Scar Treatment

Scar Care 101: How to Treat Your Scars

5 min read

A scar changes a little every day – the sooner you start treating it; the more effective the healing. The answer to how to reduce the visibility of scars starts at understanding why our bodies create them in the first place. Scars are a common result of how our skin heals after an injury such as mild burn, wound or acne.

What are scars and what causes them?

A scar is the body’s natural way of healing and replacing lost or damaged skin.
Human skin is composed of three main layers: the outermost called the epidermis, the mid layer called the dermis and the innermost layer named hypodermis or subcutis [1]. In case of skin injury, a scar will form as the natural consequence of the healing process and wound closure.

The layers of the skin: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue
The layers of the skin: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue

Skin wound closure follows 3 steps: inflammation, proliferation and remodeling. Scar formation occurs during the remodeling phase that takes place after about 2 to 3 weeks when the wound is completely closed. During this remodeling process, collagen fibers will be recruited to the site of the injury, forming a scar that will feel and look different than the surrounding tissue. Usually, collagen is good for your skin but the excessive amount of disorganized collagen, in addition to the lack of elastic fibers, is the reason for scar formation [1]. Over the counter products such as Mederma® scar treatment range possess moisturizing properties that limit water loss and, consequently, scar formation.


Skin conditions that seem minor, such as acne, may injure your dermis and cause scaring. The sooner you start treating them, the more effective the treatment.

What are the types of scars?

There are 5 different types of scars:

  • Normal scars: These scars occur when the wound heals under normal circumstances. These scars are flat and pale and will gradually fade over time.

  • Keloid scars: These scars are raised and larger than usual due to excessive collagen production on the site of the wound and may also extend beyond the site of injury. The causes are not fully understood but genetics may be involved and they are more common in darker skin types [2]. They can be itchy and painful.

  • Hypertrophic scars: These are also due to an excessive production of collagen but compared to keloids, hypertrophic scars contain less collagen. They are raised scars and are potentially itchy and painful. Unlike keloids they stay within the boundaries of the injury.

  • Atrophic scars: These are depressed scars and are typical consequences of severe acne. These scars occur when too little collagen is produced and have a sunken appearance resulting from the loss of supporting tissue [3,4].

  • Contracture scars: These scars result from hypertrophic scars over joints. They tend to develop because of the immobilization of the joint during wound healing and are particularly disabling and painful due to the limited joint mobility [5].

How can you treat a scar?

Once formed, it’s hard to get rid of the scars, however, solutions exist to improve their appearance and make them fade away. Depending of the size and depth of your scar some treatments might be more effective than others.

Topical treatments: many topical treatments are available, especially for light scars, and include easy-to-access, over-the-counter creams and solutions containing FDA-approved ingredients such as :

  • Silicone that has been shown to be effective in hypertrophic scar prevention [3]
  • Allantoin, also known to improve scar appearance [6].
  • Dimethicone, a skin protectant commonly found in skin moisturizer especially in acne treatment [7].
  • Dimethicone and Allantoin are two active ingredients that you will find in Mederma® Scar treatment products.

Topical treatment may also include natural extracts to provide appearance/cosmetic effects. Those natural extracts include :

  • Onion extract
  • Green tea
  • Aloe Vera

Other topical treatments contain pharmaceutical compounds and therefore are prescription only medicines. These include:

  • Imiquimod (an immune response modifier)
  • mitomycin C (an antibiotic with antitumor activity)

These topical treatments have shown some effectiveness in improving the appearance and feel of scars [8]. The sooner you start treating your scar, the more effective these treatments. The course of these treatments spans several months, but with patience and perseverance, your efforts will likely pay off.

For larger or more visible scars, you’ll probably need a more intense treatment that can only be done by a healthcare professional. These treatments are more invasive and include dermabrasion, laser treatment, micro needling, cryotherapy and filler therapy. They are not at-home treatments and require an expert opinion, so before starting any of these treatment, please choose your dermatologist carefully.

How to prevent scars?

You cannot avoid all scars, but you can do many things to improve how a scar looks. You can also prevent scars by taking steps to prevent injuries and other damage to your skin. Some injuries will make a good story and you might even be proud of some of your scars but for others, you may want them to fade away.

Taking good care of a skin injury helps a lot in preventing scar formation, so it is important to always keep the wound moist and clean [9]. For acne pimples, refrain from squeezing, popping or picking them. In case of a cut, if the wound is deep or serious please go see your doctor immediately as you may require stitches for your injury to heal properly.

Once the wound has healed, keeping your scar moisturized is important. It is also important to keep the scar protected from the sun after healing, to avoid additional damages due to UVA and B [9].

In short, skin injuries are nearly inevitable but taking good care of your injuries and starting early treatment can help reduce scar formation. Mederma® has a range of scar treatment products for adults and kids that have clinically shown to improve the overall appearance, color and texture of scars [10,11].

Mederma® SPF UNIQUE TRIPLE ACTION FORMULA penetrates beneath the surface of the skin to help:

  • Protect from harmful UVA/B exposure
  • Retain moisture, and
  • Collagen production

References

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