- Scars - The Good the Bad the Ugly, and the Beautiful?
Scars - The Good the Bad the Ugly, and the Beautiful?
Scars: The Good the Bad the Ugly... and the Beautiful?
The warlike Maori of New Zealand have a long history of scarifying their faces. They use knives to cut their faces, and then rub ash into the wounds. Tattooed Maori faces terrify their enemies, and attract the local women.
In Papua New Guinea, a standard origin story tells the tale of the Crocodile God, who created mankind. In honor of the Crocodile, young men initiated into manhood have bamboo slivers sliced into their chests, backs and buttocks. A ceremonial ancestral crocodile "swallows" the initiates, and the scars represent his teeth marks.
In Germany and Austria, dueling scars were a mark of honor. University Men would mark their social class and status by fighting duels in which they intentionally allowed themselves to be scarred.
Scarification in Modern America
As the popularity of tattoos skyrocketed, so did modern scarification practices. "Scarification artists" create artistic designs on the young and the hip. Although professional scarification may be no more painful than getting a tattoo, scar aficionados see it as being more "intense". "Chicks dig scars," trumpets one scarification ad, suggesting that the raised keloid scar is somehow sexy. And, of course, pop culture icon Harry Potter is recognizable by the lightening-bolt scar on his forehead.
Scars are Ugly? How about Stretch Marks?
Despite the growing popularity of body art, most Americans would prefer to go through life unscarred. In fact, many of those who have scars would like to get rid of them. New research suggests that the appearance of many scars can be dramatically reduced with safe, natural treatments.
What are Scars?
A scar is the pale pink, brown, or silvery patch of skin that grows in the place where you once had a cut, scrape, or sore. When skin is burned, cut, scraped, or otherwise injured, special cells called fibroblasts produce a substance called collagen to fill and close the wound. Collagen is a tough, fiber-like protein that constitutes scar tissue, as well as the scarring from stretch marks.
There are several varieties of scars:
Keloid scars: These scars are the result of an overly aggressive healing process. These scars extend beyond the original injury. Over time, a keloid scar may affect mobility. Possible treatments include surgical removal, or injections with steroids. Smaller keloids can be treated using cryotherapy (freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen). You can also prevent keloid formation by using pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone when you sustain an injury. Keloid scars most often occur in people with darker skin, which is one reason that scarification is common in the tropics.
Contracture scars: If your skin has been burned, you may have a contracture scar, which causes tightening of skin that can impair your ability to move; additionally, this type of scar may go deeper to affect muscles and nerves.
Hypertrophic scars: Raised and red scars that are similar to keloids, but do not breach the boundaries of the injury site. Possible treatments can include injections of steroids to reduce inflammation.
Stretch marks: Stretch marks are small, depressed streaks in the skin caused by tiny tears in the elastic supportive tissue just underneath the epidermis. They start out pink, reddish brown, or very dark brown, depending on the color of your skin, and later fade, though never totally disappear. Commonly associated with pregnancy, stretch marks also occur on rapidly growing adolescents, on those who gain weight, and on weight lifters.
Can Scars and Stretch Marks be Eliminated?
There are dozens of scar treatments - and none of them works perfectly. The standard medical treatments include:
- Steroid injections
- Surgery (which often makes the scar worse)
- Radiotherapy (notorious for its side effects)
- Pressure garments (used for burn victims)
These treatments can offer some relief, but they are invasive and sometimes dangerous.
Nature's Solution to Scarring
Fortunately, there's good news about safe, natural, and alternative therapies for scars. According to Dr. Sundeep Gill, a pharmacist and product formulator, "New research suggests that natural, topical treatments can help prevent scar formation and can reduce the appearance of existing scars."
The natural substances that appear effective include:
- Onion Extract -- This anti-inflammatory herb inhibits the over-production of collagen in a scar. In one study, a 10% onion extract cream was applied to the scars of thoracic surgery patients. 90% of the onion extract group had "good" results at scar reduction - compared to just 40% of the placebo group.
- Lysine - This amino acid helps build healthy tissue.
- Vitamin E - This powerful anti-oxidant nourishes the skin.
- Allontoin - Clinical studies show that it helped prevent and reduce scarring during tattoo removals.
"Scar Reducer Intensive Herbal + Nutrient Cream from Quantum Health is a great formula. This formula is designed to help smooth and reduce the appearance of scars," said Quantum Founder, David Shaw.
"Serious keloid and hypertrophic scars cannot be eliminated," said Dr. Gill. "Surgery won't do it - neither will steroids, or radiotherapy. But with proper care, their appearance can be improved, especially if people apply the new, natural treatments as soon as possible after the injury occurs."