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What Is a Scar?

A scar is the pale pink, brown, or silvery patch of new skin that grows in the place where you once had a cut, scrape, or sore. A scar is your skin's way of repairing itself after an injury.

Look at your skin. You probably have one or two scars already. Most people do. Why? Because a lot of things leave behind scars — from falls to surgeries.

How Do Scars Happen?

No matter what caused your scar, here's how your skin repaired the open wound. The skin made a bunch of collagen (say: KAHL-uh-jen) — tough, white protein fibers that act like bridges — to reconnect the broken tissue. As the body did its healing work, a dry, temporary crust formed over the wound. This crust is called a scab.

The scab's job is to protect the wound as the damaged skin heals underneath. Eventually, a scab dries up and falls off on its own, leaving behind the repaired skin and, often, a scar. Not every cut or scrape can make a scar, though many do.

How Do I Prevent a Scar?

Of course, the best way to prevent scars is to prevent wounds! You can reduce your chances of getting hurt by wearing kneepads, helmets, and other protective gear when you play sports or ride your bike.

But even with protective gear, a person can still get hurt once in a while. If this happens, you can help prevent or reduce scarring. Help your skin heal itself by treating it well during the healing process.

How do you do that? Be sure to:

  • Keep the wound covered with a bandage to keep out dirt and germs and help it from drying out.
  • Don’t pick at the scab because it tears at the collagen and could get germs into the wound.
  • Protect the cut from the sun. Use sunscreen or a hat or other clothing. The new skin will be more sensitive to the sun until it’s fully healed.

So Long, Scars!

Some scars fade over time. If yours doesn't and it bothers you, treatments can make a scar less noticeable, such as skin-smoothing medicated creams, waterproof makeup, or even minor surgery. Talk to your parent and doctor to find out if any of these treatments would be right for you.

Letting a trusted adult know how you feel about a scar can help you feel a lot better about it.

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: Mar 8, 2022

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