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Burns and scars

We share critical information about burn scars.

A hand with a burn scar towards the wrist
A burn scar happens when a burn has damaged your skin tissue, turning it into scar tissue.

When a burn only impacts the outer layers of your skin, the scar tissue fades over time as the burn marks heal. When the deeper layers of your skin are damaged by a burn, it can cause more permanent scarring, known as a burn scar.

Burn scarring can look raised, shiny, leathery, or generally irregular in its appearance, which can affect a person's confidence. 

There are three main types of burn scars, which are:

First-degree burn scars: first-degree burns only affect the top layer of your skin. If you have a first-degree burn, your skin will likely be red and tender to touch. However, you won't experience any swelling or blisters. First-degree burns occur when you have sunburn. Scarring does not usually occur with a first-degree burn, because it does not penetrate that far into your skin.

Second-degree burn scars: these cause slightly deeper damage. You will likely have burst blisters, but the deeper layers of your skin will not be affected. The burnt area may excrete clear fluid. Second-degree burn scarring can form, but will likely clear after the healing process is complete.

Third-degree burn scars: these are more serious and require immediate medical attention. With third-degree burns, your burn may be white or blackened, or feel hard to touch. These burns can take months or years to heal. They are likely to leave a long-lasting scar. 

Scars caused by second and third-degree burns are generally categorised by appearance:

  • Hypertrophic scars: these may appear red or purple and raised above your skin. They may also feel warm and itchy.
  • Contracture scars: they make your skin, muscles, and tendons tighter, restricting your usual skin movement.
  • Keloid scars: these are raised scars that may form a shiny, hairless bump.

There are several options available to treat burn scars. These include:

Scar removal surgery

Also known as revision surgery, this procedure is performed to correct and reconstruct a scar in order to improve its condition and movement. Scar removal generally improves the appearance of the scar, removes tightness and improves the robustness of skin tissue.

Silicone treatment

Silicone treatments for scars in the forms of gels or sheets that are placed on top of scars have been shown to improve scarring when used 24 hours a day for at least 2 months.

Burn scar cream

According to the NHS, massaging a moisturiser like E45 into the scar will stop it becoming dry and help make it supple.

You should also apply sunscreen to your scar as it may be particularly sensitive to the sun.

You should discuss burn scar cream and its effectiveness with your Consultant. They might be able to help you choose the right moisturiser cream for your needs.

If you're hoping to seek treatment for your burn scars, you're in the right place.

We have a trusted team of Consultant plastic and orthopaedic surgeons who specialise in burn scars treatment, including scar removal surgery.

You can book a consultation with your chosen Consultant online, or call us for more advice on 0141 300 5009.

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