Save 10% on all Active Scar Defense products + an extra 20% on 60-Day Kits! See savings in cart.*

  • Blog
  • How To Prevent Scarring

How To Prevent Scarring

  • Neodyne
  • April 25, 2022

Scars are subtle reminders of minor or major injuries that a person has experienced during their lifetime. However, there are times when we don’t want a lingering souvenir of when we fell on the way to work or burned ourselves while cooking.

So, if you have an open wound, you may be asking yourself, “now what?” Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent scarring, such as ensuring the wound is properly cared for, not picking at scabs, keeping the area clean, and more. 

In this guide, we’ll go over how to prevent a cut from scarring and dive deeper into averting acne and burn scars. Continue reading for a few tips to reduce scarring, or use the links below to get the answers to your questions fast.

Note: In many cases, scars can’t be avoided, but this guide will also help you reduce their appearance and prevent noticeable scarring during the healing process.

What Is A Scar?

To prevent scars, it’s a good idea to first have a thorough understanding of scars and how they form. That said, scars are essentially your body’s way of repairing broken or damaged skin due to injuries, burns, surgeries, acne, and infections. 

When your skin breaks, it’ll go through different stages to close the wound site, including:

  • Inflammatory phase — The first phase of the healing process typically occurs one week to 30 days following an incision or injury. To close the damaged skin, the production of reparative cells (collagen) will rise, and collagen will congregate at the incision. This stage is imperative to your recovery since the site is at its most vulnerable. 
  • Proliferative phase — Collagen will fill any gaps located at the incision site. Abrupt movements or increased stress on the wound can cause the collagen to break and delay healing. 
  • Remodeling phase — Dry scar tissue (scabs) will form at the incision site to protect the area from further damage and encourage healing.

Scars can occur anywhere on your body, but how long they take to heal ultimately depends on the depth, type, and size of the wound. 

Scar Types

There are many different types of scars—some of which can appear darker or raised, depending on their location, depth, and size. Knowing what kind of scar you have on your body can help you determine the best course of action to reduce their appearance. Common scar types and their treatment options include:

  • Contracture — Contracture scars will often develop after a burn and cause the damaged skin to tighten, making it difficult to move the affected area. Individuals can opt for a skin graft or replace the skin with healthy tissue to treat contracture scars.
  • Depressed (atrophic) — Depressed, or atrophic, scars can form due to chickenpox or acne and leave small dips in the skin. Depressed scars are commonly located on the face due to acne, but they can also be found in other areas. A dermatologist can help you with atrophic scars with chemical peels, fillers, or skin needling. You can also opt for over-the-counter treatments. 
  • Flat — These types of scars often start raised and flatten over time. While most flat scars will gradually fade in appearance, they can be a source of insecurity. Individuals can treat them with silicone injections, silicone sheets, and surgery. 
  • Keloids — Keloid scars are thick, raised scars that form when an excessive amount of collagen collects around a wound site and continues to grow beyond the wound’s borders. Keloids can develop on the chest, back, shoulders, and earlobes as a result of damaged skin. To treat keloid scars, you’ll have to contact a dermatologist for steroid injections, cryotherapy, pressure therapy, surgery, and radiation. 
  • Raised (hypertrophic) — Like keloids, hypertrophic scars develop due to an increase in collagen production at the site of the wound. One key difference is that raised scars won’t expand past the wound’s borders and will often become more apparent as time goes on. In many cases, tummy tuck and mommy makeover scars can develop into hypertrophic scars. Treatment for raised scars includes the use of steroids, laser therapy, and surgery. 
  • Stretch marks — Scars resulting from stretch mars are often due to skin growing or shrinking at a rapid rate. This occurs when the connective tissues under the skin become damaged, primarily after puberty, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy. Stretch marks are very noticeable in their infancy but will gradually fade to a lighter tone. Over-the-counter ointments, prescription creams, chemical peels, and laser therapy are viable treatment options.

What Is The Best Way To Prevent Scarring?

There are many steps you can take to prevent scarring and ensure your wound heals properly, including cleaning it, keeping it hydrated and covered, resting, and limiting contact with the area. Let’s go over these points more in detail below:

Clean the wound correctly

Whether you scraped your knee or cut yourself while cooking, cleaning the wound right away is essential. Here’s how to do so correctly:

  1. Wash and dry your hands and put on gloves if you have them.
  2. Rinse the wound under running water for five to ten minutes to flush out bacteria and debris. You can also use a mild, fragrance-free soap that won’t irritate the skin.
  3. Use a water-soaked cloth or gauze pad or alcohol-free wipe to dab and wipe the area clean. 
  4. Pat dry with a clean towel or tissue. Avoid drying the wound with items that can contaminate the area, such as fluffy cotton balls.
  5. Apply petroleum jelly to keep it hydrated.
  6. Apply a sterile dressing to the wound to shield it from germs and prevent it from re-opening. This includes bandages and non-adhesive pads

It’s also a good idea to remove and reapply the bandage daily since it allows you to evaluate the wound for signs of infection, such as:

  • Pus or drainage 
  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Foul odor
  • Warm and swollen skin

Make sure you’re taking off the bandage with washed hands and cleaning the wound before covering it again. Keeping wounds clean can advance healing since infections can cause your wound to become inflamed, prolonging scar formation. 

If you notice your wound is becoming infected, please seek medical attention right away. 

Keep the wounded area moist and shielded

There’s often a debate of whether to air out wounds or not, but according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s better to bandage wounds than leave them uncovered. This is because all wounds—including cuts, scrapes, and incisions—require moisture to heal. Not covering your damaged skin with a sterile dressing can dry out the area, increasing pain and inflammation and delaying healing.

In one study comparing the impact of moist, wet, and dry environments on wound healing, moist environments facilitated the healing process by preventing the wound from drying, reducing inflammation, supporting collagen synthesis, and breaking down dead tissue. As a result, keeping a wound moist ensures there’s minimal scarring and less pain.

You can use a topical treatment like petroleum jelly to maintain your wound hydrated since it’s gentle on your skin and won’t irritate it further. Make sure to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly with clean hands from a tube to avoid introducing bacteria to the wound. It’s also best to avoid using topical antibiotics and antiseptics, such as iodine and hydrogen peroxide, unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. 

You can also use embrace® Active Scar Defense, which is made with 100% medical-grade silicone. Not only will our line of silicone gel sheets hydrate your scars, but they’ll also soften the area to encourage a lighter and thinner scar. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your skin protected in the shower and during exercise. 

Reduce movement

As mentioned earlier in the article, scars are vulnerable during their infancy, making it easier to re-open healing tissue. So, the more frequently your scars have to kickstart the restorative process all over again, the longer it’ll take them to heal. 

Some scars are also more susceptible to re-opening due to their location. For example, tummy tuck scars, which are located in the lower abdomen, pelvic area, and belly button, can become irritated due to heavy lifting or vigorous exercise. For this reason, doctors recommend that individuals avoid certain activities that can strain the abdominal muscles.

Contact your healthcare provider for further assistance if you’re concerned about what you can and can’t do as your wound heals. They’ll be able to recommend activities to do during recovery and give you a timeline for when you can go back to your regular, day-to-day activities.

Minimize contact with the scar

You’ve probably heard someone say “don’t pick your scabs” at some point in your lifetime—and for a good reason! Picking at your scars, especially during it’s most fragile stages, can cause inflammation, worsening the wound and increasing the likelihood of long-term scarring. 

That said, the urge to scratch scabs can be extremely difficult to ignore, especially if they’re particularly itchy. According to one study, wounds itch due to the increased production of small proteins known as cytokines that increase inflammation, nerve signaling from tissue tension, and dryness. If your wound is itchy, here are a few remedies that can help you find some relief:

  • Moisturize the area with petroleum jelly
  • Use a cold compress
  • Don’t suffocate your wound with tight-fitting clothing
  • Keep the wound covered with a sterile dressing to avoid touching it
  • Wear loose clothing that won’t snag and pull on the scab

If your wound continues to itch despite the remedies mentioned above, consider speaking to your doctor about using anti-itch ointments. 

It’s important to seek attention if your wound is severe, deep, or caused by bites or second- and third-degree burns. Doctors are specially trained, so they’ll be able to clean the wound professionally and administer stitches if necessary.

How To Prevent Acne Scars

Acne can develop anywhere on your body, but it’s common for individuals to get pimples on their chest, back, and face. While whiteheads and blackheads will come and go with little-to-no scarring, some acne will cause scars due to loss of tissue, swelling, lack of collagen, and excess reparative tissue. Acne can be a source of insecurity for many and can be incredibly embarrassing when scars are left behind.

If you’re one of the 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 that suffer from acne, you may be wondering how to prevent scarring. The following tips can help you prevent acne scars:

  • Wear sunscreen — It’s important to get enough sunlight to help your body produce vitamin D daily. Just make sure to wear sunscreen to prevent your scars from darkening.
  • Avoid scratching, picking, squeezing — Frequent contact with your acne can irritate your skin and worsen scarring. You can also introduce bacteria and germs if you pick or pop pimples with dirty hands.
  • Don’t smoke — Smoking is detrimental to your health for various reasons, including increasing your risk of acne scars.
  • Treat acne — Delaying treatment for your acne can increase the likelihood of scarring, especially if you have mild to severe acne that’s becoming worse.
  • Consult a dermatologist — Dermatologists are a great resource for the prevention of acne scars since they’re knowledgeable on the subject. Plus, they can be of service when over-the-counter treatments, lifestyle changes, or home remedies don’t improve your acne or acne scars. Treatments for acne scars that dermatologists may use include surgery, injections, resurfacing, skin tightening procedures, collagen-induction therapy, and cryosurgery.

How To Prevent Burn Scars

A burn can develop after tissue becomes damaged as a result of excessive sun exposure, radiation, or contact with flames, electricity, or chemicals. Not only are burns incredibly painful, but they can also cause raised, thick scars to form after the wound has finished healing. These types of scars often reduce mobility and impact self-esteem because of their appearance. 

It’s important to remember that not all burns will lead to scarring. According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, burns that heal in less than two weeks are at least risk for scarring, while burns that take longer than three weeks to heal have a higher risk. That said, it can be challenging to prevent scars caused by major burns, which are classified as deep and larger than three inches. However, there are ways to treat major burns when they arise. This includes:

  • Covering the affected area with a damp bandage or cloth
  • Elevating the wound above heart level
  • Not submerging severe burns in water since it can cause hypothermia

Treatment for minor burns, which are small (less than three inches) and result in redness or blisters, includes:

  • Rinsing the burned skin under cool or lukewarm water 
  • Not popping blisters
  • Applying antibiotic creams 
  • Covering the burn with a sterile covering like gauze or bandage 

Regardless of whether you have a severe or minor burn, it’s important to administer treatment as soon as possible. Not doing so can increase your chance of developing an infection and visible scarring. Keep a close eye on burn scars as the area heals to ensure that it’s healing properly. If you notice your burn becoming worse instead of better, get help from a healthcare professional right away.

Scar Prevention: FAQs

Is scarring preventable?

In some cases, scarring isn’t 100% preventable. However, there are ways to hinder the formation of scars and make them less visible, such as:

  • Cleaning the wound 
  • Keeping the affected area moist and covered 
  • Reducing friction and movement 
  • Limiting contact with the wound

How do you prevent scarring?

To prevent scarring, make sure to follow the tips outlined in this article. You can also use embrace® silicone gel sheets on wounds that are less than six months old and are scab-free to minimize the appearance of thick, dark scars.

Do antibiotic ointments prevent scarring?

The American Academy of Family Physicians states that antibiotic ointment can help wounds heal faster and reduce scarring. They also note that you can prevent scarring and recover without it. 

Should you let a scar breathe?

One of the best ways to prevent scarring is to keep wounds moist and covered with a sterile dressing. This is because letting a wound breathe can dry the area, resulting in pain and inflammation. 

Final Notes

While there are many ways to prevent and minimize the visibility of scars, remember that healing takes time. Be patient during the healing process and ensure you’re keeping wounds clean, covered, and moist. You also want to limit your movements if your wound is an area susceptible to re-breaking and avoid irritating the affected area by minimizing your contact with the scar.

Whether you just had a tummy tuck or breast lift, embrace® can help you curb dark, thick, and raised surgical scars if they’re less than six months old and don’t have a scab. Our one-of-a-kind assortment of scar treatments reduces tension and will keep the area hydrated for a smooth, flatter, and softer finish. We also carry treatments for stretch marks to help you improve their appearance. 

If you’re interested in learning how embrace® can work for you, use our personalized treatment tool today.