Sometimes, especially if you’re prone to pimples or other blemishes, you’ll end up with scars on your face. There are several different types of scars, which can vary in appearance, depending on their cause. Luckily, you’ve got a lot of options to lessen the appearance of scars.
Identifying Types of Scars
As it turns out, there are many different types of scars, and each is caused by a different kind of damage to the skin. Knowing what causes scars is also important when identifying what kind of scar you have.
If you want to minimize the appearance of scars, the first step is to identify what kinds of scars you have.
- Atrophic scars are scars that remain in the skin after injury or trauma. These indented scars might remain after a bad cut or scrape.1
- Keloids occur when your body develops too much scar tissue, and it grows beyond the original injury.2 They’re common after piercings or tattoos and less commonly they can occur after traditional injuries. Besides being unsightly, keloid scars may itch or be uncomfortable.3
- Hyperpigmentation is a scar type in which a patch of skin is darker than the skin around it. These scars can look like a freckle or an “age spot.”4
This list isn’t entirely inclusive of all the different types of scars, but it covers some of the most common categories. If you have a lot of scars on your face, odds are that your scars are one of the kinds listed above.
Kinds of Atrophic Scars
Atrophic scars are a broad category. These kinds of scars can have numerous causes, and they vary greatly in appearance. Let’s take a look at some of the sub-categories of these kinds of scars to better understand their appearance and causes.
- Icepick scars are long, narrow, and deep scars. They form when an injury leads the walls of a pore to be damaged under the surface of the skin.
- Boxcar scars are shallow and often round in appearance. They may appear like pockmarks on the skin.
- Rolling scars are several small scars in a row that can appear like one large pink scar at a distance. Close-up, you’ll see that these scars are actually comprised of numerous small scars alongside each other.5
If you take a close look at your scar and observe its shape, size, and color, you ought to be able to identify what types of scars you have. If you’re still uncertain, a dermatologist can help you.
Skin Peels for Scars
Once you’ve identified the scar type you have, the next step is to minimize its appearance. While there aren’t many home remedies that can get rid of a scar entirely, you may get good results from an at-home skin peel regimen. Skin peels work differently on different types of scars.
→ Look for skin peels that contain salicylic acid, pyruvic acid, TCA, or glycolic acid, as these products are the most effective at minimizing the appearance of scars.6
→ Some kinds of scars respond particularly well to skin peels, while other kinds of scars may respond better to other methods. That’s why it’s particularly important to identify what kind of scar you have before you try to minimize its appearance.7
→ Chemical Reconstruction of Skin Scars, or the CROSS method, is a process by which the skin peel is applied just to the surface of the scar, and it is incredibly effective against certain types of scars.8
→ Chemical peels can take several days to heal, depending on what kind of acids you use. While healing, avoid sun damage by using sunscreen and wearing clothing that covers your skin.9
With any home remedy, be sure to test new products on a small patch of skin to confirm you won’t experience an allergic reaction. Once you know a product is safe, you can apply it to scars and other large patches of skin.
Professional Ways to Minimize Scars
Some scars are too deep, or too severe, to respond to home remedies. In those cases, you may need to see a dermatologist and explore options for more serious scar treatments.
- Punch grafting involves replacing scarred skin with a skin graft from elsewhere on your body. Punch excision operates under a similar principle. The scar tissue is removed and healthy tissue can heal in its place.10
- Microneedling involves several needles that puncture the skin around scar tissue to help it heal. It is an effective way to help minimize the appearance of scars but takes a long time to produce results.11
- Cryotherapy, in which a doctor freezes off scar tissue, has been shown to be effective at minimizing several kinds of scars.12
- Doctors can inject medicine directly into some kinds of scars to help them shrink.13
All of these methods can be effective at helping you minimize the appearance of unwanted scars. Be sure to pick the method that most closely matches the types of scars you have and discuss your options with a dermatologist.
Minimizing the Appearance of Icepick Scars
Icepick scars are incredibly common, but also tricky because they respond differently to certain methods than other kinds of scars.
Many methods to help minimize the appearance of scars only impact the surface of the skin, which means they’re not effective against deep scars like icepick scars.14
Methods that actually penetrate deep skin tend to work better with icepick scars.15
Deep scars, like icepick scars, may even respond well to laser therapy.16
While icepick scars can be harder to deal with than other kinds of scars, it’s still possible to care for your skin while minimizing the appearance of these scars.
How to Minimize the Appearance of Permanent Scars
Now, some scars can never be removed entirely. There is good news, though! Listed below are home remedies and tips for how to lighten scars, shrink scars, or otherwise make them less noticeable.
- Retinol for scars, which are basically topical Vitamin A, may help shrink keloids.17
- Silicone gel can also flatten out some kinds of scars so they appear smaller and less noticeable.18
- Onion skin contains compounds that may help shrink scars. Topical creams that contain onion extract can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmented skin, as well as other kinds of scars.19
- Aloe vera may lighten skin and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.20
- Green tea extracts may help lighten hyperpigmented skin.21
- Orchids and orchid extracts may also help skin resist dark scars, and they are often included in skin-care products.22
- Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which is thought to play a role in helping to reduce the appearance of scars.23 However, be careful about to which types of scars you apply coconut oil, as it’s high in Vitamin E which may make surgical scars worse.24
- Using sunscreen on a wound may help prevent discoloration and minimize the appearance of a scar.25
Different skin types will respond differently to certain methods. You may need to experiment before you find the right solution to help minimize the appearance of your scars.
While the above tips can be great ways to handle existing scars, you can also help prevent scars from forming in the first place. Knowing what causes scars allows you to avoid behaviors that could result in unpleasant scarring.
The steps below are simple and can help you prevent scars from forming without requiring you to dramatically change your lifestyle.
- If you burn yourself, immediately apply cold water and dress it with a bandage that can stay in place for 5-7 days. This may help your skin heal from the burn without forming a scar.26
- In addition to helping existing scars appear smaller, silicone gel can also help your skin avoid forming certain kinds of scars in the first place.27
- Tomatoes are full of a chemical called lycopene, which helps skin resist scars. A diet rich in tomato paste can help you avoid dark scars.28
- In addition to using retinol for scars that already exist, retinol may also help prevent certain conditions that often lead to scarring.29
These simple steps can help you avoid forming scars in the first place, but they can also be paired with the other steps and tips in this article to reduce the appearance of existing scars.
Living Your Life With Scars
Scars can be annoying and unsightly, but they can also be cool. They’re marks of a life well-lived. That said, just because you’ve made peace with your scars doesn’t mean you want them to mar your appearance during a night out, or on a big day.
Loving your skin is so much easier when you can remove painful, itchy, or just plain unattractive scars. While some types of scars are harder to remove than others, there are steps you can take to address any unwanted mark or blemish and lessen their appearance.
Best of all, many types of scars respond well to home remedies or more intense medical steps, so the chances are, you’ll be able to find the right scar-reducing process that works for you.
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21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3663177/ 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20536665/