The skin is an organ that protects our bodies from infection. Throughout our lives, we have experiences that injure our skin, leaving behind a scar. The formation of scars depends on many factors, including:

  • How large the wound is.
  • The person’s age, sex, and ethnicity (nationality/heritage).
  • Genetic (inherited) factors.

There are four main types of scars. Various treatments can help reduce their size and appearance. Before you begin, however, remember this basic truth: scars will never completely disappear.

What are the four main types of scars?

  • Hypertrophic scars: These are red scars that rise above the skin. They do not spread beyond the spot where the injury occurred. Possible treatments include steroid injections and laser surgery.
  • Keloids: These scars jut out from the skin and spread beyond the spot where the injury occurred. They are caused by the overproduction of certain cells. Over time, keloids may affect mobility (ability to move). Possible treatments include surgery, laser surgery, radiation or steroid injections. Smaller keloids can be removed with cryotherapy (freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen). You can also prevent keloids by using pressure treatment, silicone gel. Keloids are more common in darker skin types, specifically people of African or Asian descent.
  • Contracture scars: These scars typically occur after the skin is burned. They cause tightening (contracting) of the skin that can reduce the ability to move. This type of scar can go into muscles and nerves.
  • Acne scars: Any type of acne can leave behind scars. There are many types of acne scars, and they can be shallow or quite deep. Treatment depends on the type of scars.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2016.


  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.
  • American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.

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