Scars are bad enough, but to make them worse through improper care is simply counterproductive. Age, skin type, pigmentation and health issues can all affect the severity of scarring. But how you care for a wound also has a major impact.
Here is a look at different types of scars and what you should avoid so you don’t make them worse.
Types of Scars
According to Web MD, there are four types of scars. Contracture Scars are the result of burns and may affect muscles and nerves. Hypertrophic Scars are red and raised above the surrounding skin. Acne scars, probably the most common, are often pitted (sunken) or angular. Keloid scars are raised scars that result from an overly aggressive healing process and are more common among people with darker skin tones.
As a general rule for caring for all minor wounds, clean the wound and cover it with a bandage. After bleeding has stopped, the bandage can be removed to expose the wound to air. This helps healing and reduces your chances of scarring. With so many potential ways to get hurt that could leave a scar, and more than one kind of scar possible, knowing how to treat a wound or help a scar fade is a real challenge. Here is a look at what not to do.
Leaving It Dirty
If you fall on a hike, it may be difficult to thoroughly clean a wound. But the longer the dirt stays in it, the greater the chance of bacteria causing infection, which leads to scarring. With infection, bacteria and fungi lead to toxins and metabolic byproducts that harm skin tissue. The more tissue that is destroyed, the larger the scar. Whenever possible, rinse the wound thoroughly with clean water to help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
Getting Too Much Sun
This is a problem both in the early stages of wound care and later, after it has started healing but the skin is still new—and very delicate. The cells in healing skin can be damaged by UV Rays and result in more prominent scarring.
Exposure to UV Rays may also cause skin discoloration, called hyperpigmentation, making the scarred area more prominent.
The Wrong Remedies
According to Fitness Magazine, hydrogen peroxide is a common home remedy for treating small wounds that can actually cause scarring. Its bubbling action can actually damage new cells that are trying to grow.
Vitamin E was long touted as a remedy that would help reduce scarring, either when taken internally or spread on the skin in the form of an ointment or cream. The reality is that it can actually impair healing. It can also cause an allergic reaction when applied topically. Allergies lead to inflammation, which interferes with the healing process. The last thing a healing wound needs is more inflammation. Vitamin E is a vital nutrient, but it won’t help your scars heal faster. In fact, it could be doing more harm than good.
Too Much Movement
If your scar is on a joint, each time you move it the area around the scar stretches. Over time this may result in a wider, more prominent scar. If you have a scar on your knuckle, knee or elbow, try to move it as little as possible during the early period of wound healing. This gives the new skin a chance to mature before it has to endure the stresses of being stretched with frequent motion.
Smoking has a direct negative effect on blood flow throughout the body, which in turn reduces circulation to your injury. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your skin, and thus to the wound area, helping it heal. When you smoke, your body’s basic ability to deliver these needed elements to the wound site is suppressed and the probability of the wound healing poorly and leaving a scar is increased.
No one likes scars, though almost all of us has at least one. By taking care of wounds quickly and properly and avoiding activities and treatments that make them worse, we can effectively minimize the size and intensity of resulting scars.