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.
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 and Self-Esteem

Scars and Self-Esteem

When you have scars, your self-esteem can be affected, especially if the scars are in an area not easily hidden by clothing. Although facial scars often cause the most problems for self-confidence, any visible scar can make a person self-conscious. However, you do not have to let your scars affect your self-confidence. There are several treatment options available for reducing the appearance of scars.

Why Scars Affect Self Confidence and Self-Esteem

A healthy body image leads to a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. However, the opposite is also true. An unhealthy body image often contributes to low-self esteem, a negative self-worth and a lack of confidence. Often, scars cause a person to have a negative body image. When these scars are in a prominent location, especially the face, they can lead to even more problems with self-confidence. First impressions are largely based on looks, and if a person feels self-conscious about his or her appearance, it can make him or her more timid. A person will feel as though other people only see their scars, and believe it affects their attractiveness and ability to make friends.

Scarring also often leads to feelings of depression, which also affects a person’s self-worth and confidence. If the scar came from a traumatic event, there could also be some lingering emotions and feelings associated with that event. Other feelings may be associated the scar, including shame and embarrassment, that also affect a person’s confidence. Studies have shown that people with visible scars feel that the scars affected how others perceived them. In these studies, most people with scars felt that they had some sort of stigma attached to them and that others see them as less attractive. These feelings lead to self-consciousness and a lack of self-confidence. If these feelings of depression are affecting you so much that it is detrimental to your mental health, please seek out the help of a local therapist who can best assist you.

Non-Invasive Scar Treatments

You can get help with your visible scars. There are many topical scar creams available you can put on the scar to help it to heal and lighten faster, although it still takes time for them to work. You want to find a cream that uses effective but safe ingredients, such as silicone, licorice root extract and vitamin C. You should stay away from vitamin E, as it can cause contact dermatitis. If you experience pain or develop a hypertrophic scar or a keloid scar, you should to your doctor about steroid injections, which soften the scar and prevent it getting any worse.

Read: How Long Does it Take for a Scar to Heal?

Invasive Scar Treatments

There are also more invasive scar treatments you can discuss with your doctor to see if they work in your situation. Some of the most common include laser skin resurfacing, skin grafts, excision, dermabrasion, and microdermabrasion. Surgery and skin grafts are usually reserved for scars that impair function or are otherwise problematic. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are two different treatments that help to reduce the appearance of scars and even out the complexion.

Some of these treatments may be used in conjunction with others, or a person might try a few different methods over time if one does not work. The best place to start is usually scar treatment cream, which you can begin using as soon as your wound is healed.

As we like to say, fade the scar not your confidence.

How has your scar(s) affected you? Share your story in the comments, it may just help someone reading.

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