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CHRONICLES ON HEALTH

The Origins of a Scar

"What causes scars to form?"
By: Vanessa ValenzuelaThe Origins of a Scar

Scars can make you feel “ugly.” Whether you got them from a clumsy fall, from surgery, or from an acne breakout back in high school, scars can ruin the appearance of even the smoothest, fairest skin. Why do we develop scars?

A scar happens when your skin has a gash or cut and your body attempts to close it down or “heal” it. As a natural reaction, the body tries to do this as fast as possible by creating a thick layer of “collagen” (i.e. a type of fibrous protein) at the site of the injury. This collagen oftentimes appears red or white in color, and may sometimes look raised compared to the surrounding skin. This is typically how a scar develops.

Though it looks unpleasant, scarring is actually an important part of the healing process. It occurs after an injury (like after a wound or cut) or after inflammation subsides and takes about a year or so to be completely healed. The most frustrating scars would be the ones from acne and eczema outbreaks, because healing is delayed by recurring inflammation.

The appearance of scars depends on several factors: the part of the body that was affected, the size and depth of the cut, and the person’s age. Genetics may also play a part in whether one can develop more visible scars than others.

Since a scar is created in response to a cut or lesion, the quality of tissue is much more inferior than the original one that existed before the injury. Hair and sweat glands, for example, don’t grow on scar tissue.

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