Scars: some folks love them, and some folks hate them. If you find yourself in the latter category, you probably have plenty that you’d like to make disappear. Lucky for you, there are a million oils, creams and ointments out there that claim they make your scars do the vanishing act - but do they really do what they promise? And if you’re not a big fan of all those chemicals, what is another way that you can help reduce the appearance of your scars?
Scar Reduction Treatments
There are all sorts of products and services offered to “magically” reduce the appearance of your scars. Unfortunately, if for the sole reason that there are so darn many of them, it is impossible to say that all of them work, or all of them don’t. First off, everyone’s body reacts differently to different treatments. Secondly, some of them work and many of them don’t. Before trying a treatment, over the counter or otherwise, make an appointment with a dermatologist, who can advise you the best steps to take in your quest to rid your skin of its scars.
Vitamin E Oil
As noted above, it is really nearly impossible to say that one cream or oil will work over another, however there are two that might be worth investigating. Vitamin E in capsule form is often suggested by doctors following surgery that involved making a rather large incision. While again, the degree to which this can work depends on your chemical make up and your complexion (lighter complected people might see less visible results than Black or brown complected people), vitamin E does appear to have a measure of success in reducing the appearance of scars. Indeed, you will likely notice when reading the list of ingredients of many over-the-counter miracle creams whose claims are to remove scars, many will have some percentage of vitamin E. Unfortunately, the list of fillers, fragrances and chemicals that are difficult to pronounce and require further investigation into its safety and effectivenss seem to negate any healthy skin promotion that the vitamin E could offer. Given that, it might be just best to spent a fraction of the cost of these so-called cures for scars and just buy vitamin E in capsule form.
To apply vitamin E oil, simply puncture the capsule (usually in gelatin form) with a clean and sterilized needle and squeeze directly onto the scar. You may apply as often or seldom as you wish. You should – depending upon your body’s reaction to it – see some difference after two weeks.
Tea Tree Oils
If you are a person prone to keloid scars (characterized by skin that usually darker, raised, bumpy, irregularly shaped, smoother and shinier than “normal” scars), tea tree oils do appear to have some measure of success in reducing all the characteristics associated with keloiding. Although there is nothing medically wrong with a person who tends toward keloiding, it is rarer to find people whose scars keloid. People of African, sometimes Asian and Latin descent are prone to this type of scarring, although Caucasians are not immune to this rare but benign form of scarring.
Tea tree oil can be applied directly to your scar. Initially try a small amount in the unaffected area and wait 24 to 48 hours to ensure that you are not allergic to the oil. If no allergy appears, it may be applied twice daily for up to two weeks.
One way to reduce the appearance of a scar, either after it has become a scar, or if you have a wound and know it will become one is to massage it. It is important that you do not do this when the wound is still scabbed, and therefore would bleed if you tried to, but after the point in the healing process where the wound has become a - not yet permanent - mark on your skin.
Including heat and ice in the massage process will help this along greatly. Massaging the area of the wound/scar upsets the tissue, which stimulates blood flow to the area, and blood flow is synonymous with healing.
Some scars gradually reduce in appearance on their own. This process just takes so much time, that sometimes, you won’t even notice it. To help your body’s natural scar reduction process, it is important to protect the skin and scar from further damage. Using sunscreen generously is a great way to do this, especially since scars often show in the form of discoloration. Discolored skin will not only stand out more the tanner you are, but will also continue to discolor when affected by the sun.
Keep Your Skin Moist
In the same vein as protecting your skin/scar from the sun to promote overall health, is keeping your skin hydrated. Dry, flaky, unhappy skin is much less likely to go through the healing process the way moist skin would. Keeping your skin strong not only helps to reduce the appearance of scars, but also, the healthier your skin, the less likely you are to get scars in the future.
On that note, consider, in addition to how to treat old scars, thinking about how to prevent new ones. Taking good care of wounds, i.e. cleaning, protecting, airing out, moisturizing and not picking at them makes them more likely to completely heal without leaving behind a mark.
Scars really aren’t so bad. Some people say that “scars are just stories.” Keep this in mind when treating your own scars. The overall health of your skin is more important than the appearance of a scar or two. Don’t use harsh treatments that promise total annihilation of all of your imperfections - along with a side effect or two or three or four. You are beautiful, with or without scars, but if you want to reduce their appearance, do so safely, and for the right reasons.
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.