Ideally, scarring after a car accident means that a person is getting better. However, burn injury scars often cause complications of their own.

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, a health care research organization, explains some of the problems that develop due to burn scars.

Itching

Burns that destroy the first two layers of skin or go even deeper often destroy the oil glands that keep the skin moist. As a result, scars may itch intensely. Itching may also occur due to nerve endings trapped in collagen.

Moisturizers often help, but doctors may also recommend customized pressure garments, antihistamines and pain medication to control the intense discomfort.

Contractures

Scars that cover joints can impair movement as the skin tightens and contracts. Contractures on legs may cause problems with walking, sitting or climbing stairs. Contractures on arms may cause issues with bathing, dressing, grooming and eating, as well as difficulty working with the hands.

Treatment for contractures may include the following:

  • Surgery and laser treatment
  • Custom pressure garments
  • Silicone gel sheets
  • Custom-made inserts
  • Physical therapy and stretching
  • Massage

Doctors often also prescribe topical medications, antibiotics and lotions.

Emotional trauma

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, burn scars can cause emotional problems as well as physical impairment. The appearance of scars, particularly if they are on the face, can cause a person to lose self-esteem and withdraw from social activities and the workplace. Isolation is common for burn victims with visible scars. The emotional and mental trauma may also involve grief, guilt, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Often, psychologists or psychiatrists are part of the treatment and recovery health care team that works with a burn victim to improve mental, emotional and social quality of life.

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