Do Scars Spread?

Do Scars Spread?

The answer is yes and no. Typical scars, like acne scars, surgery scars or c-section scars do not spread. Of course, if you gain weight, then it is merely the skin stretching rather than the scar actually spreading.

However, there is one type of scar that will spread beyond the bounds of the wound, and that is a keloid scar.

Keloid Scars

In the simplest of terms, keloid scars are scars that become enlarged because your body is producing too much collagen—and therefore, too much tissue—at the site of the wound. Typically, keloid scars become raised in a dome-shaped fashion and begin to expand beyond the original location of the wound. Keloid scars are usually pink, shiny, and tender to the touch.

Read: Do Genes Determine Keloid Scars?

Needless to say, developing keloid scars can be bizarre and frightening for those who have never experienced keloids before. The good news is that keloid scars are no more dangerous than other types of scar tissue. Some patients complain about them being more painful, but usually, they are just itchier as they heal. The bad news is that they are often more unsightly than other scars, leading patients to seek surgical methods or other solutions to try to shrink them or have them removed.

Read: Who is at Risk for Developing Keloid Scars?

The Difference Between Scar Types

Though many people aren’t familiar with the lingo, there are several different types of scars out there. The first and most common type, of course, is a simple flat scar. If you cut your skin, you will normally heal quickly, with nothing but a pale white line on your skin to mark the spot where you had your wound. These scars can’t spread at all and don’t even become raised above the skin. In other words, they are the least invasive of all scars.

The second type of scar is called a hypertrophic scar. The word hypertrophic means “enlarged” or “excessive growth,” but unlike keloid scars, hypertrophic scars don’t spread beyond the wound. Instead, these scars may thicken and appear to be raised above the skin. Hypertrophic scars are typically redder and more visually obvious than flat scars.

There are other types of scars—including contracture scars, which actually tighten your skin, usually after a burn, and pitted scars, which can result from picking or itching at acne or chicken pox. Of all of the types of scars, keloid scars are unique in their ability to spread beyond the area of the original wound.

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

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  1. 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.
  2. I had a baker chyst surgery in 2014 august
    .after the surgery Ihad this itching on popliteal zone and weeknes in my calf.
    After one year it started with burning both of my legs and needels and fasciculacions
    neurological problems…my surgery it burning today and I cant stay in my foot anymore …my doctor from EMG told me that could be a small fibre neuropathy and if it is this because Iwill have a skin biopsy Iwant to ask you Could thisSFN been from the surgery that it stiil hurt me with burning.
    My doctor told me that the operation is looking normal but a plastician doctor told me that the fibre suture is still there so Icant straight the leg.
    Could all this give me a small fibre neuropathy….plastician dr want s to
    Open the operation.
    I dont understand how it hurting me the other leg to…i have a little baker cyst there to Can you hellp me with an advice I cant work anymore.
    Thank you

    • Hi Corina, I’m sorry to hear you’re having all these problems. Unfortunately, what you are experiencing doesn’t sound to be related to your surgery scar and is beyond our expertise.

  3. I have a.. um.. self inflicted scar on my inner left wrist, close to the elbow. When I was taken to the hospital for it, they glued it shut, but the glue didn’t hold and two days later the scar was wide open so we just let it heal that way instead. Now, eight months later and three rounds of steroid injections later, it’s flat but it’s red and you can see the blood vessels beneath it. And, it seems to have spread. There are two jagged lines that have opened up on the right side of it, a thinner one pointing towards my hand and the other wider one towards my shoulder.

    I’m wondering if a scar can spread or open beneath the skin like that. The skin over the other scar is scar tissue as it appears and feels the same as the skin over the scar. My doctor hasn’t expressed any worry over it and says that it’s healed well and we’re looking into a round of silicone treatment to reduce the redness of it.

    Jazelyn xx

    • Hi Jazelyn, It sounds like you may have a couple of issues going on here. The first is the delayed wound healing from the initial injury. The second is skin thinning which can be a side effect of steroid injections. Silicone therapy won’t thicken the area of thin skin. It’s hard to get an accurate idea of your scar without seeing it, but in terms of healing, you may be best served by a surgical scar revision: excising the part of your scar that’s giving you problems, including the area of very thin skin, and reclosing the area as a fresh scar. If your doc doesn’t perform scar revision, consider visiting with a board certified plastic surgeon. Hope that helps!

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