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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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Whether you scraped your knee or cut yourself while cooking, cleaning the wound right away is essential. Here’s how to do so correctly:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Treatment for minor burns, which are small (less than three inches) and result in redness or blisters, includes:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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