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Scars: Who gets and causes

Who gets scars?

Nearly everyone gets at least one scar.

You may have gotten a scar from a burn, cut, or scrape. Many people see a scar after having surgery.

A scar forms when your body heals an injury

When you injure your skin, a scar can form after the wound heals.

Boy sitting hurt on pavement after a bicycle accident

Some skin conditions can cause a scar. If you had chickenpox or severe acne, scars may have appeared as your skin cleared.

Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a rare skin disease, can cause scars. EB makes the skin extremely fragile, so it blisters easily. As the blisters heal, scars often appear. Another skin disease, hidradenitis suppurativa, can cause deep wounds in the skin. As these wounds heal, scars appear.

If a type of scar called a keloid runs in your family, you may develop these raised scars easily. Some people develop a keloid after having their ears pierced or getting a tattoo.

What causes a scar?

A scar forms on your skin when your body heals an injury. To get a scar, the wound has to go deep enough to injure the inner layers of your skin, the dermis.

When we injure the deeper layers of our skin, cells make collagen to repair the wound. Because your body makes this collagen quickly, it’s thicker and less flexible than the rest of your skin. The thicker, less flexible tissue is a scar.

Getty Images

Gold MH, McGuire M, et al. “Updated international clinical recommendations on scar management: Part 2—Algorithms for scar prevention and treatment.” Dermatol Surg. 2014;40(8):825-31.

Tziotzios C, Profyris C, et al. “Cutaneous scarring: Pathophysiology, molecular mechanisms, and scar reduction therapeutics Part II. Strategies to reduce scar formation after dermatologic procedures.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;66(1):13-24.