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Healing a scar is a process that typically begins with caring properly for the wound. Wounds that are allowed to become infected are typically more likely to form thick, asymmetrical, or discolored scars that may even protrude from the skin. Scar tissue is generally considered different from normal skin tissue, as it usually lacks sweat glands, blood vessels, melanin, or hair follicles. Scars generally become smoother and more supple with time, but the full process of healing a scar can take up to two years. The appearance of most scars can be minimized with good hygiene, massage, UV protection, proper nutrition, and, if necessary, the application of topical remedies that can help lighten, soften and thin the scar.
Scar tissue generally begins to form as soon as the body sets to work repairing a wound. These tissues are made mostly of collagen. Scars are often initially quite pronounced, thick, and discolored, but, as the scar healing process continues, most scars become thinner, suppler, and paler in appearance. Abnormal scarring, which can cause permanently raised, thickened, or discolored scars, can occur due to a number of factors, including age, genetics, skin type, and location of the scar on the body.
Some of the factors involved in abnormal scarring may be impossible to change. Wound hygiene, diet, sun exposure, and tobacco use can, however, be adjusted to influence the healing of a scar. Infection of a wound often raises the chances of abnormal scarring. Nutrition can play an important role in healing a scar, such that a diet high in vitamins and minerals is typically recommended.
Scars are often more likely to become discolored if they are exposed to UV rays, so applying sunblock or covering the scar with clothing can help minimize its appearance. Tobacco use can disrupt the scar healing process because it often hinders blood circulation. Tobacco use can lower blood supply to the area, leading to a more pronounced scar.
Massaging scar tissue has been said to minimize its appearance. Scars may need to be massaged multiple times per day. Some common topical remedies, like vitamin E, have not yet been proven effective at minimizing the appearance of scar tissue. Researchers believe, however, that the topical application of vitamin C, aloe vera gel, or licorice extract can help with healing a scar. Medicated topical ointments containing dimethicone silicone may be very effective at softening and flattening a thickened, pronounced scar.