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

Want to know more about post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation? Leave a comment! We’ll be happy to respond. Don’t forget to also subscribe to Scars and Spots. Our posts will be sent directly to your inbox.

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.
How to Lighten Elbow Scars

How to Lighten Elbow Scars

Your elbows are a surprisingly vulnerable part of your body. You often hit them on something as you walk by, and when you trip and fall your elbows can often take the brunt of the fall. Bumps and bruises are one thing, but significant skin damage such as a laceration usually results in scarring.

When scarring does occur on the elbows, it is often worse than scarring on other parts of the body. Since the elbow is a joint, constant stretching of the skin can make scars wider and darker compared to scars away from joints. There are safe ways to fade and lighten elbow scars to make them less noticeable.

Watch out for Dangerous Skin Lighteners

Some products on the market promote themselves as skin lighteners, and they do work. However, they have potential side effects that make it dangerous to use the products. One example is hydroquinone, a popular ingredient in scar treatments. It works by inhibiting melanin, the substance that produces skin pigment. Although this does lead to a lighter skin tone, the product can be toxic especially in higher concentrations. Kojic acid is another popular skin lightening ingredient that works, but at also sometimes at a cost. It can cause heightened skin sensitivity and can increases the risk of allergic reactions.

Choose Products that Promote Skin Healing

One of the best ingredients to look for is vitamin C. It promotes healthy collagen production and fights free radicals which damage the skin cells. Vitamin C also decreases the excess pigmentation after skin injury that can lead to scars becoming darker and more visible than the surrounding skin.

Licorice root extract is another ingredient that helps to lighten elbow scars. Compounds in licorice inhibit melanin activity, which in turn fades abnormal skin pigmentation. However, it does not have the side effects of harsh ingredients such as Kojic acid or hydroquinone.

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

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Do These Skin Lighteners Work?

Do These Skin Lighteners Work?

Many people try to find the perfect skin lightener to help fade unsightly scars, but are faced with a dilemma as they try to determine which products on the market actually work. Additionally, you have to be careful about using some of the products out there that are slightly effective, yet dangerous. Before you choose a scar treatment to reduce the look of your scars or dark spots, you should know more about the different ingredients. Some of the most common treatments for skin lightening, include lemon juice, hydroquinone, kojic acid, and vitamin C.

Lemon Juice on Acne Scars

Lemons are truly a versatile citrus fruit, with a variety of health, beauty and home cleaning uses. Lemons contain vitamin C, limonene, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), hesperidin, quercetin, naringenin, and other phytonutrients that are beneficial to skin health. Many studies have found beneficial uses of lemons, if consumed, such as aiding to reduce acne. However, lemon juice directly on your skin can cause photosensitivity, and since UV rays can darken your scar, it is not advisable to do so.

Read: How Does the Sun Affect Scars?

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has become a popular skin lightening cream, and is a popular ingredient in scar treatment products. Hydroquinone inhibits melatonin, which is the protein that provides your skin color, so it does lighten the skin. However, it can be toxic in high concentrations, including having carcinogenic properties and contains mercury. It has also been associated with ochronosis, a disfiguring skin condition that darkens the skin. It can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, which can increase your risk of sunburn. It is common to have allergic reactions to the chemical and due to this, some countries have banned hydroquinone. It is best to not use hydroquinone and rely upon other treatments to help heal your skin.

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

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid comes from Japanese mushrooms and is also a byproduct of the fermentation process that produces sake. It can lighten skin, but it does not help diminish other aspects of scars. It can be dangerous to use because it can cause heightened skin sensitivity, cause hormone disruption, and lead to allergic reactions. It also can increase the risk of sun damage because it weakens the natural defenses against UV rays. Therefore, it is best to avoid kojic acid.

Read: Does Kojic Acid Work on Acne Scars?

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and important vitamin that promotes the body’s natural healing processes. Many people know to take vitamin C when fighting a cold or the flu, but it can also help your skin heal from injury and trauma, including reducing scars. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C fight the free radicals that cause cellular damage to the skin, which includes to the melatonin that affects your skin color. Therefore, it can help to lighten the skin and fade scars, especially when using a scar treatment that has a stable form of Vitamin C. It goes beyond just lightening the skin; it also promotes healthy collagen production, which can reduce the size and appearance of scars and keep your skin healthy.

When choosing a scar or skin lightening treatment, you should avoid the harsh skin lighteners such as kojic acid and hydroquinone, and stick with products that have licorice root and especially vitamin C.

Do you have a question about your scars or dark spots? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help.

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How to Fade Leg Scars

How to Fade Leg Scars

The legs are often the parts of your body that see the most damage, especially if you are a very active individual. From sports injuries to simple, everyday bumps and bruises, there are many ways you might end up with scarring on your ankles, skins, knees, and thighs. It may also be a little more difficult to allow injuries on your legs to heal property, as regular daily activity can open up healing wounds or lead to more damage. That can, in turn, increase the visibility of potential scars.

It’s easy enough to hide visible scarring on the legs most of the time, as you can wear jeans, pants, or leggings to keep them covered. However, with warmer weather and more skin exposed, you might be looking for a solution that will fade leg scars so that they are not overly noticeable.

Read: How to Fade Mosquito Bite Scars

The first and most important thing to remember is that the newer a scar is, the easier it is to minimize its appearance. Ideally, you should begin caring for an injury – any injury – during the healing process. This includes even minor injuries such as scrapes, as the skin on your legs may scar more easily and noticeably than the skin of other parts of the body.  Keeping your wounds clean will help prevent infection, as an infection can increase of the scar that remains. Also remember to be careful of the clothing that you wear during the healing process while you are letting an injury on heal, as tight clothing can lengthen the time it takes for the injury to heal and can make scarring worse.

Once an injury has completely healed, or as reached a point where topical treatments are safe to use, you can begin treating it with a scar treatment that contains Vitamin C in order to begin fading its appearance. To use a scar treatment, be sure that the area of the scar is completely cleaned prior to application. Gently massage the scar lotion into the scar, ensuring that the entire area is covered. You’ll see dual benefits of the massage and the scar lotion as the massage will help soften the scar tissue and the treatment will help to flatten and fade your scar. You should do this twice a day.

Beware home remedies and drugstore scar treatments that claim to provide instant results – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Stick to products that contain aloe, Vitamin C, licorice root extract and dimethicone silicone.

Lastly, when out in the sun with your legs exposed, always wear a braod spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. UV rays can permanently darken your scar.

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

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How To: Get Rid of Dog Bite Scars

How To: Get Rid of Dog Bite Scars

In the United States alone, 4.5 million people are the victims of dog bites each year. Of these, half are children. And one out of every five dog bites is serious enough to require medical attention. In spite of that seemingly large number, keep in mind that there are over 70 million pet dogs in the US, meaning that most of them never bite people. The ones that do, however, can inflict serious injury, not to mention lasting scars.

Read: Do Scars Grow With Age?

Dog bites can be tricky to deal with, and it can be even trickier to predict what kind of scar will eventually form. All dog bites are unique; they can be on different areas of the body, often involve the face, and typically have an irregular shape, jagged edges, and non-uniform depths.  This can result in a non-uniform scar, one that has uneven thicknesses and uneven colors. Dog bites can range from small puncture wounds or scratches to moderate cuts to extremely severe injuries with large areas of skin, tissue, and even bone damage.

Whether a dog bite requires medical treatment or not, the first step in minimizing scarring is preventing infection. The inflammation of infection will typically lead to delayed healing and a more visible scar once the wound finally does heal. If your doctor recommends that you take antibiotics, follow his or her instructions; this will help you avoid infection. Otherwise, be sure to keep the wound clean and covered, and consider using an antibiotic ointment as it heals.

As soon as the bite heals, begin using a scar treatment product on the area. Look for one that contains silicone, which has been proven to minimize scarring as well as help fade existing scars. Also choose a product that contains only safe and natural ingredients, such as licorice, vitamin C, and aloe vera, and does not contain dangerous chemicals like hydroquinone.

Be sure to apply the product directly to your skin. If the scar is in an area that is exposed to sunlight when you go outside, do wear a strong sunscreen, but apply it after your scar treatment has been applied and is dry. Avoid exposing your healing scar to the sun’s UV rays, as this can cause darkening or discoloration of the scar, which can be permanent. Massaging the scar, getting plenty of exercise, avoiding smoking, and eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins A and C, protein, and zinc will all help the scar heal faster and better.

Some dog bites may require scar revision. This may be an issue especially when the dog bite is on the face. Because dog bites to the face can leave wide, jagged, dark, or highly visible scars, every effort is made to minimize the scarring as much as possible. Sometimes multiple surgeries are performed. This can be an effective way to prevent a large visible scar; just remember that scar revision does leave a new scar. However, it will be much less noticeable than the original scar, and taking the steps listed above to minimize it can give you a beautiful result.

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

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photo credit: evocateur via photopin cc