Caring for scars
Wounds to the skin and tissue can heal on their own over time. But scars will remain after those wounds heal.
Many people decide to give special attention to scars when they:
- Want to improve self-confidence due to scars that are very visible on the face, hands or arms, for example.
- Have pain, itching, swelling, scabs or other discomfort as the skin heals.
- Have pain or discomfort of underlying tissues, tendons and nerves because of how the scar heals.
- Tend to scar easily.
Types of care for scars
Once you have a scar, it will not go away completely. However, proper care can help wounds heal with less scarring. And once the wound has closed, you can take steps to help improve how a scar looks or feels.
Talk to your doctor about how to care for your skin to reduce the appearance of scarring, and about what you can expect for any scar care he or she may recommend.
Depending on the cause and type of scar, different products can help manage different concerns like pinkness or redness, for example. Others can help improve the appearance of a scar in other ways.
- Antibacterial cream and a bandage will help to prevent infections and can help skin heal more quickly.
- Scar products with sunscreen can help keep scars from getting darker.
- For pain during healing, non-prescription pain products can help.
- Products with onion extract (like Mederma® products) can reduce discoloration and improve the overall appearance and texture of scars.
- Silicone gels and sheets can help prevent too much scar tissue from forming.
- Special makeup can hide or camouflage scars.
In-office care your doctor may suggest
For scars that cause pain, discomfort or limit your ability to move easily, your family doctor, plastic surgeon or a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin conditions) has many options to care for you. For the best possible results when caring for scars, be sure to follow the directions of your doctor and those on the labels of any products you use.
Some options for care include:
- Steroid injections, or shots, which can sometimes flatten scars and reduce itching. This is often a first step to making larger or deeper scars less obvious.
- Physical therapy (especially for contracture scars), including massage with gels that contain onion extract.
- Chemical peels, dermabrasion and other procedures to remove the upper layer of skin so that new, smoother skin can grow back. These skin “revisions” also include laser surgery, skin grafting, and other types of surgery.
Talk to your doctor about how to care for your skin to lessen scarring, and about what you can expect from any care or treatment.PREVIOUS: How skin healsNEXT: Preventing scars