Easy Self-Care for Your Scars
Proper care can help wounds heal with less scarring and once the wound has closed, you can take steps to help improve how a scar looks or feels.
TAKING CARE OF A SCAR
It is important to remember that a wound does not become a scar until the skin has completely healed. Until that point it is essential to look after your scar. A clean, warm, moist environment should be maintained and movement should be restricted in order not to place tension on the wound or surgery scar.
Four important factors, which are shown below, should be respected to achieve the best scar outcome. Additionally, consultation should be sought from your healthcare professional should you have any concerns.
Scars, in particular new scars, should not be exposed to UV light and extreme temperatures (intense sunshine, sunbeds, saunas and extreme cold).
Scars can be particularly sensitive to chemical ingredients such as those contained in detergents, perfumes, herbal or botanical extracts.
Tight clothing should also be avoided, to prevent irritation and further injuring the scar tissue.
Exercises or activities that cause tension on your scar should be avoided so your scar may heal without further disruption.
Once you have a scar, it will not go away completely. However, proper care can help wounds heal with less scarring. And once the wound has closed, you can take steps to help improve how a scar looks or feels.
We recommend this 2 step process which commences after all wounds have healed, generally at the 2 week mark for most surgeries although some may be slower to heal. As always, consult with your doctor for clearance prior to starting this management.
There is a lot of evidence that pressure applied to early wounds results in flatter, less pink scars. Scars can take 12 months or more after surgery to remodel and early pressure application can encourage scars to remodel in a desired fashion.
What should you use for scar massage?
This should be applied with firm pressure enough that the scar and the skin around it blanches due to that pressure. Pressure should be applied in circular motions along the scar.
Just gently applying the moisturizer to the scar will make the area feel nicer as it will be well hydrated but perhaps not aid in remodelling the scar.
How long should you spend?
A few minutes should be spent on every few centimetres of your scar, with pressure becoming firmer as the wound matures weeks from surgery.
How often should it be done?
In general the more often it is done the better, but most people manage to do it twice daily and this is a good frequency for most scars.
What else do I need to do?
- After massaging you can wipe the skin dry and then apply silicone (see below)
- You should also keep early scars, flaps and grafts out of direct sun as these can pigment the scar causing it to become darker.
- If you are not keen on using silicone, there is evidence that taping of scars can also improve outcomes, probably from ongoing sustained gentle pressure.
There is a lot of evidence to show that scarring is improved through the use of silicone. In fact this is probably the only product that has solid evidence in many trials to show its beneficial effect for scarring and has been used for over 30 years.
That’s why silicone is the second step of the scar management process after scar massage for the best results. It is definitely recommended for any scars that are visible, for example those on the face and neck.
What should you use for silicone therapy?
- This is an adhesive sheet which can be cut to the size of the scar
- A particular piece of silicone can be applied, removed and reapplied for 2-4 weeks meaning that a large sheet can last for a long time.
- It does however become less sticky with reapplication and may be secured with micropore tape to the scar.
- Sheets or strips are probably best for hidden scars on flat surfaces.
- Refer to “The Best At-Home Products” for our recommended gel strips/sheets.
How to Use it:
- After scar massage is performed in the morning, the skin is wiped dry.
- A drop of silicone gel is smeared which dries as a clear film, or silicone sheet with micropore tape applied.
- If using silicone gel it can then be covered by sun block or cosmetics (the first layer must be silicone however).
- In the evening the silicone is removed (if this was a gel, by washing the site).
- The process of scar massage is repeated, skin wiped dry and then the silicone reapplied before going to sleep.
How often should it be done?
- In general both step 1 of scar massage and step 2 of silicone gel or sheet application should be done twice daily.
- It is important that the silicone is in contact with the skin for most of the day (ie. Over 20 hours per day).
Learn more about . . .
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.
• Pay attention to your skin. Talk to a doctor early about acne plus other conditions and diseases that can damage the skin.
• Follow your doctor’s instructions for caring for your skin, wounds and scars. Ask questions about how to use products and medicines, and use them the right way every time.
• Learn how to care for scabs, acne pimples and similar skin conditions. Do not pick scabs or squeeze pimples, because this can cause scarring.
• Learn about your risk for getting different types of scars. Some types might be common among members of your family.
• Understand how wounds heal, so you will know when your skin is most at risk for scarring or re-injury.
• Protect healing skin and scars by using skin products with sunscreen and onion extract.
If you would like to improve the look of a scar or if a scar limits your ability to move because of pain or tight skin, talk to your doctor about all your options for care and treatment.