What to do and what not to do in the treatment of scars
Most of us have proof of a battle scar or two whilst growing up. Always a reminder of when learning how to ride a bicycle at a young age, knee surgery in high school, a run in with a paring knife whilst cooking a yummy meal and even C-section surgeries. These all leave some kind of scarring and all bring back memories of some sort. The second layer of the skin is composed mainly of collagen (a protein fibre) and aids in the repair of damaged skin.
The good news is that with time most scars fade and are not so noticeable. Other scars however don’t, and there are procedures like laser treatments that minimize the appearance of scars considerably. But as with anything else, the best cure is the preventative one. The best way to prevent a scar is by treating wounds from the start and treating them correctly. Below we will discuss some of these.
DON’T dab or wipe any wounds with hydrogen peroxide. It destroys the new skin cells that immediately start to grow.
DO put a covering on the wound. Contrary to belief, keeping a wound open only delays the healing process by 50%. By keeping the wound moist it will prevent the formation of a scab, which acts as a hindrance to the growth of new tissue. It is best to treat the wound with an antibiotic cream on a daily basis. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a good antibiotic cream. The cream will prevent any infections, which is another hindrance to the healing process. Once the cream has been applied, make sure to cover the wound (and keep it covered) with a bandage. After a few days, replace the cream with rejuvasil silicone scar gel or a silicone sheet, and keep applying/covering it on a daily basis until the new skin grows over the wound.
DON’T apply vitamin E onto the wound at all. It has been proven scientifically that vitamin E impairs the healing of the wound, and a third of participants who used the vitamin E to treat their wounds developed an allergic reaction.
DO keep constant pressure on the wound by means of bandages or silicone sheeting. These coverings help to flatten scars like keloids and scarring with ropy tissue that grows wildly over the natural boundaries (it is not yet known why, but this type of scarring occurs more on darker skinned individuals). Scar Heal’s FX scar Silicone sheeting will flatten and improve the appearance of the scar.
DON’T expose new scars to the sun. The ultraviolet rays slow down the healing process. Even worse is the fact that the ultraviolet rays actually stimulate melanocytes (which are cells that produce pigmentation) and can cause a dark discoloration. Always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen that contains SPF of at least 15 or higher before venturing outside.
DO gently massage the scar once the wound has healed completely. This helps the breakdown of the dense bands of collagen that have attached to the underlying tissue. This is mostly seen on caesarean sections, appendectomies or hand wounds. Once the skin has grown over the wound, gently massage the area with cream in a circular motion for 15 to 30 seconds a few times daily. Use Scar Esthetique advanced scar therapy for best results.
DON’T ignore a scar that has become raised, itchy or red. This could be a sign of infection and even an allergic reaction to the antibacterial cream or the bandage. There are injections of corticosteroids which can reduce the inflammation and breaks down any excess scar tissue. If you have a scar that you cannot live with, for instance scarring in the facial region and the results you get with Scarheal are not to your satisfaction, there are laser treatments available. It is important to talk to your doctor about this especially when the scar is still fresh (6-8 weeks after injury). Laser treating a scar early on can improve the scar tremendously. Subjects that have undergone laser treatments for scarring have seen an improvement by half, or their scars became undetectable.
DO ask our physician to remove stitches after a week to prevent the appearance of track marks. These are those little bumps that form on either side of the incision and later become a permanent reminder of the injury.