The human body is quite amazing. It has the incredible ability to heal itself. However, many people worry after an injury about what their scar will look like, especially if it is in a cosmetically sensitive area.
Whenever your skin is injured – whether by accident or from surgery – your body works to repair the wound immediately. As your skin heals, a scar may form, as this is a natural part of the healing process.
The appearance of a scar often depends on how well the wound heals. While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid because of constant tension, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating the wound at home.
Here are some dermatology tips for reducing the appearance of scars caused by injuries such as skinned knees or deep scratches:
1) Always keep your cut, scrape or other skin injury clean. Gently wash the area with mild soap and water to keep out germs and remove debris. This is recommended to be done twice daily for a wound.
2) To help the injured skin heal, use petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. Petroleum jelly prevents the wound from drying out and forming a scab; wounds with scabs take longer to heal. This will also help prevent a scar from getting too large, deep or itchy. As long as the wound is cleaned daily, it is not necessary to use anti-bacterial ointments. Aquaphor is one of my favorite petroleum jelly products. It can be found at most local stores and pharmacies.
3) After cleaning the wound and applying petroleum jelly or a similar ointment, cover the skin with an adhesive bandage.
4) Change your bandage twice daily to keep the wound clean while it heals. If you have skin that is sensitive to adhesives, try a non-adhesive gauze pad with paper tape.
5) If your injury requires stitches, follow your medical provider’s advice on how to care for the wound and when to get the stitches removed. This may help minimize the appearance of a scar.
6) Apply sunscreen to the wound after it has healed. Sun protection may help reduce red or brown discoloration and help the scar fade faster. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF or 30 or higher and reapply frequently.
If you have minor cuts or scrapes, you can help reduce the appearance of a scar by properly treating the injury at home. However, if your injury is deep, very painful or if your skin becomes infected, seek immediate medical care.
Many patients ask me if there are any other products that can help to minimize a scar. Silicon sheeting is one of the best products that can be used. At Advanced Dermatology, we carry Biocorneum. Biocorneum is a unique silicon sheeting product with sunscreen added that will give your scar the best possible cosmetic outcome. It should be used after the skin has completely healed (no open wounds). Your medical provider will instruct you on how long to use the product.
If you have any dermatology needs, the providers at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center would be pleased to be a part of your health care.
Fayetteville: 1444 E Stearns St. Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479-718-7546)
Bentonville: 701 NW McNelly Rd. Bentonville, AR 72712 (479-268-3555)
Ryan Crowder MPAS, PA-C
Article adapted from an original article by the AAD.