Whenever your skin is injured (accidents or surgeries), your body works to repair the wound. As your skin heals, a scar may form, as this is a natural part of the healing process. But how the scar appears in the long-term depends on the healing process of your skin.
While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating the wound at home. Here are my tips for reducing the appearance of scars caused by injuries such as skinned knees or deep scratches:
- 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. I recommend a soap made by “gentle skin” instead of harsh/abrasive soaps.
- Get a jar of Vaseline, CeraVe healing ointment, or Aquaphor ointment – apply it at least 3x/day. To help the injured skin heal, use petroleum ointment to keep the wound moist. Dry scars take far 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.
- After cleaning the wound and applying petroleum ointment, cover the skin with a bandage. For large scrapes, sores, burns or persistent redness, it may be helpful to use hydrogel or silicone gel sheets.
- Change your bandage 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. If using silicone gel or hydrogel sheets, follow the instructions on the package for changing the sheets.
- If your injury required stitches, follow your doctor’s advice on how to care for the wound and when to get the stitches removed. Removing sutures at the appropriate time helps to minimize the appearance of a scar.
- Apply sunscreen to the wound after it has healed. This is my favorite advice since it is so often missed. 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 during daytime.
Although no scar can be completely eliminated, most scars fade over time. If you’re worried about the appearance of a scar, be sure to see myself or another board-certified dermatologist.
So while Halloween costumes often have scary fake scars, we do not need further scars to haunt us all year round. Be safe, take care of any skin irritation, and be sure to leave any scar advice below!