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.

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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.

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Can You Reduce the Size of Acne Scars?

Can You Reduce the Size of Acne Scars?

After battling acne to finally get it under control, many people are left with prominent scars that continue to mar their complexion. If this is the case, then you are looking for ways to reduce the size and appearance of your acne scars. There are several different types of acne scars, and the type of scarring you have may affect the type of treatment most effective for your situation. However, most acne scars can be minimized and faded.

The Different Types of Acne Scars

The severity of your acne and how you treated — or did not treat — any outbreaks affects the type of scarring with which you are left. One of the most common types of acne scarring is known as ice pick scars, which are deep scarring that creates a pitted look in the skin. They are formed due to cysts or inflammation that affects several layers of skin. A similar type of scarring is known as boxcar scars, which are wider than ice pick scars. You may also have scarring known as rolling scars, which creates waves under otherwise normal skin due to fibrous bands of tissue growing between the skin and underlying tissue. Lastly, you may have keloid or hypertrophic scars, which are large, unsightly raised scars.

You might also have other remaining effects from your acne in the form of discoloration of the skin, which are not technically scars but do create problems. This could be either hyperpigmentation, where the scars have excess pigmentation and will look like freckles or blotches on the skin, or hypopigmentation, where there will be no pigment, leaving the mark as white. The skin may also remain red due to damage to the small capillaries in the skin.

How to Reduce the Size of Acne Scars

You can reduce the size of your acne scars, but the best treatment differs based upon the type of acne scarring you have. If you are left with discoloration such as red marks or dark spots after your acne is under control, then you can benefit from using a scar fading cream that helps your skin resume normal pigment production. Smaller and lighter scars can also benefit from scar treatment creams. You want to be sure to use ingredients that are natural and will help the skin’s own natural healing process, including licorice root extract, which lightens any dark spots, and vitamin C, which helps to rebuild collagen and normalize skin growth.

If you have more prominent scars, then you may need to undergo a more invasive skin care treatment, such as laser surgery, subcision, punch excision, grafting, dermabrasion, or dermal fillers. Scar reduction cream can also work on many scars, including hypertrophic scars, especially if it includes silicone as one of the ingredients. Scar treatment creams can only reduce the size and appearance of scars, but they usually do not completely eliminate very prominent scarring. One option that is becoming very popular among those with hypopigmented acne scars, is having the skin tattooed the same color as your flesh so as to camoflauge the scar. You can discuss the different types of treatment, especially the more invasive treatments, with your dermatologist or doctor to find the best solution for your unique situation.

Have a question about your acne scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help!

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Should I See a Dermatologist About My Scars?

Should I See a Dermatologist About My Scars?

When you have a prominent and unsightly scar, especially in a location not easily hidden by clothing, you likely want to work on minimizing its appearance. There are many different scar treatment options, and the most effective for you will depend on the type and severity of scarring from which you suffer. There are many scar treatment options that do not require any doctor’s intervention. However, there are times where seeing a dermatologist about your scars is the best way to proceed. Therefore, it is beneficial to know when you should see a dermatologist about your scars.

What Does a Dermatologist Do?

Dermatologists are specialized doctors who work on conditions affecting the skin, including acne, scarring, eczema, and more. Therefore, they are experts in solutions for reducing the appearance of scars, especially prominent ones such as keloid scars. They also offer more invasive procedures to remove scars, including laser surgery, dermabrasion, grafting, and more. However, not all scars require the assistance of a dermatologist to treat.

What Type of Scars Require a Dermatologist?

Large, prominent, and raised scars, especially keloid scars, will most likely not find any help from a scar treatment cream. Instead, you will need to see a dermatologist to discuss other scar treatment options. Any injury to the skin that harmed many layers of the skin tissue, such as a third degree burn, or did not heal correctly typically forms a larger and more prominent scar that will need more advanced treatment options to reduce the appearance of the scars. Certain acne scars, including ice pick scars, rolling scars, and boxcar scars also often require more invasive treatments offered by dermatologists.

When Don’t You Need to See a Dermatologist?

Any time you have scarring or other skin conditions about which you have a question, you can typically benefit from the expertise of a dermatologist. However, for less prominent scars, you do not have to see a dermatologist for help. These include scars formed by injury to the skin that only affects the top layers of skin or from wounds that healed correctly, such as occur after surgery or with some cases of acne. Those scars that have not caused much damage to the collagen or to deeper layers of skin can typically be reduced by over the counter scar treatment creams. You can also use many of these scar reduction creams for pigmentation problems, such as hyperpigmentation, also known as dark spots. For hypopigmentation (aka white scars) tattooing a white scar flesh-colored is also an option. Over the counter creams are beneficial, but they do take time to work. If you do not see any improvement in the appearance of your scar or discoloration after you have been using the cream for a few months, then you should see a dermatologist for help.

A dermatologist can be your partner and best friend when it comes to ensuring you have smooth and flawless skin, especially when you are working to reduce the appearance of any scarring. They not only will be able to offer you help with the invasive procedures, but they can also provide expert advice on the best ingredients for an effective scar treatment cream.

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

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How to Get Rid of Ice Pick Scars

How to Get Rid of Ice Pick Scars

Severe cases of acne not only cause problems during breakouts, but they can also leave lifelong reminders in the form of scarring. One common type of acne scar is known as ice pick scars, which caused depressions in the skin. Because this type of scarring affects deeper layers of skin, you often have to treat it with more aggressive scar treatment measures.

Read: What Are the Different Types of Acne Scars?

What Causes Ice Pick Scars?

Ice pick scars typically form after an infected blackhead or whitehead becomes excessively irritated and inflamed. This infection can lead to pressure on the skin that causes further inflammation and damage to the skin, especially if it remains untreated. This can lead to the formation of nodules or cysts, which is a more serious type of acne that affects the collagen in the skin. Because the collagen and fibrin is damaged, the regular structure of the skin breaks down, causing the scar tissue in the area to sink into the skin.

What are the Best Ways to Get Rid of Ice Pick Scars?

Because of the nature of ice pick scars, you typically have to undergo more aggressive treatments rather than relying upon an over the counter treatment cream. You should talk with your dermatologist about the best options for treatment. Many doctors will use a treatment known as punch excision, which removes the scar from the skin, allowing the collagen to form correctly when the skin heals. It may be used in conjunction with other treatments. Other common treatments for ice pick scars include laser treatments, dermabrasion, and chemical peels.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatments are a common form of aggressive treatment for all types of acne scars, including ice pick scars. During a laser treatment, your doctor will remove the top layer of skin, which is the most damaged. Depending on the severity of the scarring, you may have to undergo several treatments. There are three different types of laser treatment: CO2, YAG, and fractional laser. The YAG laser treatment promotes the new growth of skin and often has reduced side effects and healing time. Fractional laser is gentler, so it typically is used for ice pick scars that are not as severe.

Other Ways to Remove the Top Layer of Skin

There are other ways to remove the top layer of skin to promote healing, including dermabrasion and a chemical peel. Dermabrasion uses an abrasive tool that scrapes off the damaged skin on top, allowing the healthier skin underneath to come to the surface. A chemical peel works in a similar manner by removing the top layer of skin but uses acids rather than an abrasive tool. You may have red and inflamed skin for a few days to a week after these treatments, and you may have to do it more than once to get the effect you want.

It is possible to reduce the appearance of your acne scars, including your ice pick scars. With the help of your doctor, you can decide which aggressive treatment will work best for you. If you have less severe scarring, you can try a topical acne scar treatment to see if it works before using a more aggressive form of treatment.

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

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