Prevent Nasty Scars from Popping Up
Your skin if your body’s front line defender against damage. Scarring is one of the ways your body copes with trauma. A scar is the build up of fibrous tissue called collagen. Scars can be painful, itchy, and downright ugly. Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to prevent your scar from becoming worse that it has to be.
Caring for the wound is the most important step in preventative care for scars. You want to make sure that the wound is completely free from debris. You can do this by rinsing out the wound with cool water and removing any dirt or pebbles with a sterilized tweezer. A mild soap may also be used. Anything too harsh can dry out the wound, making the already forming scar worse.
Keep out toxins, bacteria, and other debris by keeping the wound covered. Antibacterial ointment may be used, but the best way to ensure proper moisturization is with a silicone based gel or pressure dressing. Keeping the wound moist and clean will help the wound heal properly and aid in preventing a larger scar from forming.
The first thing you body does after injury is attempt to repair itself. The body does this by producing large amounts of white blood cells in order to prevent bacteria from entering the open wound. This action forms a scab. Scabs are often unsightly and extremely itchy. For these reasons, we are often tempted to pick at them. Do not pick off scars. This reopens the wound, causing your body to work even harder producing white blood cells and fibrous tissue which can cause an even bigger scar. Picking the scab off can also result in a bacterial infection.
Caring for your Scar
There is no guarantee that a scar will not form, even if the injury is minor. Depending on age, race, and location of the injury, the scar will take on a different appearance. If a scar does form, it will need care to prevent growth and promote healing and a more normal look. Most scars from on areas on the body where lots of tension or stress is put upon. For this reason it is important not to put further stress, like exercising or heavy lifting, on wounded areas before they are completely healed.
Scars can take on many different looks. Some are pale and flat, which are fairly easy to cover up. Others are bright pink or red and raised above the skin because of the overproduction of collagen during the healing process. These types of scars are referred to as hypertrophic or keloids. Hypertrophic and keloid scars can be painful and ugly. Because of the unattractive appearance of these types of scars, people are constantly looking for ways to get rid of them.
It is important to use sunscreen on a scar, especially during the early stages of healing. This is because the skin is very sensitive and the slightest amount of UV rays can cause inflammation and infection.
There are many creams on the market that contain healing agents such as cocoa butter and vitamin E, both of which are soothing to damaged skin. The problem is, most moisturizers are mainly composed of water which dilutes the healing properties that drive the price of these creams up so high.
Silicone based gel sheets are quite popular and effective in treating scars because of their moisturizing capabilities. The silicone forms a protective barrier on the skin which locks the moisture in, allowing the skin to heal properly. Silicone also helps to shrink and lighten the scar.
Waterproof concealers can provide a nice, inexpensive temporary relief for scars. A shade with a green undertone is the best cover up for reddened areas, while yellow is more effective for brownish scars.
Some people with darker skin sometimes try hyperpigmentation to reduce the appearance of scarring because of the darkening effect which can help blend the scar in with their normal skin. This can be effective, but is an expensive and permanent procedure that may not match your skin tone exactly.
For cratered or sunken scars such as those caused by acne, collagen injections are sometimes used to fill these areas. They are somewhat uneconomical and need to be done several times to see full effect. Steroid injections, which have an opposite effect, are for raised scars to help flatten the area. These are also expensive and need to be repeated over time.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion can be helpful in reducing appearance of scars. Both work to remove a layer of skin, called exfoliating. This helps to lighten and flatten raised scars.
Surgical removal of scars is a more extreme technique. Surgical removal is often done with a scalpel or laser. These treatments are costly and can often leave the skin more scarred than before.