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Abnormal Scarring

author image Sarah Thompson
Sarah Thompson has been a writer since 2006. She has contributed to Ohio-based publications such as "CityScene" and "Dublin Life" magazines, as well as Columbus' top alternative weekly, "The Other Paper." Thompson has also written for several online outlets, including Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, sexuality studies and visual communication design from Ohio State University.
Abnormal Scarring
Keloid scar on a man's knees Photo Credit russaquarius/iStock/Getty Images

Scars are the result of your body healing itself from an injury- or surgery-based wound, according to MayoClinic.com. Permanent scars are commonly seen after burns, cuts and sores. They are formed when skin cells and tissues, called fibroblasts, multiply to repair the damaged cells. Scars often take on a pink coloration and shine, caused by the use of collagen in the wound-repairing process. However, some scars take on a different appearance. These scars are considered abnormal and might require more care to minimize their appearance.

Types of Abnormal Scarring

Abnormal scars come in two forms. One type is keloid scars, which occur in 10 percent of people, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology site. These scars occur when the fibroblasts don’t stop multiplying after the wound has healed. The result is a large lump of scar tissue that might be red or otherwise hyper-pigmented, itchy and painful. Removal of this scar usually causes more tissue to form, thus surgery might not be the best option. The second type of abnormal scarring is hypertrophic stars, which are much more common than keloid scars and usually stay more localized to the wound than keloid scars. These look similar to a keloid scar but do not have the same amount of buildup of scar tissue and can heal themselves, allowing for a decrease in redness. However, they will not disappear.

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Quick Solutions

Though you cannot cover up the raised tissue, you might be able to cover up the redness with over-the-counter foundations and make-ups. This might help with abnormal scars that are in conspicuous places, such as earlobes and the face. You can also try to minimize the natural appearance of the scar by protecting it from sunburn, which can enhance or cause a scar’s red tint, according to MayoClinic.com

Procedural Treatments

Procedural treatments include once-monthly cortisone injections into the scar. This will help reduce the appearance and help flatten the scar in three to six months. Though hypertrophic scars might respond completely to that treatment, keloid scars might not or might reoccur after treatment. Side effects include pain and possible infection. Another procedure is called dermabrasion, in which the layers of skin are sanded away, leaving new skin to emerge. This new skin may be less noticeable and more even. However, it does not remove scars completely, with results lasting around 10 years. Dermabrasion does have side effects, including redness, swelling, soreness and possible infection, according to Agingskin.net.

Surgical Treatment

For severe cases, surgery is an option. Surgery is typical for keloid scars more so than hypertrophic because keloid scars are typically more pronounced and more difficult to treat. One treatment is laser scar revision, in which high-energy light is directed at the scar to flatten it and limit redness, according to the Discovery Health website. However, this procedure will only reduce size and appearance and cannot eradicate the scar completely. It also might produce side effects, such as pinkness of the skin and mild discomfort.


You can help prevent keloid scars and hypertrophic scars by using pressure via dressings, silicone pads or paper tape over the wound for 23 to 24 hours each day. Do this after the wound has healed but before a scar has formed, which is usually a month. If you wait too long for this preventative method and an abnormal scar forms, you might not have any further options available for satisfactory treatment. This is true especially for keloid scars because they are more difficult to treat than hypertrophic ones. In addition, performing these preventative measures cannot guarantee prevention, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.


A variety of treatments are available to reduce the appearance of abnormal scarring, each of which range in how invasive they are, their side effects and their results. In addition, your scar will vary in size, shape and severity. Consult your physician to learn more about the various types of treatment for your abnormal scar and to decide what treatment is best for you.

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