How Do You Prevent and Treat Scars?
An accident in the kitchen, falling off your bike, or that huge spot on your chin that you just can’t leave alone… Your skin protects your body against external damage, but sometimes it isn’t strong enough. And then it is important to know what you can do to help your skin heal. For scars are awful and prevention is better than cure!
WHEN THE SKIN STILL HASN’T YET HEALED
If you have stitches in your skin or are being treated by a Doctor for your wound then you need to follow his/her instructions. In other instances it is worthwhile following the advice below.
Keep it clean
Wash the area with water and a mild un-perfumed cleanser in order to remove dirt and bacteria. As long as you do this each day, there is no need to use an anti-bacterial salve. A lot of the anti-bacterial salves or antibiotic solutions cause more harm than good. They irritate the skin causing the skin to take longer to heal.
Apply Vaseline for a minimum of 5 days in order to keep the wounded skin moisturised. Vaseline prevents the wound from drying out; research has revealed that dryness actually causes tissue damage and therefore a delay in the healing of the wound. According to a study undertaken by Dr. George D. Winter, wounds which were covered with lubricated mesh healed twice as quickly (12-15 days) as wounds which were dry treated (25-30 days). In other words, don’t allow a scab to form, because wounds with scabs take longer to heal!
After cleaning and the application of Vaseline, it is best to cover the skin with a plaster or with mesh and tape. Even more suitable; when I worked in the Plastic Surgery Department in Rotterdam, I always used Unitulle mesh. This is impregnated with a thick salve and you place this against the skin. This also prevents the mesh from sticking to the wound. I always keep a box at home and this keeps my children happy! Make sure you change the bandage daily…
The formation of a scar is also influenced by genetic factors and lifestyle. It may be that a slower healing process is in your genes. Smoking also slows down the recovery of your skin, as does vitamin deficiency or too much sun exposure. A healthy lifestyle is therefore very important for optimum healing! The evidence is a little vague but a large dose of Vitamin C appears to accelerate wound healing.
WHEN THE SKIN HAS HEALED: PREVENTING SCARS
Keep it supple and hydrated
It is always a good idea to smear in a soothing cream anyway. This will keep the skin supple and massage the scar, which will make it become less visible. Make sure that you use a cream which doesn’t contain any irritating ingredients. What your scar cream should contain is antioxidants and skin repairing ingredients such as: silicone, Niacinamide, evodia, liquorice root, oat, panthenol, glycerine and plant extract oils. These can help the skin to heal.
As soon as the wound has closed you can use a silicone gel or a plaster. You can apply this onto clean skin (no more Vaseline). Use this daily for the first eight weeks as soon as the wound has closed.
You really must avoid the sun until the wound has closed. Thereafter you can go into the sun with good protection. A good layer of SPF 30 sun cream applied over your scars is a must.
A YEAR LATER…
Your scars will look its worst at around two to three months after the injury has occurred. Don’t be shocked by this, just wait for at least a year and then see how it looks. In most cases the scar will have improved in that time. If, after a year, you still find it unsightly, you can look into an effective and suitable treatment. I will tell you more about this soon.
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)
You can also read:
Does a Vitamin E Scar Cream Work?
List of Irritating Ingredients for You to Avoid
List of Perfume Ingredients for You to Avoid