Problems tackled: 23,701

Scars

Most injuries to the skin result in scars – tattoos are one of the few exceptions. We all have some scars and, of course, anyone who has been damaged in an accident or had a surgical operation will be left with a scar.

Why scars occur

After injury to the skin, our body’s priority is to make a rapid and strong repair. This would have been particularly important for primitive man, living in dirty and dangerous conditions. Although scars may look unattractive, they are an efficient way of healing. To regenerate tissue that was the same as before would take longer, with the wound remaining vulnerable during the process.
 
Surgeons are very keen to minimize scarring after their operations, because they know that scars can be distressing. Whenever possible, they make their incisions along lines in the skin that will heal best. They also take great care with ‘sewing up’ the skin. But sometimes a nasty scar cannot be avoided.
 

Questions to ask yourself if you are bothered by a scar

How recent is the scar? A recent scar will probably become less noticeable in time. Most scars take 2–3 years to become pale. If you see a doctor for advice about a scar that is less than 1 year old, you will probably be advised just to wait and see.
 
What is really bothering me? Is the appearance of the scar the main problem? Or does the scar interfere with movements (which may happen with a large scar over a joint, especially a burn scar) Is the scar causing any other problems such as itching or discomfort?
 
How much trouble and expense am I prepared to go to? There are lots of treatments for scars. The simplest are creams and oils, or ‘scar plasters’ (special adhesive strips). You can buy these treatments from pharmacies, but you have to use them for some time, and it is uncertain whether there will be any result. So you could spend a lot of money for nothing. At the other end of the spectrum, doctors might advise cutting the scar out, which is a surgical operation.
 
What type of scar do I have? Not all scars are the same! Different types of scar need different types of treatment, so try to work out what type you have.
  • Stretch marks are common after pregnancy.
  • Stretched scars can also occur after surgery. The original scar is satisfactory, but over a few weeks it gradually widens to become a pale, soft scar. These scars are not usually uncomfortable, but the appearance may bother you.
  • Keloids are large, bulky, raised scars. They can be very unsightly. Unlike other scars, they gradually grow bigger. They are most common in black skin.
  • Other raised scars (not all raised scars are keloids) can occur after burns or surgery but, unlike keloids, they do not keep growing. They are often red and itchy.
  • Chickenpox and acne scars are flat, small and slightly sunken.
  • Shrunken scars are common after burns and can cause problems if they lie across joints. The medical term for these scars is ‘contractures’.

What can I expect from treatment? Whatever treatment you go for, it is best not to have too high expectations. Do not expect that any treatment will get rid of the scar completely, and then you will not be disappointed.

Treatments for scars

Creams and massage may help. Any sort of moisturizing cream will do; ‘cocoa butter’ cream is a popular choice. Apply the cream and then gently massage it into the scarred area with a circular movement. Do this for about 5 minutes twice a day. Do not use steroid cream; it will not help (British Medical Journal 2004;328:1329–30).
 
Sunblock is important if the scar is on exposed skin. Scars do not contain the normal pigments that protect skin, so burn easily.
 
Silicone gel can be bought from pharmacies. Silicone gel sheeting is used by hospitals to soften and flatten scars, but it is questionable whether the gel has an equivalent effect (British Medical Journal 2004;328:1329–30). It is also very expensive.
 
Consider camouflage with special make-up (see useful contacts). Camouflage creams can stay on the face for up to 18 hours and on the body for 3–4 days. If applied properly, they are waterproof so you can swim or shower without losing the cream (MIMS Dermatology 2006;2:44).
 
Specialist treatments. If simple treatments do not help, discuss the matter with your doctor. Explain clearly to your doctor what the problem is – whether it is the appearance of the scar, or discomfort, or perhaps interference with movement of a joint if it is near the scar. Your doctor can then refer you to an appropriate specialist. For example, acne scars might be best dealt with by a dermatologist, while a plastic surgeon would be the best person to deal with keloid scars.
 
Different scars need different treatments. The specialist might recommend compression therapy, laser therapy, injection of a special steroid, freezing or application of a special silicone sheet (which has to be worn 24 hours a day for up to 1 year). A wide, stretched scar could be cut out by a surgeon to leave a thin, neat line.
 
Keloid scars are particularly difficult to treat, because if they are cut away another keloid often forms in the new scar. A combination of surgery with radiation, steroid injection or pressure therapy may be used. Keloid scars can also be treated by a combination of laser treatment and steroid injection (Surgery 2006;24(1):18–20, Lancet 2009;373:1264–74).
 
Do not be surprised if the specialist advises leaving the scar alone, and just waiting for it to become less noticeable; this might be the right thing to do.
 
Private treatment. If you decide to see a cosmetic surgeon privately, be very careful. Ask your family doctor for advice, and look at the section on choosing a cosmetic surgeon.
 
For the future, a drug called avotermin is showing promise. This is a substance that is normally made by some of the healing cells in the skin. Researchers cut the skin of volunteers, and found that injecting avotermin at the same time reduced later scarring (Lancet 2009;373:1264–74). More research needs to be done, and it is not clear if this treatment would improve old scars.
 
Acknowledgement
Special thanks to Dr A Bayat and Professors D A McGrouther and M J W Ferguson for their excellent article from which I obtained many of my facts on this topic (Bayat A, McGrouther DA, Ferguson MJW. Clinical review: skin scarring. British Medical Journal 2003;326:88–92).
 

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Tuesday, August 2nd 2011

 


Useful contacts for Scars

Click to see all the contacts that you may find useful in relation to scars


179 people have
tackled this problem!

Tell us your thoughts

Did you find what you were looking for?


Add a comment

A problem shared is a problem halved: help others by sharing your frustrations or successes at tackling your health problem.

We have noticed that many of your queries are actually answered on the website, so please read carefully before submitting a comment. As all comments are moderated, there will be a delay before your comment appears. Please note that we cannot respond to individual requests for feedback.

Discussion content reflects the view of individual participants only. Health Press Limited bear no responsibility for accuracy of participant comments and will bear no legal liability for discussion results. Comments will be moderated before posting and Health Press Limited reserves the right to delete any material. See About our site for our moderation policy


Comments on this article

Posted by mark on 06/09/2014 at 07:26

I have a scar on my it is most embarrassingI am Blackmy skin is brown but the scar is blackI tried everything vitamin E, aloe vera cream,silicone patches everything,it still won't go away,what do I do

Posted by Ann on 31/08/2014 at 10:27

I found this site so useful.Thanks for working to keep it. I wish you to recommend to me a particular special silicone sheet(the one to wear daily for a year).My scars aren't so visible but too many and scattered on my legs. They make me feel so uncomfortable and embarrassed to wear shorts.Am not confident anymore that I had to try several products which now wrinkles the skin on my legs. Hope to receive a mail soon from you.

Posted by shiranjani basu on 19/08/2014 at 07:12

sir,can i use bio oil for my skin,,? i've some acne on my face.

Posted by cynthia on 17/08/2014 at 08:44

I have a scar with black n white patches on my leg which was gotten from hot water burns for more than 15 years and it is really affecting me because i can't wear shorts and it makes me act like an introvert. Please i need a very good cream or gel that can help me clear the pigmentation. Thanks

Posted by Optional on 16/03/2014 at 04:52

I have a deep scar on the lower part of my front leg, and is reall y embarrasing me.what can i do to improve it appearance,please help it's really killing me.

Posted by kiesha jane on 11/02/2014 at 05:32

i have 15 years of white scars on my legs...and im really shy to wear shorts because of it.what gel,medicine or treatment can erase this?please help me...thanks

Posted by teboho on 24/01/2014 at 12:42

I was involve in a car accident dat left me wit scars on my face nd its surgical scars so they are large scars nd itchy I really dnt like ma face...I'm using bio oil bt I dnt see any difference....I dnt knw wat 2 use nw

Posted by Robert on 22/01/2014 at 01:18

I have a 3 cm scar and dent on my head and I lost my hair recently it's became more visible. It does affect my confident and the social life because of it. I don't go out any more if I do everyone look at my scar and I feel embarrassed. Please help

Posted by Moune on 13/12/2013 at 03:00

I have got lot of cut scars on my face old one and some recently what do u recommend me to do because they are very embarrassing help me please

Posted by Bukky on 05/11/2013 at 09:42

Pls how can get any of this creams in Nigeria

Posted by S S sunny on 08/10/2013 at 07:57

sir,i am 20yr old. i had (acne and nail) scars on my face my skin type get oily so sir plz tell me what kind of cream should i use... help me?

Posted by nonyabidness on 23/09/2013 at 11:15

I have a scare on my knee and ankle it was from slipping on a wet sidewalk and I do not know how to heal it and your site helped none cause it is all about scars from surgery do you want more views more likes then put a scar the is relevant to kids I am very disappointed in this website very disappointed

Posted by Mbali on 30/08/2013 at 06:24

Am a i5 year gal .ihave got alot of scares around my body and they so embarassing so what advice from you guys.idn't want any cream ,tretment or anythng but just need easythng wn't cost anything!

Posted by chibless on 23/08/2013 at 12:14

my own scars are on my legs, some are from broken bottles, cutlass and big boils, they have stayed more than eight years and they are still there i feel so ashamed to wear shorts but i like shorts wat do i do?

Posted by fiona on 05/07/2013 at 12:17

hi, i have had dark unattractive scars since childhood it is very embarrassing. i have to go to high school in 4 weeks and i'm too afraid since i will teased and mocked at.so please please help!!!!!!!

Posted by Optional on 17/06/2013 at 01:53

I have lots of scars since I was a litle gir, scars that I don't even remember what they are from. Also I have lots more since 2005 because I had a skin condition when I was pregnant (pregnancy pox) What can I use to get rid of them?

Posted by love on 07/06/2013 at 02:39

Am tired of covering my legs all the time due to numerous scars, is there any thing i can wear to cover the scars on my legs and it will look natural.

Posted by Komal on 13/05/2013 at 06:51

I m 21 yrs nd i have red scar on ma left chick i have gone to doctor and he prescribed to use cleanser nd silk lotion to mix up with desowen nd put at night nd evry mrng but i dnt see any results what shuld i do plz help

Posted by Optional on 16/04/2013 at 08:08

I had a fatal accident on 29th of july 2012,wich resulted 2 a deep injury on left face,inwich it was sticht by a doctor D̶̲̥̅̊A̶̲̥̅τ̲̅ resulted 2 a scar on my face.pls sir/ma wat kind of cream shuld i use.

Posted by Anna on 11/04/2013 at 04:31

I had leg surgery when I was 8 and I'm 13 now and my scars on my thighs r still here and I'm embarrassed to wear shorts shorts , mid thigh shorts. How can I make this go away? I want to be able to wear a swim suit without my scars not being here

Posted by Lola on 19/03/2013 at 12:35

Hi, I have a scar my left calf 11X17 inches due to radiation burn after I had a sarcome removed 3 years ago. Thanks God, I'm cancer free, but the skin is thight and sometimes develops lynphoedema en my ankle. I used Kelocote, worked well, but very expensive to buy it out of pocket, I'm wondering if there's anything similar with prescrition....

Posted by gillian porter on 13/03/2013 at 03:49

i got folicilitos in october 2012i dont even shave my legs had pennecillian and fusebet cream now i have lots of scars left fr am really upset because before this i have had nothing like this i just saw a dermotoligist and she said i will get an biopsy then think aboutleg camaflouge

Posted by Optional on 01/02/2013 at 12:34

i have a new 7days old deep chicken pox scar on my forehead and it is 7pcs. icepeak holes, i really worried about this and i want to get this as soon as possible, please help i really concern about my apprearance.

Posted by ultimate on 19/01/2013 at 11:14

it worked bt need more tips

Posted by Optional on 24/12/2012 at 09:29

got old boil scars i can't even wear shorts what should i do?

Posted by no name on 30/11/2012 at 10:17

i'm got lots of scars on my legs i'm just sick of it and i want to know how to get rid of it by naturally by something that you got at home like lemon or honey, i doesn't know if it really work on legs scars ?

Posted by Optional on 16/11/2012 at 11:43

I am suffering from acne & trying a lot of natural remedies,gels etc. But one pimple goes away &i have two new ones what should i do its been almost four years i am feeling frustrated & helpless

Posted by mummabear6 on 09/11/2012 at 04:50

Hi, i'm an asian and i have a lot of scars or dark blemishes on my legs since i was a kid. i have a low self steem because of this. i have tried different lotions/creams/oils with no good results. i tried to accept my body the way it is, but sometimes i cant help to wonder if theres anything out there that can remove it. will undergoing laser treatment or dermabrassion help? i never go out for a swim in bathers nor wear shorts if theres other people around. any idea is much appreciated... thnx

Posted by goitse man on 07/11/2012 at 02:15

i"ve got embarrassing scars on my both legs and im shy to wear shots

Posted by sel on 06/10/2012 at 04:29

i have been struggling for such a long time and felt so embarrassing abt the scars on my legs since i was 9yrs old,,,,i cried whenever i see them,, could u pls, help me with my problem,,and also i tried so many creams but so far nothing change,,, thank u,,

Posted by trish mae on 01/05/2012 at 08:09

I have a lot of scar on both legs,is very embarrassing becuase i cant wear skirt or any short dress that exposes my legs-it is my scars when i was 5 years old..

Posted by Optional on 18/03/2012 at 07:08

I've had psoriasis scars for over 10 yrs I was wondering if there is anything I can do 2 remove them

Posted by tashana on 15/01/2012 at 07:24

i have a lot of scars on y skin and i want to get rid of them i just want to know a cream that can get them off please help me

Posted by Cynthia on 10/01/2012 at 02:12

I have a scar on both legs,is very ambarrassing becuase i cant wear skirt or any thing that exposes my legs

Posted by no confidence on 14/12/2011 at 07:46

Is there any way to get rid of 14yr old scars? I have alot of scars on my legs, due to itchy bits, which had become infected because i was them scratching all the time. This causes me to have low self esteem as i will not wear shorts in public or around my family due to the sight of my legs. Embarrasing!

Posted by loza on 06/12/2011 at 08:09

anything that i can use to reduce and repair stretch marks i.ve been using bio-oli for 4 years it helps me by making thm more lighter like my skin so i want something that will repair them.

Posted by Optional on 23/11/2011 at 12:26

hey I am 16 years old and when i was a baby i was having a hard time walking, so i had many injections on my upper thighs well my butt cheeks , those injections went wrong so now i have deep scars on my butt, this is very embarrassing because i cant wear certain jeans and i cant wear cute swim suits like my friends :(

Posted by vinita on 17/11/2011 at 11:23

My accident was 4 months ago. And I'm going to use Indisil Silikone Gayle acceptance. I want to know that Gail will help to lighten the marks m...

Posted by Blessedvessel on 12/11/2011 at 03:53

I am african and I dropped my curlers on my face but thankfully it was not on there long enough to cause 2nd or 3rd degree burns, but with my fair skin it is apparent and about the size of a nickel. I have used antibiotic with pain relieg cream from cvs, and I am now using pure aloe gel. I cant say if the gel is working just yet but it should according to reviews iv reaf this is day 3 for me so I will commeny back if it changes. Hope it helps.

Posted by Tracey on 11/11/2011 at 08:49

i have a scar on both side of face as a result cream reaction.what can i do to clear it off my face.

Posted by gemma on 02/11/2011 at 09:33

where do i buy a good camaflage make up

Posted by Optional on 26/09/2011 at 04:09

I have terrible scars on my body please hel. I have tried all sorts of medicines maybe i haven't found the right one,need your advise

Posted by Sajan on 23/08/2011 at 07:03

Sir my face so bad b'coz my face hv many scar sir can u gv me any advice

Posted by Optional on 23/08/2011 at 03:45

hi, i'm glad to hear that you can remove the scar on face. can you give me some suggestion about it?on my face, there is a scar for many years.Thanks in advance!

Posted by Optional on 25/06/2011 at 11:14

Hi,been searching the internet all night looking for a camouflage make-up to hide deep scarring. I have just turned 21 and used to self harm when i was younger.I havn't done this in four years or so but is always something that i am really ashamed of. It has completely knocked my confidence as i can never wear short sleeve tops or nice dresses. Starting my dream job next week and am really excited but the uniform is a short sleeved tunic. Also going on my first holiday with my boyfriend this year so there will be no hiding under baggy jumpers in 30 degree heat.If anybody has any suggestions for creams of body make up i would really appriciate it! thanks

Posted by Optional on 01/04/2011 at 11:08

the scars are on my legs and my elbow.since childhood, it really embarrassing because of this some avoid talking to me while on short skirt.am dark slightly toned skin cant just use any thing.pls advise on the best cream.cant even have a boyfriend yet cause it will make uncomfortable with him.

Posted by Optional on 24/03/2011 at 01:49

I have a scar on my face & embarasing how can I improve it So dat it wont we visible

Posted by Aubrey on 14/03/2011 at 07:55

I was stabed with a botle on the neck nd was stitched now the scar is makin me loose my confidence how do i treat it

Posted by Optional on 18/02/2011 at 04:34

Try The Dermaroller Treatment its fanastic the results are brill.

Posted by embarrassed on 05/02/2011 at 11:01

i've had eczema for almost all my life, and i'm growing up now, i'm meeting new people, and my scars on my arms and legs are making me feel insecure. it's hard and embarrassing when people ask me why there are so many scars on my body. i've tried oils like 'bio oil'. but it doesn't seem to work. :( help me please!

Posted by Alia on 20/11/2010 at 06:34

I have a really bad scar left over from a shoulder surgery and it used to really bother me until my friend introduced me to a product called Dermablend. She used it to cover her tattoos but it works great on my scar! I found the best deal on this website - www.tat2x.com - but I think you can also get it at Macys (although overly $$$) Best to everyone here!

Posted by Optional on 22/10/2010 at 06:43

hi i have small old scars on face how to remove it .please suggest me some oils or cream which is available in my place plz help me

Posted by melanie on 15/10/2010 at 11:08

hi i had a c section scar which was red and raised i used camma hydroxy cream then i would put straight tea tree oil on which really dried it out then i would lightly file with a wood emry nail file and now my scar is completly flat and no redness at all ....

Posted by Optional on 11/10/2010 at 11:05

How to treat over 20yrs two big scars on my left leg. I really need help cos i can't wear short dresses.

Posted by sam on 26/09/2010 at 01:44

im 30y ,ihave very sensative oily skin ,still have scars from the acne i use to have and in between i develop pimple which leave scar too , i thought after certain age we dont get pimple ,what advise u will give me to get fresh lok skin all one color no scar or discoloration this my dream ,to go out without make up and feel comfortable with my face .sam

Posted by Optional on 14/09/2010 at 10:46

i had bad acne scars on my neck and arms and my friend recommended newgel+ as she had used it after breast surgery. it has been amazing and really reasonable. app they have just launched a cream as well. i bought the dots from www.newgel.co.uk and was worth every penny. they do sheets & shapes as well as i've just recommended to my friend who had a c-section

Posted by AL on 06/09/2010 at 02:45

To the person with the scar on the nose caused by surgery, I also have a scar on the nose which is now 7 years old. I also have one between my nose tip and top lip which actually breaks up my lip line and being female, has caused so much distress. There is now cure to eradicate and trust me I have sought plastic surgery county wide. The only consolation is that 'in time' it will fade to white but meanwhile, the silicone gel plasters are helpful (get them prescribed as they are expensive)but you must wear them 24/7 if you can. Unfortunately they do not stay on the nose terribly well so bear with it.Also buy AqyaOleum from a Health shop which will help fading. I also use VEIL cover cream but make sure you get the right cover. Your GP can order this for you as it is quite expensive but you can order over the internet and get a mini sample pack of 20 colours to try first for £6.00 Other than that it is time. I have just gained a new scar (2weeks ago) on my forhead which is nasty and having to go through it all again (roll on another rew years before it fades) Good luck.

Posted by Optional on 23/08/2010 at 10:30

hi, I have a bad scar on my nose caused by surgery. I don't know how to remove this scar.

Posted by ANTHONY on 21/08/2010 at 07:57

HI ALL I HAVE SMALL SCAR ON MY CHIN WHICH HAS LEFT ME FEELING REALLY DOWN I HAVE HAD TO LASER TREATMENTS BUT DONT NO WEATHER ITS WORKING OR NOT CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME ADVICE ???

Posted by Optional on 07/07/2010 at 02:52

i have a bad scar all over my body i would love to were a dres

Posted by Optional on 23/06/2010 at 06:50

where can i buy camouflage cream and how much is it? do you have a branch store here in the philippines? Please i need your reply... i am really worried about my old scar...

Posted by Optional on 21/06/2010 at 01:30

Hi, I use to self harm and have around 12 deep scars on my left arm. The last time I self harmed was around six years ago. The scars have faded but I am getting married in September and looking for someway in disguising these marks. Any suggestions are welcomed? Thank you

Posted by Optional on 27/04/2010 at 10:23

Hi I have two rather large and quite deep chicken pox scars on my forehead which have been there since i was about 14 years of age. I would love to get some treatment of some sort to try and reduce the (what I would call) enormity of them. Any suggestions???

Posted by scars in the face on 12/03/2010 at 10:50

I want to get rid of all the scars found on my face after a severe accident

Posted by P on 15/12/2009 at 08:55

18 months ago I had a approx 5mm split on the soft tissue just below head of my penis. During in unprotected sex it splits, even after abstaining for 3 months. I had an operation to remove scar tissue but it has made it worse and it split again in 2 places 1st time I had sex. The wound has healed again, I now feel that management of the scar is my priority rather than further surgery. I fear I need to leave it for a very long period. I have met a new partner and I'm very keen to have a normal relationship with her but this problem is likely to stop me unless I can get it sorted quickly. Do you have suggestions for dealing with and strengthening the scar tissue? Appearance is not important, withstanding friction is key. Thank you.

Posted by Anonymous on 28/11/2009 at 06:44

My friend self-harmed at 12 years old, now she has grown up she is embarrassed about the scarring. Is there any other treatment you could suggest other than surgery (expensive) or general treatments like moisturising? She is really self-cautious and will not wear sleeve-less tops, knocking her self-esteem as an 18 year old.

Posted by m.wright on 13/11/2009 at 11:55

FOR SCARRING USE THE COMPANY JOBSKIN AS THEY HAVE VERY COMPETATIVE RATES FOR SILICONE GELS ALSO THEY ARE VERY AFFECTIVE IN REDUCING SCARRING

Advertisements

Scars

Related articles

embarrassing problems
View what people have said about scars

embarrassingproblems.com

Fascinating facts

We tend to scar worst on the shoulder and chest

We scar least inside the mouth

Adolescents and young adults tend to scar worse than the elderly

In northern countries, 80 million surgical operations are carried out each year, and almost all will result in some scarring. In addition, there are about 4 million burn scars a year

If they are injured, lower vertebrates (such as salamanders) and invertebrates can grow new skin tissue without any scarring. Mammals cannot do this

Source: British Medical Journal 2003;326:88â

embarrassing problems

Latest updates

Dr Phil's latest video
19th December 2014

I wish I'd asked ...;
11th November 2014

Erection problems;
23rd October 2014

Ejaculation problems;
23rd October 2014

Cystitis in women;
15th October 2014

Cystitis in men;
15th October 2014

embarrassing problems