If you have a shiny, thick, discolored scar…

You have a keloid scar, which are often genetic and more commonly occur in skin with a darker pigment. Keloids can vary in color from pink to red to dark brown, they may be painful and itchy, and they usually occur on the chest, shoulders, upper back and lower neck. “They’re very mysterious, and the most challenging to manage, says Dr. Bekhor.

Treatment options

Steroid injections

Keloid scars can be reduced by a program of cortisol injections over time, and any redness treated with pulsed dye laser, but they may reactivate two or three years later.

Description: discolored scar

discolored scar

If you’ve got a red, lumpy scar…

You have a hypertrophic scar, which involves an excess of tissue. These are usually a temporary response to surgery, an injury or a burn. “Hypertrophic scars tend to heal spontaneously over 12 months, Dr. Bekhor says, “so we normally use gentle therapies. More aggressive treatment is reserved for scars that don’t settle down in this time - whether due to burst stitches, excess tension at the site or a less-than-optimal healing environment.

Treatment options

Steroid Injections

Micro-shots of cortisone solution along with a pressure dressing, such as silicone sheeting, are applied to soften the scar tissue and flatten it out.

Pulsed dye laser

Intensive bursts of laser light can accelerate the loss of redness.

Scar revision

If scars have healed badly, they might be able to be improved, says Dr. Steve Merten, clinical senior lecturer in cosmetic plastic surgery at Macquarie University Hospital. Sometimes the damaged tissue is cut out in order to create a clean, healthy scar.

Description: lumpy scar

Lumpy scar

Do over-the-counter treatments work?

No oil, cream, gel or dressing is going to make any class of scar vanish completely, says Dr. Bekhor, but as long as the treatment is gentle, they’re not going to do any harm.

“I think massaging scars helps,” adds Dr. Merten, “but it doesn’t make a lot of difference what you use. Indeed, research shows that vitamin E oil and Vaseline are equally effective.

The best method to help promote healing and minimize scarring is keeping the wound site clean, moist and covered. And studies show that silicone sheeting does the job — but you must keep using it for at least two months. “If you really want to manage a scar, you have to make an effort,” says Dr. Merten.

Scar management – Dos and Don’ts


·         Act quickly. Even a graze that isn’t treated and dressed properly can result in a nasty scar.

·         Avoid sun exposure

·         Wait 12 months before considering treatment. Most scars take that long to heal and fade. If a scar is still red, that usually means it’s too soon to do anything about it.

·         Get a referral from your GP to a properly trained medical specialist, whether you’re having a mole removed or you’re concerned about an existing scar.


·         Smoke. It reduces the amount of oxygen carried by the blood, which will hamper the healing process.


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