Scars

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Are there any home remedies to reduce scarring?

Good wound care is important in preventing excessive scarring as well as speeding the healing process. Preventing infection can help prevent unnecessary inflammation which can increase the size of wounds resulting in larger, unsightly scars. It is important to remove crusts (scabs) from wounds gently with a washcloth and soap and water at least twice a day and to keep the wound moist by keeping it covered with petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin. Assuming the wound is healing normally, it would not be unreasonable to cover the wound site after it is covered by skin (epithelialized) with silicone rubber 24 hours a day for a month or so. There is medical evidence that this can diminish the thickness of scars. Proprietary products of this type can be purchased without a prescription. There is an over-the-counter product (Mederma) that can sometimes improve the appearance of scars in the short term (first one to two months). This product relies on an extract of onions! The judicious use of cosmetic makeup can effectively obscure many scars.

What is the prognosis of a scar?

Scars generally improve in appearance over the first year. So considerations for invasive treatments need to be prudently considered prior to that time. On the other hand, scarring usually involves tissue contraction, so that it is unlikely that scars that pull or twist other anatomical structures, producing unpleasant results, will improve. These should be treated sooner than later.

Can scarring be prevented?

Scarring is an integral part of the healing process. Assuming the wound does not become infected, physicians plan excisions to minimize the cosmetic defects produced by scars. This can be accomplished by orienting the wound in such a way so that it will not perturb other structures, so that the scar can be camouflaged by hiding in wrinkle lines or near other anatomical structures. It is also important to minimize the tension necessary to close the wound surgically.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/16/2015
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