Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

Do Over the Counter Scar Treatments Really Work?

There are so many different types of over the counter scar treatments that it can be difficult to know whether or not they actually work. The ingredients of the treatments play a significant role in their effectiveness. The right ingredients, especially in the right combination, will facilitate the natural healing process, reducing the appearance of the scar, while other ingredients may not work, or even cause more damage.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is commonly found in skin care ingredients since it is a powerful antioxidant that promotes beautiful skin. However, there is no real evidence that using vitamin E actually improves the scar. Instead, the benefits are most likely due to continued moistening of the area, rather than the infusion of the vitamin. Many people also develop contact dermatitis from vitamin E, so it is another ingredient to avoid.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant, and it plays an important role in the body’s healthy immune response, which includes wound healing. Furthermore, it is essential for proper formation of collagen and elastin in skin, which helps build healthy skin cells, rather than damaged scar tissue, after the skin is injured. Vitamin C also fades the hyperpigmentation that can come with scarring. Therefore, it is an effective and safe ingredient in an over the counter scar treatment.

Silicone

Silicone is another ingredient that has been shown in studies to aid in the treatment of scars, while not promoting any danger. It reduces any redness, pain and itching associated with the scarring, while also improving the elasticity of the skin.

Aloe Vera

Another beneficial, and effective, ingredient for over the counter scar treatment creams is aloe vera. This plant has long been used in cosmetics and first aid creams due to its moisturizing and healing effects. It protects the wound while also promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the collagen structure.

Hydroquinone

Many popular over the counter scar treatment creams contain hydroquinone, and it has a reputation for effectively lightening scars. However, it is a very dangerous ingredient that has been banned in several countries. Even in the smaller doses found in over the counter creams, it can lead to problems such as impaired wound healing, irritation, nail discoloration, and ochronosis (permanent skin darkening).

Kojic Acid

Another seemingly effective scar treatment ingredient that is commonly found in over the counter creams is kojic acid. Like hydroquinone, it may work, but the negative effects are not worth its lightening abilities. Studies have found that prolonged use leads to more sensitive skin and contact dermatitis. It also is not effective at improving the appearance of scars, beyond lightening the skin color.

When OTC Treatments Do Not Work

If you have a keloid, indented scar, or certain other scars, then over the counter treatments will not work. These scars require more invasive treatments, such as laser therapy, collagen injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or microneedling. If you are unsure about the best form of treatment for your scar, then you should discuss it with your dermatologist.

When looking for an effective over the counter scar treatment, you should look for all natural ingredients that do not include preservatives or fragrances, as this could also aggravate the skin. You do not want to use any harsh ingredients; instead, you want to support your skin’s natural healing process, which will reduce the appearance of any scars.

Have a question about your scar or a particular ingredient? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!

Please follow and like us:
Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

Scars Heal Differently. Here’s Why

After the skin becomes injured, scar tissue forms as a part of the natural healing process. This tissue looks and feels different than normal skin tissue because there is excess collagen produced. Different scars also appear different and heal differently based upon the amount of collagen produced during the healing process. Lifestyle, genetics, age, depth and size of the injury, the location, and the treatment of the wound all affect how the scar heals.

Read: Scar Tissue is Different Than Normal Tissue 

Genetic and Lifestyle Influences on Scar Healing

As with any body function, your genetics, which include your ethnicity and gender, influence how your body heals from injury, which is why each person scars differently. These genetic influences cannot be changed, but they can be mitigated through lifestyle changes and certain treatments. Your age will affect scarring as well, because your ability to regenerate cells and heal is reduced.

Lifestyle factors, including exercising, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet, influence your skin’s natural healing process as well. To heal properly, you need to be strong and healthy. Your skin also needs certain nutrients that it can get from food, especially vitamin C and E. You skin also needs plenty of moisture to heal correctly, which is why keeping your scar moisturized is vital. You should also keep active, as long as it does not disturb your wound and your doctor approves it, to promote healing.

The Affect of Wound Treatment

Because scars are caused by injury to the skin, the element that has the greatest influence on its healing process is the treatment of the wound. When you experience a deep cut, including an incision from surgery, the skin needs to be aligned correctly when it is glued, stapled, or stitched back together, or else it will have a larger scar. Your scar will look different whether you have staples, glue, or stitches as well. If the injured skin is brought back together perfectly, then the chance of scarring is reduced, although you may still have a small, almost invisible line. You also want to allow the area to heal completely, and not reopen the wound or get it infected, as this will increase the chance of a larger scar.

How the Type of Scar Alters the Healing Process

There are different types of scars that affect the ability for the scar to heal over time. You may have a hypertrophic scar, acne scar, contracture scar, or keloid scars. Keloid scars are the most difficult to heal, because they are raised scars due to excess collagen that extend beyond the original injury. Contracture scars typically occur after a burn, and they often tighten the skin and can make it difficult to move. Hypertrophoic scars are also raised, similar to keloids, but remain within the area of the wound. Some of these different types of scars occur because of the type of wound, while others form due to genetics, the environment, or other factors.

Read: Scar Healing Time

There is no real way to predict how a scar will heal, as it is highly influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle factors, and treatment. Regardless of the type of scar, you can help it heal by taking care of the wound, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water.

Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!

Please follow and like us:
Is There Scarring After Rhinoplasty?

Is There Scarring After Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is a type of plastic surgery performed on the nose to reconstruct or enhance its shape, or improve nasal breathing. It can be used for cosmetic reasons or to repair the nose after trauma or congenital deformity. Some of the reasons for a medically necessary rhinoplasty include surgery for nasal trauma, a congenital defect, and breathing difficulties. Rhinoplasty is a common surgery, and many patients wonder if they will have lasting scars.

What is the Difference Between Open and Closed Rhinoplasty?

There are two types of rhinoplasty – open and closed. The defining feature between the surgeries is the incision approach. Open rhinoplasty involves a potentially visible incision on the columella (the fleshy, exterior-end of the septum of the nose between the lip and tip of the nose). There may be additional incisions inside the nose for the nasal correction. The incisions used a closed rhinoplasty are all inside the nose, so there is no scar created on the columella.

Closed rhinoplasty has a few benefits over the open surgery. There is usually reduced post-operative swelling (edema), less visible scarring, less risk of excessive reduction of the nasal-tip support, less inadvertent damage done to the nose, and less time needed for complete healing. However, open rhinoplasty provides the surgeon with a better view of the cartilage in the nose. The surgeon will usually also be able to better manipulate and alter the shape. Whether a patient receives open or closed rhinoplasty will depend on the reasons the surgery, the anatomy of the nose and surgeon preference.

Will There be Scarring?

Most surgery creates some type of scarring, and rhinoplasty is no different. The good news is that in most cases, an uncomplicated surgery will lead to minimal visible scarring. Since a scar is created on the columella, there is far more potential for visible scarring with open rhinoplasty than with closed rhinoplasty. However, even in open rhinoplasty, the incision is typically very small and tends to heal well, making it a very small scar that most people will not notice.

Preventing and Treating Scars

Before you undergo rhinoplasty, discuss the after-surgery care and issues with your surgeon so you will be prepared. It may take a few weeks for the skin to heal and it might a year for the before the nose is completely healed. Proper post-op care is essential with any surgery so make sure you fully understand all the post-op instructions including how to best take care of your scars. After the incision is healed and your sutures have been removed, start using a topical scar treatment to reduce scarring as much as possible.

Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer!

Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!

Please follow and like us:
Do’s and Don’ts of Scar Prevention

Do’s and Don’ts of Scar Prevention

Scar tissue is a normal part of the skin’s healing process from any wound, including those caused by surgeries or accidents. Scars form because the collagen production works quickly after the skin has been wounded to mend the injury and protect the body from any further injury or infection. Since it goes through a more rapid healing process, the tissue does not have the exact same makeup of normal skin cells, which is why it looks different. (Read: Why Scar Tissue is Different from Normal Tissue.) Many variables influence the look of scars, including the size, depth and shape of the wound, as well as how much blood is able to visit the area during the healing process. Luckily, there are easy prevention methods to ensure that your injury or surgery does not end with a lifelong reminder in the form of a visible scar.

Do Get Stitches

Deep wounds, or cuts that can spread apart, heal faster and better when stitched by a professional doctor as soon as possible after the injury. Stitches minimize the wound area and make it easier for the body to heal the injury. This reduces the area of new skin forming, which minimizes the amount of scar tissue.

Do Protect the Wound

When you have a wound, you should keep it moist to prevent scabbing and allow the healing process to commence by applying a first aid cream like Neosporin. You should also keep it covered with a non-stick bandage to protect further injury and keep it from drying out. Once you see new skin forming, you can stop covering it with a bandage and begin applying your scar treatment.

Read: What Affects Wound Healing?

Do Massage the Scar

Gentle massage should start as soon as it’s tolerable, usually a couple of weeks after the skin has healed over. Massaging your scar breaks up the collagen and reduces the size of scar tissue forming; use the time when applying your scar treatment to massage the newly formed scar.

Read: How Do You Soften Scar Tissue?

Don’t be Impatient

When you wait for your injury or wound to heal, be patient. You should not pick at any scabs or use hydrogen peroxide. Although hydrogen peroxide provides beneficial first aid to the initial wound, subsequent use kills both good skin cells as well as bacteria making the wound more susceptible to infection. Instead, just allow the body to heal naturally. It takes 1-2 years for a scar to fully mature and there is no quick fix despite what you’ve heard.

Don’t Linger in the Sun

The damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun can interrupt the healing process, making it more likely that you will develop a scar. Additionally, UV rays discolor the scar tissue by stimulating pigment-producing cells. Skin is more vulnerable to discoloration when it is healing, so it is even more important to protect the area from the sun by covering it up with clothing or using sunscreen.

Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer!

Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!

Please follow and like us:
Scar Tissue After Surgery

Scar Tissue After Surgery

Scar tissue is a natural part of the body’s healing mechanism. When any part of the body receives an injury, it will work quickly to heal the injury. This repair process creates scar tissue. Scar tissue acts differently than normal tissue, and it may contain damaged cells, which is why it looks different than the tissue around it. Although most people think scars only affect the skin’s surface, scar tissue can also occur on any tissue in the body, including internal organs.

Although it is part of the healing process, scar tissue may end up causing problems, especially when it leads to adhesions. For most people, scar tissue causes most problems on the skin itself by leaving a life-long reminder of the surgery. By knowing what to expect after surgery, you can minimize the appearance of scars and other potential complications, including helping to reduce the time a scar takes to fade.

Scar Tissue on the Skin

Surgery typically includes an incision of the skin, usually extending through all the layers of the skin. Surgeons try to minimize the size of their incisions to reduce the amount of scar tissue that develops. The main factors determining the amount of scarring after surgery, beyond the skill level of the doctor, are age, race, genetic makeup, the size and depth of the incision, and the extent of the surgery. Initially, scar tissue will be pink, red or purple, due to the injury to the blood vessels and the inflammatory response that is part of the body’s reaction to any injury.

Over time, as the skin heals, scarring will fade and become closer to your skin’s natural pigmentation. However, many scars also turn white due to damage to the cells that control pigmentation. After surgery, the incision area will be sensitive and weaker than normal skin, so you should rest and avoid any movement or stress that could place too much stress on the healing incision.

What are Adhesions?

Although most people only focus on scar tissue after surgery on the skin, surgery can also cause internal scar tissue called adhesions. An adhesion is scar tissue that binds together two pieces of internal tissue or organs, even if they are not supposed to be connected. This distorts the normal internal anatomy, which can then cause problems.

The most common areas of adhesions are in the abdomen, heart and the pelvic area. Almost 93 percent of patients who undergo any type of pelvic or abdominal surgery end up with adhesions. Adhesions can be thin sheets of the tissue that may look similar to plastic wrap or strong, fibrous bands that can cause serious complications. Most adhesions are harmless and will go away on their own, but some adhesions can lead to complications and further problems.

How to Minimize the Appearance of Scars

Although doctors do everything they can to minimize any scar tissue, there are some actions you can take to prevent or minimize their appearance. Scars develop as part of the body’s natural healing processes. The faster and more efficiently the body heals, the reduced risk of scarring, or the faster it will take for the scar to go away. By avoiding smoking and drinking, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated, you will provide the body with the best foundation to heal properly. You should also practice proper wound care, which includes keeping your fresh scar covered and out of the sun, as well as following all your doctor’s instructions. It takes time for the skin to fully heal and for the scar to mature and look its best, often up to a year or even two. By taking appropriate care of your fresh scar and yourself, and using a good scar minimizing cream once the skin has healed, you’ll give your scar the best chance of fading.

Do you have a question about your scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help.

Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!

Please follow and like us: