The best way to minimize scarring is to avoid the injuries, infections, burns, bug bites, acne, psoriasis and stretch marks that cause scars in the first place. Of course, it’s impractical to impossible to avoid all these causes for a lifetime. With this in mind, everybody should know how to minimize scarring—including the formation, size, and appearance of scars—after an injury has occurred.
The first minutes, hours, and days after an injury are the most important. You need to take immediate steps to reduce the chances of infection. Stay diligent about your skin care routine in the weeks and months after the wound has healed initially. The longer an injury takes to heal, the more likely a scar will form.
Wash and treat the wound as soon as possible to avoid infection. Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are generally no better than water for cleaning the wound. While these chemicals kill off bacteria, they also kill the skin cells that are working to heal the wound. After cleaning the wound, however, it’s a good idea to apply some petroleum jelly, Neosporin, or other antibacterial ointment.
Moisturize your skin before and after. Dry, hard skin is more susceptible to abrasions in the first place. Plus, wounds left exposed to the dry air are more likely to scab over which can make it harder for new skin growth to close the wound. Keep wounds moist and covered to promote scab- and scar-free healing.
That said, significant wounds may end up scabbing over, no matter how good your wound care strategy is. In this case, do your best to let the scabs fall off on their own, even if they begin to itch. Repeatedly picking at your scabs will practically guarantee some type of scar forms. A similar principle applies to acne, bug bites, and other lesions. Pop your own pimples or scratch an itchy bite mark and you’re a lot more likely to see scarring as a result.
Contact your dermatologist if a wound does become infected. Rather than keeping the area moist, some infections are best treated with an Epsom salt soak. Other types of skin infection may simply become irritated and may even worsen. (In rare cases, an infected wound may be a serious, even life-threatening, condition.)
Apply a skin moisturizer and sunscreen to help the skin continue to heal and break up any the fibrous tissue that threatens to become a permanent scar. Even if the scar isn’t especially noticeable, the fibrous tissue may also create areas of permanently tightened, stretched skin that has a tendency to be itchy and uncomfortable.
The best scar prevention and treatment options may also depend on your type of skin and your type of scar. People with lighter skin are more likely to develop depressed hypertrophic scars in which excessive collagen creates a raised scar. People with darker skin may also form keloid scars in which the scar tissue itself grows outside the original boundaries of the wound. When there is an insufficient amount of tissue regeneration, the skin may remain indented instead, known as an atrophic scar.
Even if you do everything right, scars may still form. The size and depth of the wound plays a huge role in how and whether a scar forms. A lot of people also want to know how long after an injury can a scar fade on its own. While scarring may continue to change throughout a person’s life, significant improvement in the appearance of a scar is usually occurs within 6-12 months.
This doesn’t mean, however, that nothing can be done for permanent scarring. The dermatologist and skin specialists at The Skin Care Center have multiple treatment options available to reduce the appearance of your scars. In addition to laser skin therapies, our clinic offers dermal fillers, microneedling, and chemical peels for treating scars. In cases with especially gnarly scars, excising and removing the scar entirely may be the best option. A surgical scar will inevitably replace the old scar but may still be a big improvement in overall cosmetic appearance.
If you already have painful or unsightly scarring, the first thing to do is Contact Us to schedule an Appointment with our dermatology clinic for a consultation about what type of treatment(s) are likely to yield the best results for scars. Even if the scar can’t be eliminated completely, significant improvement is usually possible. Look your best and feel your best with our scar removal treatments.