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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Risk Factors for Scarring

Risk Factors for Scarring

Damage to the skin, whether from an incision or wound, results in a risk for scarring. Scar tissue forms as the natural part of the skin’s healing process, and when the scar tissue remains rather than being replaced by normal skin cells you are left with a scar. There are several risk factors for scarring, some of which you can moderate and others you cannot.

Age

The very young heal better, which results in a better outcome for their scars. When you are young and prone to growth spurts, your body creates new collagen and skin everywhere in your body, including the areas where you have scars. Your body is always synthesizing new collagen and destroying old collagen that is less functional and old. That’s why some scars may have ‘disappeared’ over the years. Your body may have broken down some of the collagen in the scar and replaced it with new collagen. Additionally, the elderly also heal better, so if your age is anywhere in between, you have a greater risk of having issues with your scars.

Genetic Factors

Everyone heals differently from wounds based upon his or her genes. Therefore, if your family tends to scar easily, then you have a greater risk of forming scars as well. Certain genetic influences due to your race can also alter your risk factor for scarring. For example, those with dark skin have a higher risk of forming hypertrophic or keloid scars, which are raised scars. Additionally, those with fair skin typically have more prominent scarring than those with darker skin.

Size and Depth of the Wound

Deep, uneven wounds that are not treated properly will have larger, more prominent scars than small, insignificant wounds to the skin, such as a paper cut. The greater the trauma to the skin, the longer it takes to heal, which also increases the chance of scarring. When you undergo surgery, you want to have as small an incision as possible, and you want to ensure that the two pieces of skin are glued, stapled, or sutured back together with the correct lineup to reduce the amount of scarring.

Read: What Affects Wound Healing?

Your General Health and Wellbeing

If you are generally healthy, then your healing system will work better, reducing the amount of scarring. Alternatively, if you have a chronic illness, including an immune deficiency or diabetes, it can negatively affect the healing process, increasing your risk of scars. Certain lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking slow down the healing process. You also want to eat a healthy and nutritious diet full of vitamins and minerals to promote healing. Drinking lots of water is also important for your overall health. You also need adequate sleep and rest.

Read: How Does Smoking Affect Scar Healing?

Taking Care of the Wound

Once the skin has been damaged, you need to take care not to re-injure it before it has a chance to heal. If the incision or wound area reopens, then it will have to work extra hard to completely heal, increasing the chance of scar tissue forming. You also want to treat the wound carefully, including preventing any infection.

Although you cannot change your genes or your age, you can eat well, sleep, hydrate, and take care of your wound to help reduce any scarring. Any action you take to promote proper wound healing reduces the risk of excessive scar tissue forming and resulting in a prominent scar.

Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us 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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How to Get Rid of Purple Scars

How to Get Rid of Purple Scars

When the skin has experienced trauma due to injury or surgery, the healing process produces scar tissue, which usually creates a visible scar. Although most scars are initially red in color, many scars turn purple. This is very common in scars caused by burns, boils, and acne. The purple color can make the scar stand out even more, which can be embarrassing, especially if it is in a prominent location such as your face. Although the purple coloring can be a natural part of the scar maturation process, there are steps you can take to fade it.

Proper Wound Healing and Prevention

One way to reduce the abnormal purple pigmentation is to ensure that the wound heals properly. When you experience a skin injury, treat it right away. Clean it to reduce the risk of infection. Be sure to keep the wound covered and moist during the healing process. Use of an antibacterial cream can help to reduce infection while keeping the wound moist. Acne, too, can cause purple scarring so avoid causing more inflammation and avoid picking at it. (Read: Skin Care Tips for Acne Prone Skin)

Treat the Scar with the Right Ingredients

One of the best ingredients in a topical scar therapy is vitamin C, which helps the skin create normal collagen, an important component of healthy skin. It also helps fade the excess pigmentation seen in some scars. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports the body’s natural healing and fights free radicals that contribute to scarring by damaging the skin at a cellular level. Vitamin C also reduces the risk of inflammation and infection, which can also contribute to the abnormal purple color and other forms of hyperpigmention.

Another ingredient to look for in your scar cream is silicone, which helps to flatten and fade scars. Licorice root extract is also a powerful ingredient as it promotes healing while also lightening hyperpigmentation.

When to See a Doctor

Complete healing from any trauma to the skin can take time, which can be frustrating. However, if you find that your scar seems to be getting worse, see your doctor to make sure everything is healing properly. A doctor can also discuss other options for treating scars and hyperpigmentation, such as laser surgery or microdermabrasion.

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

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Do I Need a Nighttime Scar Treatment?

Do I Need a Nighttime Scar Treatment?

When dealing with minimizing a scar, whether from surgery, an accident, acne, or other injuries to the skin, many people wonder if they might need a nighttime scar treatment. There are many scar treatment creams on the market, and several promote themselves as special nighttime care. There is no reason to buy a special nighttime treatment cream. Instead, you should use a high-quality cream both day and night to reduce the appearance of your scars.

The Importance of Nighttime Care

It is important to treat your scar at night for several reasons. First, the skin loses the most amount of moisture at night, and moisture is essential to healing scars. Therefore, you want to use a cream at night to keep the area moist. Additionally, the body undergoes most of its healing process during sleep. By using a cream that promotes the skin’s natural healing processes at night, you can take advantage of the time the body is naturally relaxing, restoring, and healing itself.

While it is important to treat your scars at night, there is no reason to have a separate cream to do so. There is no special ingredient that only works at night. Instead, you just have to use the same quality ingredients you use during the day, but apply it at night before bed.

The Best Ingredients for Treating Scars

There are many scar treatment creams available on the market, and many include ingredients that don’t help. Worse yet, some ingredients can do more harm than good. For example, vitamin E is a popular ingredient for skin care, but studies have shown that up to 1/3rd of users develop contact dermatitis. This means the skin can turn red, itchy and flaky. Kojic acid is a popular lightener, but it can lead to hormonal disruption and skin sensitivity. Hydroquinone is another popular ingredient for treating dark scars, but it can actually be toxic and has been shown to have carcinogenic effects. For this reason many countries have banned use of products containing certain amounts of hydroquinone.

The best ingredients to use in a scar treatment cream are stable forms of vitamin C and natural pigment lighteners like licorice extract. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights against damaging free radicals, promotes skin collagen growth, and helps the skin to properly heal, all of which help reduce scarring. Licorice is a natural skin lightener that also protects the skin. The combination of the vitamin C and licorice extract can create a powerful natural and soothing scar treatment.

Following the Right Scar Treatment Protocol

When you are working on healing a scar, you want to follow the best treatment protocol. You should apply the topical scar treatment at least twice a day. One of these times should be right before you go to sleep to ensure the area remains moist, as well as to promote the natural healing that occurs during sleep. Another important time to apply the cream is first thing in the morning. Most scars may never completely disappear. However, by using the right treatment you can greatly reduce the appearance of your scars.

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

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