact dermatitis from vitamin E, so it is another ingredient to avoid.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant, and it plays an important role in the body’s healthy immune response, which includes wound healing. Furthermore, it is essential for proper formation of collagen and elastin in skin, which helps build healthy skin cells, rather than damaged scar tissue, after the skin is injured. Vitamin C also fades the hyperpigmentation that can come with scarring. Therefore, it is an effective and safe ingredient in an over the counter scar treatment.

Silicone

Silicone is another ingredient that has been shown in studies to aid in the treatment of scars, while not promoting any danger. It reduces any redness, pain and itching associated with the scarring, while also improving the elasticity of the skin.

Aloe Vera

Another beneficial, and effective, ingredient for over the counter scar treatment creams is aloe vera. This plant has long been used in cosmetics and first aid creams due to its moisturizing and healing effects. It protects the wound while also promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the collagen structure.

Hydroquinone

Many popular over the counter scar treatment creams contain hydroquinone, and it has a reputation for effectively lightening scars. However, it is a very dangerous ingredient that has been banned in several countries. Even in the smaller doses found in over the counter creams, it can lead to problems such as impaired wound healing, irritation, nail discoloration, and ochronosis (permanent skin darkening).

Kojic Acid

Another seemingly effective scar treatment ingredient that is commonly found in over the counter creams is kojic acid. Like hydroquinone, it may work, but the negative effects are not worth its lightening abilities. Studies have found that prolonged use leads to more sensitive skin and contact dermatitis. It also is not effective at improving the appearance of scars, beyond lightening the skin color.

When OTC Treatments Do Not Work

If you have a keloid, indented scar, or certain other scars, then over the counter treatments will not work. These scars require more invasive treatments, such as laser therapy, collagen injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or microneedling. If you are unsure about the best form of treatment for your scar, then you should discuss it with your dermatologist.

When looking for an effective over the counter scar treatment, you should look for all natural ingredients that do not include preservatives or fragrances, as this could also aggravate the skin. You do not want to use any harsh ingredients; instead, you want to support your skin’s natural healing process, which will reduce the appearance of any scars.

Have a question about your scar or a particular ingredient? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

After the skin becomes injured, scar tissue forms as a part of the natural healing process. This tissue looks and feels different than normal skin tissue because there is excess collagen produced. Different scars also appear different and heal differently based upon the amount of collagen produced during the healing process. Lifestyle, genetics, age, depth and size of the injury, the location, and the treatment of the wound all affect how the scar heals.

Read: Scar Tissue is Different Than Normal Tissue 

Genetic and Lifestyle Influences on Scar Healing

As with any body function, your genetics, which include your ethnicity and gender, influence how your body heals from injury, which is why each person scars differently. These genetic influences cannot be changed, but they can be mitigated through lifestyle changes and certain treatments. Your age will affect scarring as well, because your ability to regenerate cells and heal is reduced.

Lifestyle factors, including exercising, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet, influence your skin’s natural healing process as well. To heal properly, you need to be strong and healthy. Your skin also needs certain nutrients that it can get from food, especially vitamin C and E. You skin also needs plenty of moisture to heal correctly, which is why keeping your scar moisturized is vital. You should also keep active, as long as it does not disturb your wound and your doctor approves it, to promote healing.

The Affect of Wound Treatment

Because scars are caused by injury to the skin, the element that has the greatest influence on its healing process is the treatment of the wound. When you experience a deep cut, including an incision from surgery, the skin needs to be aligned correctly when it is glued, stapled, or stitched back together, or else it will have a larger scar. Your scar will look different whether you have staples, glue, or stitches as well. If the injured skin is brought back together perfectly, then the chance of scarring is reduced, although you may still have a small, almost invisible line. You also want to allow the area to heal completely, and not reopen the wound or get it infected, as this will increase the chance of a larger scar.

How the Type of Scar Alters the Healing Process

There are different types of scars that affect the ability for the scar to heal over time. You may have a hypertrophic scar, acne scar, contracture scar, or keloid scars. Keloid scars are the most difficult to heal, because they are raised scars due to excess collagen that extend beyond the original injury. Contracture scars typically occur after a burn, and they often tighten the skin and can make it difficult to move. Hypertrophoic scars are also raised, similar to keloids, but remain within the area of the wound. Some of these different types of scars occur because of the type of wound, while others form due to genetics, the environment, or other factors.

Read: Scar Healing Time

There is no real way to predict how a scar will heal, as it is highly influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle factors, and treatment. Regardless of the type of scar, you can help it heal by taking care of the wound, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water.

Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Can You Reduce the Size of Acne Scars?

Can You Reduce the Size of Acne Scars?

After battling acne to finally get it under control, many people are left with prominent scars that continue to mar their complexion. If this is the case, then you are looking for ways to reduce the size and appearance of your acne scars. There are several different types of acne scars, and the type of scarring you have may affect the type of treatment most effective for your situation. However, most acne scars can be minimized and faded.

The Different Types of Acne Scars

The severity of your acne and how you treated — or did not treat — any outbreaks affects the type of scarring with which you are left. One of the most common types of acne scarring is known as ice pick scars, which are deep scarring that creates a pitted look in the skin. They are formed due to cysts or inflammation that affects several layers of skin. A similar type of scarring is known as boxcar scars, which are wider than ice pick scars. You may also have scarring known as rolling scars, which creates waves under otherwise normal skin due to fibrous bands of tissue growing between the skin and underlying tissue. Lastly, you may have keloid or hypertrophic scars, which are large, unsightly raised scars.

You might also have other remaining effects from your acne in the form of discoloration of the skin, which are not technically scars but do create problems. This could be either hyperpigmentation, where the scars have excess pigmentation and will look like freckles or blotches on the skin, or hypopigmentation, where there will be no pigment, leaving the mark as white. The skin may also remain red due to damage to the small capillaries in the skin.

How to Reduce the Size of Acne Scars

You can reduce the size of your acne scars, but the best treatment differs based upon the type of acne scarring you have. If you are left with discoloration such as red marks or dark spots after your acne is under control, then you can benefit from using a scar fading cream that helps your skin resume normal pigment production. Smaller and lighter scars can also benefit from scar treatment creams. You want to be sure to use ingredients that are natural and will help the skin’s own natural healing process, including licorice root extract, which lightens any dark spots, and vitamin C, which helps to rebuild collagen and normalize skin growth.

If you have more prominent scars, then you may need to undergo a more invasive skin care treatment, such as laser surgery, subcision, punch excision, grafting, dermabrasion, or dermal fillers. Scar reduction cream can also work on many scars, including hypertrophic scars, especially if it includes silicone as one of the ingredients. Scar treatment creams can only reduce the size and appearance of scars, but they usually do not completely eliminate very prominent scarring. One option that is becoming very popular among those with hypopigmented acne scars, is having the skin tattooed the same color as your flesh so as to camoflauge the scar. You can discuss the different types of treatment, especially the more invasive treatments, with your dermatologist or doctor to find the best solution for your unique situation.

Have a question about your acne scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help!

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