If you’ve recently cut or injured yourself particularly if it’s in a highly visible place, you may be worried about formation of a disfiguring scar. For a deep cut or wound that penetrates into the dermal layer of the skin, this can be a real concern. Scar formation is part of the natural healing process as the injured dermis tries to repair itself by laying down new collagen. While most scars are flat, some individuals overproduce collagen in response to injury resulting in formation of a hypertrophic, raised scar or keloid which can be quite disfiguring. This is most commonly seen in dark skinned people. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of scarring. Here’s how to prevent a scar:
1. How to prevent a scar: Avoid unproven home remedies.
When faced with the prospect of a scar, many people turn to home remedies such as application of vitamin E or honey to the affected area. A study published in Dermatological Surgery in 1999, showed that application of vitamin E to scar after skin surgery not only didn’t improve its appearance, but lead to the development of contact dermatitis in some cases. Avoid applying these so called “natural remedies” to cuts as they don’t appear to prevent scar formation.
2. How to prevent a scar: Consider using silicone sheets
Regular application of silicone sheets to a cut may help to prevent scar formation in some cases. Neosporin makes a version of these silicone sheets which are easy to apply and may even help to prevent formation of hypertrophic scars or keloids from forming at sites of burns, cuts, and other minor injuries. These are a worthwhile investment if you have a deeper cut or are predisposed to scar formation.
3. How to prevent a scar: Massage the area as new tissue forms
Scars form when new collagen is laid down on the surface of the skin. Massaging the injured area after collagen formation has started to occur can help to break up some of the dense collagen bonds which may give rise to an unsightly scar. Massaging the area several times a day may help to lighten the appearance of the scar even if scar formation still occurs.
4. How to prevent a scar: Practice good wound care
Practicing good wound care can help to reduce the risk of scar formation. Make sure the area is kept lightly covered with a protective bandage and apply an antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin to reduce the risk of infection. The bandage should be loose to allow air to circulate over the wounded area. Use an antibacterial soap to clean the wound at least once a day.
5. How to prevent a scar: Other tips
Watch your diet as good nutritional status is important for aiding the healing process. If you smoke, stop until the wound heals as this can reduce oxygen delivery to the wounded area. Avoid exposing the cut or wound to direct sunlight as this can slow down the healing process.
If despite your best efforts, a scar formation still occurs, visit your doctor. There are ways to reduce the appearance of a scar such as dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. Although expensive, these can be quite effective in improving the appearance of scarring.