What Are Track Marks?

Track marks are scars and areas of discoloration along a vein that was damaged due to injecting drugs intravenously. Track marks are often noticeable along the forearms, where visible veins are present, although they can be found anywhere on the body that has been used as an injection site. Track marks can appear as puncture wounds or as discolored and scarred veins[1]. It is estimated that more than three-quarters of intravenous drug users will eventually develop scars, with more than half still displaying those scars even after more than five years of sobriety.

What Causes Track Marks?

Track marks are one of the first signs of intravenous drug use as it is the physical scarring that occurs after someone has intravenously abused drugs. It is common to see track marks on those individuals who are struggling with severe addiction because they are regularly injecting drugs which causes this scarring to occur. Bruises often accompany the injection sites. Since track marks take time to heal, individuals often feel ashamed of their appearance.

Dangers of Intravenous Drug Use

Among the numerous possible health repercussions of using a syringe to inject substances are infections, overdose, and cardiovascular disease.

Abscesses and Cutaneous Infections
Skin infections are extremely common intravenous drug abusers. Contaminants in substances combined with generally non-sterile equipment and poor hygiene increase the risk of a possible abscess or skin infection significantly.

Scarring and Needle Tracks
It is estimated that more than three-quarters of intravenous drug users eventually develop scars in a vascular distribution.

This is a condition characterized by inflammation of the interior lining of the heart and can occur from repeated intravenous drug use. If left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy heart valves and can lead to life-threatening complications.

Sharing needles or failing to properly sanitize them can lead to direct transmission of blood-related conditions, including hepatitis and HIV.

Overdose Risk
When injecting drugs directly into the body, the risk of overdose greatly increases. Abusers generally cannot accurately gauge how much of a substance they are injecting into their system because of the fast action and intensity of the resulting effects [2].

How to Get Rid of Track Marks

Allow open wounds to heal
Depending on how recent the track marks were acquired, you may have open wounds or scabs. Before you proceed to the next steps, you need to allow these wounds to heal. If you try to surpass the healing process, you risk the possibility of infection.

Exfoliate the area
In order to promote skin regeneration, you need to use a gentle exfoliator on a regular basis. You can buy one at the store or make one yourself. To make one at home, all you need is olive oil and sugar. Mix the ingredients together to make the exfoliant.

Use an ointment
Following exfoliation and throughout the process, it is important to use an ointment to help your wounds heal. Neosporin makes a good one that claims to help prevent scarring. In addition, these products often contain pain relievers and will help with any pain you may have.

Give it time
The process of getting rid of track marks is a tedious one. It takes time, dedication, and commitment to a regular routine. You won’t see results overnight, but the progress will show over time. Just remember to be patient.

Cover it up with makeup
If you need immediate results, you can always use makeup to cover the track marks. Understand that this result is only temporary, and you will still need to complete the steps listed above in order to get rid of them for good. Use body makeup to cover the marks and set it with powder. It should hold all day[3].

Help for Intravenous Drug Abuse

It’s important to remember that if you’re struggling with substance abuse, you are not alone. If you or someone you know might be using or abusing intravenous drugs, there is help available. Please contact Coastal Detox today at 877-978-3125 and let us help you on your journey to recovery.

[1] Pieper, B., Templin, T. N., Kirsner, R. S., & Birk, T. J. (2009). Impact of injection drug use on distribution and severity of chronic venous disorders. Wound repair and regeneration: official publication of the Wound Healing Society [and] the European Tissue Repair Society, 17(4), 485. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-475X.2009.00513.x

[2] Intravenous Drug Administration Can Lead to Serious Health Problems UCLA Health: https://www.uclahealth.org/hospitals/resnick/patient-care/partial-hospitalization-and-intensive-outpatient-programs/adult-acute-partial-hospitalization-program/dual-diagnosis-intensive-outpatient-program/news-and-resources/potential-complications-iv-drug-use#:~:text=Most%20drug%20addictions%20begin%20through,injection%20(IV%20drug%20use).

[3] How to Get Rid of Track Marks on the Arms Healthfully.com: https://healthfully.com/get-rid-track-marks-arms-4500039.html