Tips to Prevent or Reduce Scarring

When you’re injured, whether it’s a mild injury such as a cut, or a serious injury such as road rash from a bike accident, it may lead to a scar.


What Causes Scarring?

When you’re injured, your body’s natural response is to repair damaged tissue, and then that process creates scar tissue. Scar tissue is a collection of cells as well as collagen that cover the injury site. Even parts of your body that are internal can develop scar tissue—one example is the heart muscle following a heart attack.

There are three steps of skin healing that occur, whether you have a burn, scrape, or cut. The first stage is hemostasis when the body sends platelets to the site of the injury that bind together and seal the wound to prevent too much blood loss. This is why a scab forms.

The next phase is inflammation when white blood cells go to the injury site to combat bacteria. During this time, you may notice heat, swelling, pain, and redness. This should all go away naturally unless you develop an infection.

The third stage is called proliferation, which is when your skin and vessels create new cells. There are different types of scars that can occur. One is a keloid, which is a raised, skin-colored area of scar tissue that’s common the chest, shoulders, and upper back. A hypertrophic scar is one of the most common types, and these scars eventually fade over time.

There’s something called a contracture scar that occurs following a burn injury. This type of scar may reduce mobility in the area affected. While you may not be able to completely avoid a scar following injury, there are some things you can do to lessen its appearance.

Reducing the Risk of a Scar

Proper wound care is important to reduce the risk of developing a scar.
Consider the following tips to care for your wound as it’s healing.

• If you need them, get stitches. If you have a deep cut or wound, or one that’s spread apart, you probably need stitches. It’s best to get stitches as soon as possible after the injury to reduce contamination with bacteria and germs, and before partial healing begins.

• When you have a wound, keep it moist. You can apply petroleum jelly and cover it with a non-stick bandage, which will both help speed-up healing and minimize the scarring that results from the wound.

• Massaging your wound daily with vitamin A may make the scar less visible.

• When your wound is healing, avoid the sun because the sun can increase discoloration. After your wound heals, always apply sunscreen.

• Don’t use things like hydrogen peroxide too often on a scar because it can slow down how long it takes it to heal, thereby increasing scarring.

• If you have stitches, don’t leave them in too long because that can impact the wound’s ability to heal properly.

• Be patient. The healing process can be a long one, particularly for more severe wounds. The first phase of healing can take three months, and the second phase can also take three additional months. For most people, their injury will be fully healed at the one-year point, but the scar can still change and worsen after that.

Natural Scar Remedies

As far as natural remedies, one option is using onion extract. This is something doctors often recommend after surgery or laser tattoo removal to prevent scar formation. Onion extract may be an anti-inflammatory substance, and it can kill bacteria.

Silicone gels and sheets are an option that may help with scars and, in particular hypertrophic and keloidscars. Silicone scar treatment products are available without a prescription in most cases, and they have a low side effect profile.

If you have something like acne scars, you might consider chemical exfoliators. Chemical exfoliators remove the top layers of dead skin, making the skin look smoother. There was one study that looked at chemical exfoliators and found two types that may be helpful in reducing acne scars. The study found peels with glycolic acid could be helpful, as could products with salicylic-mandelic acid combinations.

If you have a severe scar it can impact your quality of life, so rather than buying the overhyped promises of scar-reducing products, at that point, you might want to speak to a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help you figure out a plan of action to minimize your scarring and this is likely going to yield better results than relying only on over-the-counter products.

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