The body heals itself in many ways, and one of the ways skin heals is by forming scars. You will find different kinds of scars formed by the body, and one of these is called a hypertrophic scar. Hypertrophic scars are often confused for Keloids because, like keloid scars, hypertrophied scars form with excess skin tissue. However, the difference between the two is that keloid scar tissue will continue to develop until it is larger than the original wound itself, while a hypertrophic scar will develop only within the confines of the unique injury. Both can be raised, swollen, and red, but Keloids will keep on growing and hypertrophied scars will actually decrease over time. Both types can recur, but it is more common for keloid scars to recur.
Hypertrophic scars are actually more common that keloid scars, and only humans develop hypertrophied scarring. Hypertrophic scars are composed of collagen (i.e. connective tissue), they are very thick, and are usually a different color than the skin around the scar. They can develop at any time, even months after the wound has completely healed. People of all ages, races, and skin tones can develop hypertrophic scars, but they do tend to build in areas where the skin is taut, or in areas that are movement- or pressure-dependent, like the upper back, lower face, front of the chest, and shoulders. If there is an increase in collagen, or a decrease in collagen deterioration, these scars can form. You can also be genetically prone to developing these kinds of scars. If a wound becomes infected or if the wound is oriented differently from the surrounding skin (meaning there is tension on the wound), a hypertrophic scar can form. Sometimes they are painful, they are usually raised and red, and they can be very itchy. Some patients even experience nerve damage and reduced sensation in the area of the hypertrophied scar.
If there is a history in your family of hypertrophic scar development, you are at an increased risk of developing these kinds of scars, and the chance that the scar will reform is increased. Fortunately, there are treatments available for hypertrophied scars. Massage of the new skin that has formed over the healed wound can break bands of collagen, and there are special preparations in the form of gels, creams, and ointments that contain compounds that, when applied to fresh scars can stop or reduce the formation of scar tissue. In addition, some people have experienced luck with using tea tree oil, natural oil that has long been used in treating skin blemishes, to reduce the appearance of hypertrophic scars.
Some patients have experienced luck with steroid injections to reduce the appearance of hypertrophic scars. Laser treatments are also available to reduce the appearance of scars, although they can be expensive, especially if your insurance does not cover the procedure. Laser treatments will lighten the color of the scar and can flatten and resurface the skin. It is considered one of the most effective scar treatments available. There is, however, still a chance that the scar will recur.
Anyone can develop abnormal scar tissue after an injury occurs. However, you do not have to live with the effects of the scar. There are treatments available that can reduce the appearance of your scar. Just remember that hypertrophic and keloid scars can recur, but you can continue to treat them even if they come back.