According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a scar is a mark left on your skin after a wound or injury heals. When you injure your skin either by accident or through surgery, your body creates more collagen to reconnect the tissues broken by the injury; however, there are instances when there is too much collagen that grows beyond the normal makeup of your skin cells, which leads to scar formation.
The truth is, scars are permanent, although their size and appearance may fade over time. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent them by following the specific guidelines enumerated below.
Here are 17 do’s and dont’s you can use to prevent, reduce or even erase your stubborn scars:
1. The Anatomy of a Scar: Getting to Know How Your Skin Heals
Once upon a time, you got into an accident or had a silly brawl with your neighbor pal that led to a wound or injury. Perhaps you’ve had an operation,or suffered from a skin condition like acne. This is where scarring usually begins.
Here’s the truth about scars: They are part of your skin’s natural healing process. In fact, this is what happens inside your skin after every wound or injury:
- Your body reduces the amount of blood flow to the area to limit blood loss.
- Proteins in your blood, such as fibrin and blood platelets work together to form a protective covering called a scab. This coating protects your wound from outside infections as your skin regenerates underneath.
- During skin regeneration, collagen, or the naturally occurring protein in your body, repairs and closes your wound, and then reconnects the broken tissues.
- In order to fix it as fast as possible, your body sometimes produces too much collagen. Believe it or not, this overdrive of collagen production leads to scars.
- Scars start with a reddish appearance and eventually lighten over time.
You don’t have to resign yourself to living with scars forever. Below are tips on how to prevent scars from knocking at your door.
2. Get To Know Your First Aid to Minimize Scarring
How much do you know about first aid when it comes to wounds or burns?
Here’s a secret: it sounds simple, but your first aid knowledge could help you a lot in minimizing your chances of scarring. Therefore, it would help if you bring out your fourth grade notebook about it and review it – or you could refer to the tips below.
First Aid Tips
Here’s a refresher on common first aid that can prevent scars:
- Run your wound, burn, puncture or scrape in cool water.
- Use gentle soap and a soft washcloth to clean the skin around your wound.
- Do not let your wound or injury come in contact with bacteria or external germs.
- Apply a firm but gentle pressure on your cuts or wounds to stop the bleeding.
- Use antibiotic ointment or cream if necessary.
This is just the beginning. There are more first aids tips that will help reduce your chances of scarring, so make sure you read until the end.
3. Why You Must Get Stitches Whenever Necessary
Simple wounds or bruises are nothing to worry about in most cases. They will heal in time and may not lead to scars. In case they do, they would be less noticeable and lighten up in time.
Apparently, it is different when your wound or cuts are deep or spread apart. In this case, it is important that a medical professional will sew or stitch the wound as soon as possible to minimize the wound area. Consequently, a wound or injury must be stitched while still fresh to increase the chances of healing and to prevent scars.
What happens if you aren’t able to get your wound stitched immediately?
If you wait a little longer, there is a possibility that the wound will become contaminated with bacteria or germs, thereby increasing the threat of infection. There is also a higher chance that your wound partially healed, which hinders successful suturing.
The bottom line is to get stitches when needed. If you are unsure, then don’t hesitate to seek a medical opinion for proper treatment.
4. To Cover or Not to Cover: That is the Wound Question
There is an ongoing debate on whether to keep a wounded or injured area covered or not. For some, covering the wound is important to shoo unwanted elements that could trigger infection and slow down the healing process. On the other hand, there are those who believe that wounds should be left alone.
What’s the real deal?
The answer is, it depends on the injury or wound. If the wound is a minor scratch or scrape that doesn’t require stitching, then it’s okay not to cover it. Otherwise, keep the wound covered using bandages, adhesive-free dressing or sterile gauze after cleaning the area. This minimizes infections that could slow down the healing process. Then at night, make sure to remove the bandage and let the wound breathe.
When it comes to covering your wound or any affected area, there is something you should remember, which you will find out more about, below.
5. Another Secret to Keep Your Scars From Being Noticeable
Sometimes, it is not enough that you cover the wound, but how you covered it is what matters in whether or not scars will form.
In other words, make sure to apply pressure on your wound when covering it. Placing pressure on the cut or injured area stops collagen from popping above the skin during the healing process, thereby reducing your chances of scarring. You can buy pressure pads or scar sheets in drug stores, which are designed to flatten scars. It may be a bit more expensive than your usual bandage, but it helps prevent scars from appearing on your skin.
Don’t forget to change the scar sheet daily to prevent infections.
Aside from keeping the wound area clean, there is another reason why you need to cover your wound. The next paragraph will tell you more about it.
6. Keep the Wound Area Moist to Prevent Scar Formation
One of the benefits of covering your wound is to keep the area not only clean, but also moist. The explanation for this is because moist environment encourages better and faster healing.
Here are reasons why moist wound healing speeds up the skin’s recovery process while preventing scars:
- New skin cells form better in a moist environment, thereby speeding up the healing of your skin.
- Moisture promotes growth and the migration of new cells as it ensures an ample supply of protein for wound closing.
- Moisture also keeps the wound supple and leads to better mobility.
The bottom line is, keeping your wound covered encourages a moist environment that could facilitate proper and faster healing. Just make sure you change the bandage often and allow your wound to breathe, especially at night.
Before you cover the area to keep it moist, there is something you should do first and that is to clean the area. Speaking of cleaning, check out the next section to find out how to keep your wound and the surrounding clean – and minimize scarring.
7. The Biggest Wound Care Tip to Remember
There is a reason why doctors cover your wound or injured area – and you guessed it right. It protects your wound against dirt, bacteria and other harmful elements that could infect your wound. Otherwise, this could slow down the healing process and could contribute to scarring, which you don’t want to happen.
Aside from covering your wound, it is equally important that you keep it clean – and changing your bandage regularly is not enough.
Here are tips in keeping your wound or injured area clean:
- Wash the area with mild soap and running cool water.
- Say no to soap and cleansers that are highly fragrant and contain ingredients like alcohol, menthol and mint to avoid skin irritations.
- Don’t forget to clean the area around the wound.
- If needed, apply petroleum jelly or antiseptic cream on your wound.
- Change bandage or wound covering daily.
- Avoid touching the affected area to minimize transfer of bacteria to the wound.
In relation to cleaning, there are a number of products you need to avoid since they could encourage the formation of scars. You may recognize many of these commonly-used products.
Read the succeeding sections to find out what they are and what you can use instead.
8. Keeping the Area Clean Without Those Tiny Bubbles
Admit it. When you were younger, someone told you that the best way to clean your wound was to apply hydrogen peroxide to it. Since you trusted that person, you used it. You even enjoyed seeing those little bubbles forming on top of your wound.
Thankfully, you now know better and never used this solution again.
Here is something you should know about hydrogen peroxide: it could lead to scars. There is no doubt that hydrogen peroxide could help clean the wound area. Unfortunately, this solution could damage the new skin cells immediately forming after you injure yourself – and the tiny bubbles is enough proof for that. As a result, it slows down the healing process and encourages scar formation.
Aside from hydrogen peroxide, there is another solution you should stay away from when it comes to cleaning the wound, which you will learn about in the next section.
9. Vitamin E: A Surprising Culprit That Contributes to Scars
Surprised? Don’t be.
Vitamin E is touted as a skin vitamin, which means that anything with vitamin E is good for your skin. Apparently, recent study shows otherwise and there is no study supporting the claim that vitamin E could maximize scar formation.
Just like hydrogen peroxide, this ingredient has an occlusive texture that impedes the healing process, especially during the first stage when your skin is trying to repair itself. At the same time, applying vitamin E can aggravate the marks brought by the wounds and could even lead to further skin problems.
If that is not enough to convince you,there are some people who are allergic to vitamin E and any allergic reaction may cause delay in the healing process. Who knows, you might be one of them.
Instead of using hydrogen peroxide or vitamin E, stick to gentle soap and water. This simple but effective trick increases your chances of preventing scars from forming in the first place.
10. Be Good to Your Scabs to Prevent Scarring
You already know that scarring is part of the healing process. You also know that scabs form, which protects your wound or injury against bacteria and outside forces.
Here’s the thing: it is tempting to pick those scabs in order to see that new flesh. In case you can’t help it, remember this: picking those scabs could facilitate scar formation.
The next time you feel tempted to pick or even touch them – don’t. The formation of scabs is also part of the healing process. This means if you attempt to remove them, it could cause serious impediment to the process of healing and skin recovery happening in the deeper layers of the skin.
The result is stubborn scars, but don’t despair, because there are many ways to minimize them, so keep reading to learn more.
11. Massage: A Simple Yet Effective Solution to Minimize Scars
Do you enjoy getting a massage? Don’t you just love the feeling every time the masseuse hits the right spot or your aching muscles?
The concept applies with wounds, but this time, the purpose of the massage is to prevent or reduce the appearance of scars. In fact, you should start massaging the area once the new skin has grown.
The purpose of massaging the mark is to help break down the excess bonds of collagen in the area. This increases your chances of making a scar less noticeable or not forming at all.
Massage Techniques to Minimize Scarring
- Apply lotion in your hands.
- In a circular motion, gently massage the affected area for 15 to 30 seconds several times a day.
- In choosing a lotion, make sure to choose a product that inhibits collagen formation.
Do you still have room for more scar prevention and reduction techniques? Then keep on reading until the very end to know how you can stop scars from forming or at least minimize their appearance in case they start popping on your skin.
12. Say No to Mr. Sun and Kiss Scars Goodbye
Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins your body needs for proper function. While you can get your supply from fortified foods, one of the best ways to get this vitamin is through sun exposure.
Unfortunately, you have to say pass on this daily activity, at least until the skin is fully healed.
Surely, the sun and its UV rays meant no harm; however, constant sun exposure enables the ultraviolet rays to slow down the healing process, thereby making your skin more prone to scarring.
That’s not all. The sun’s UV rays can stimulate pigment-producing cells and tend to discolor the scar tissue, thereby making it darker. After all, your skin is more vulnerable to discoloration when healing.
Sun Protection Tips to Remember
You should practice the following sun protection tips to prevent scarring:
- Avoid sun exposure at least until your wound fully heals.
- Wear protective clothing, such as scarves and wide-brimmed hats when going outdoors.
- Seek shade when going out is necessary.
- Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
This leads you to this scar prevention tip.
13. Sunscreen: A Skincare Product You Should Never Live Without
How often do you apply sunscreen? Do you always have a bottle of sunscreen with you anywhere you go? Apparently, this could be challenging in case you have wounds or injury located in areas easily exposed to the sun.
What’s up with sun and scars anyway?
Going under the sun while your wound is still fresh makes it more prone to scarring and discoloration. This is because applying sunscreen directly in the area is likewise not advisable.
Therefore, wait until the area is fully healed before heading outdoors. Once your wound is fully healed, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the wound for sun protection and reduce red or brown skin discoloration. Make sure you go for broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher. Last but not the least; don’t forget to reapply frequently, especially if you will be under the sun most of the time.
14. Keep Your Skin Free From Itching and Irritation
There is too much emphasis in keeping your skin, especially the affected area, clean at all times. This is because any irritation, itching, scratching or squeezing the affected area could deter your skin’s natural skin improvement. At the same time, unnecessary intervention or any external irritation leads to not only further scarring but also discoloration particularly in the scarred area.
What should you do?
Practice self-control and make sure to keep your skin free from any irritation or itching that could damage your skin. This also includes choosing your makeup or any cosmetic products wisely. Otherwise, cosmetic products with harmful ingredients reduce your skin’s natural repairing capacity and could lead to scarring.
If you can, go natural and make your own masks, moisturizer, and exfoliant for your skin.
15. Caveat Emptor: Advertising Claims That Make Big Promises
When you go to drug stores or the beauty section in malls or department stores, you will notice an entire section dedicated for scar creams. Most of these products contain phrases in their labels that promise to make your scars disappear. Because of this plus the nice packaging, you bought a bottle of scar-free lotion – plus one more in case you run out of your supply.
The point is, don’t easily believe in those false claims and bad advertising when it comes to scar products. You will never know what’s in there or how is it made. You could even experience an adverse reaction and make the scars even more noticeable.
If you want an anti-scar cream that works, make sure to ask your doctor about your best options.
16. For Scar Prevention or Reduction, Let It Heal Naturally
Have you noticed a common theme or denominator among all these prevention techniques?
If you notice, most of the tips focused on allowing your wound to heal naturally to avoid scarring.
Why is this important?
Scarring is a sign of healing in a manner you often don’t want to see. There is a reason why scabs form or you need to stay away from sunlight during the healing process. Your skin needs all the protection it can get to make sure it will heal from inside out. Any disruption in the process could trigger scars – and you don’t want that to happen.
However, every scar takes its own time to heal completely and disappear gradually. This leads you to the most important tip.
17. The Most Important Tip Ever When It Comes to Scars
Everything in this world is about time, including your scars. There are tons of products and medical procedures available to minimize the formation of scars with hundreds of information about ways to prevent them from happening.
Here’s the thing in case scars decide to show up: it will take some time before you notice an improvement in their appearance. In fact, the appearance of scars will never stop changing unless they are keloid scars.
What’s the bottom line? Be patient. In fact, this is the most important thing to remember when it comes to scars. It may be tempting to shell out your hard-earned money for expensive laser treatments to make your scars go away. The term “anti-scar” or “scar-free” in creams and ointments could be enticing and make you want to buy them. That’s fine.
Remember this: it takes time, even years, before your marks will fade. Don’t be fooled by false advertising claims. Use the natural methods, and your scars will fade and look better soon.
Generally, scars do not pose a serious threat to your health. However, they could still affect your emotional well-being and make you more conscious of your appearance. In that case, prevention is always better than a cure, which means you need to know these 17 scar prevention and reduction techniques.
Remember: minimizing your scar’s appearance will take some time. Be patient, and practice the prevention tips in this article the next time you end up with a wound.