When you get injured, your body produces collagen, a protein that strengthens your skin and gives it structure. This is how scars form as a way of the skin repairing itself. However, sometimes the healing process doesn’t really go as expected and hypertrophic scars form.
This article will explore what hypertrophic scars are, how they come about, and what you can do to get rid of them.
What are Hypertrophic Scars?
Hypertrophic scars are thickened and raised scars that appear where injuries were. They are usually pink or red in color. They form from injuries such as burns, cuts, piercings, or sometimes acne. They can appear anywhere on the body but are common on ear and nose cartilage piercings, chest, shoulders, and upper back.
Hypertrophic scars are mostly harmless but some may be painful or itchy but this goes away as the skin heals. However, they should not be a cause for medical concern; they are more of a cosmetic one. The natural disappearance of hypertrophic scars may take years but it can be hastened with treatment.
Hypertrophic scars occur when myofibroblasts, body cells that produce collagen to repair skin, overproduce it. Too much collagen may be produced when the injury is under a lot of tension, is infected, inflamed, or is not stitched.
Hypertrophic Scar on Piercing – How to Treat
When you get a piercing, it’s an injury just like any other that will heal over time. In some cases, a bump may develop as the piercing heals and this is a good example of a hypertrophic scar. Hypertrophic scars commonly form on ear and nose cartilage piercings because compared to other tissues; the cartilage doesn’t heal that easily. They usually appear 4-8 weeks after getting a new piercing and may take 6 months to grow before it starts shrinking and disappearing, which may take years.
A hypertrophic scar on a piercing occurs either because of physical trauma or chemical irritation. Physical trauma is when the piercing gets inflamed, infected, or it’s under a lot of tension. This makes the skin produce a lot of collagen to heal the area. Physical trauma may happen because you keep touching the piercing before it’s healed or the piercing is an area of the body more prone to inflammation, tension, and infection like joints. Chemical irritation, on the other hand, is when the piercing is irritated by personal care products like dyes, makeup, scrubs, or sprays.
Treatment for hypertrophic scars should be done after the piercing has healed to avoid making it worse. There are various natural home remedies you can use to treat hypertrophic scars on piercings and they include:
H-Scars Formula is a purely natural and gentle solution that reduces all sorts of scars including hypertrophic scars on piercings. It’s made with approved homeopathic ingredients and essential oils that boost cell regeneration and reduce the appearance of scars.
Saline or Salt Soak
Soaking a wound in warm water with salt speeds up the healing process because it improves blood circulation to the area. To prepare a salt soak, put a 1/4 teaspoon of salt without iodine into 8 ounces of warm water. Then, use a paper towel to soak up the mixture and dab it on the piercing for 5-10 minutes. Repeat this twice every day.
Applying pressure on a hypertrophic scar helps in breaking down its tissue. You can do this with the help of pressure discs that are placed between the jewelry and the pierced flesh, tapes, or bandages. You can also massage the scar tissue while applying pressure.
Chamomile promotes the repair of the skin and restores it to its original healthy appearance. To use this remedy, dip a chamomile tea bag in warm water for 3-5 minutes. Take a clean cloth or paper towel and soak it in the water and apply it to the piercing for 5-10 minutes.
Applying silicone gel on a piercing will help to soften and flatten the hypertrophic scar. It can be purchased over-the-counter in form of patches or sheets. Apply it to the piercing twice a day.
Poor quality jewelry can irritate the skin and cause scarring. If you feel irritated, get better quality jewelry and have your piercer change them for you if the piercing is still healing.
Hypertrophic Scars vs Keloid Scars: What’s the Difference?
Hypertrophic scars are very similar to keloid scars and telling them apart may be difficult. They both occur when scar tissue forms in excess. However, keloid scars grow beyond the injury and spread to the surrounding skin while hypertrophic scars are raised outgrowths above the injury.
Keloids also tend to be more raised than hypertrophic scars and can grow to more than 4 millimeters above the skin. Hypertrophic scars stop growing when the wound heals but keloids continue to grow even after your skin heals; that’s why they get so large.
Keloid scars are not common and affect about 10% of the population but hypertrophic scars are more common. The chance of developing hypertrophic scars after burns is 33%-91% and that figure goes to 39%-68% after surgical procedures.
How to Get Rid of Hypertrophic Scars
Hypertrophic fade away with time but the process can be helped along with treatment. There are several ways of getting rid of hypertrophic scars, both medical and home treatments:
In this treatment, lasers are used to burn and flatten the raised scars. They also lighten the color of the pink and red pigments of the scars. Laser therapy is best used on new scars rather than older ones.
This is one of the most used treatment methods on hypertrophic scars and it involves the injection of steroids into the scar to help in softening and flattening it. It is done after 6 weeks, however, not for too long because it weakens healthy tissues around the scar.
A doctor freezes a hypertrophic scar using liquid nitrogen to flatten it. Cryotherapy is one of the safest and most effective treatments for scars.
Here, the surgeon cuts off a hypertrophic scar in an effort to help it re-heal without the factors that caused it in the first place like tension.
Creams and Oils
Some creams and oils may be used to relieve the pain and itching of hypertrophic scars and reduce their appearance. These include onion extract cream, bleomycin, bio-oil, and heparin gel.
Pressure and Massage
Applying pressure and massaging the scar area is the cheapest method and it helps to weaken the scar tissue. When done consistently, it eventually breaks down and the scar disappears. You can apply pressure using bandages and tapes.
Silicone products like gels, sheets, foams, and sprays can be bought over-the-counter to be used on hypertrophic scars. Silicone sheets are worn over the scar tissue for 12-24 hours every day for 2-3 months to flatten it. The gel, foam, and spray are applied to the scar thrice a day to soften it so that it breaks off.
Potatoes are natural bleaching agents for the skin. You can cut them into slices and place or rub them over the hypertrophic scars for about 20 minutes. You can then let it air-dry for 10 minutes and rinse off with cool water. Do this once every day until you see positive results.
Lemons contain acids that have anti-inflammatory properties so they will help with the itching and pain of the scars. They also have citric acid that promotes cell regeneration and so reduce the appearance of scars. To use them, squeeze the juice out of the lemons and apply it to the hypertrophic scar. Let it stay for 10 minutes and rinse with cool water. Do this every day until the scar fades.
H-Scars Formula, as mentioned before, can be used on hypertrophic scars. It can also be used on keloid scars, facial scars, and acne scars. It promotes skin cell regeneration and in the process, scars fade away. This makes it a good candidate for both new and old scars and you don’t have to worry about harmful side-effects because it’s made with safe and natural ingredients.