Scars are a normal part of the wound healing process, and many scars will start to fade on their own after a few years. However, for cosmetic reasons, some people may wish to fade their scars more quickly.
The often raised skin discoloration forms from excess collagen and skin cell production that happens as your body tries to effectively heal a wound. While most people are susceptible to scarring, some people may find they scar more easily than others. Your skin type, thickness, and texture all affect how easily you scar after an injury. Some scar types are even attributed to genetics.
If you’re curious about how to remove scars, you first need to consider the type of scars that you have. Here are the four main types of scars that can appear on your skin and the best ways to heal each type.
Contracture Scars: Burn Scars
Contracture scars are most often caused by burns. These painful scars cause the skin to become tight (or contract) and can impact the muscles and nerves beneath the skin to limit movement of the affected body part.
There are a few things you can try at home to reduce the appearance of a burn scar. Start with applying a silicone gel. This can help reduce the size, stiffness, and redness of the burn mark. Then, protect the area from sun exposure to prevent it from becoming darker or irritated. Keep the scar and the skin around it moisturized, but avoid using vitamin A and vitamin E products as they can actually make scars appear darker.
If at-home remedies aren’t working, talk to your doctor about professional options to reduce scar tissue. This includes:
- Steroid injections to reduce the pain and size of the scar
- Laser treatments which can reduce redness, pain, and stiffness
- Surgery to reduce scar tissue and improve skin movement
Hypertrophic Scars: Scars From Cuts or Surgeries
Hypertrophic scars are caused by tension that forms in the skin around a healing wound. They are thick, raised, and often red. While it can take years for hypertrophic scars to heal, they will become flatter and paler over time.
If you want to try to speed up the healing process for these types of scars, you can try a few things at home.
- Silicone Sheets: These can be applied to the skin as soon as it heals, and are considered a first-line treatment for hypertrophic scars. Wearing the sheet over the scar for 12 to 24 hours a day for two to three months may reduce your scar’s size and color.
- Pressure Massage: Use bandages or tape to apply pressure to the affected area and massage it to weaken scar tissue. Over time, this may help improve its appearance.
If these methods aren’t working, you can talk to your doctor about other treatment options like steroid shots, laser treatments, and cryotherapy, which is where a doctor or dermatologist uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the scar tissue to help flatten it.
Acne scars are left behind by breakouts and are more common for people who have cystic acne or frequently pick pimples. How do you get rid of acne scars naturally? Like most scars, acne scars will fade over time, but there are a few things you can try to help them heal faster.
- Microneedling: For this process, a professional makes tiny wounds in the skin that forces it to produce new healthy collagen and elastin, which can help reform the skin.
- Peels: Gentle chemical exfoliation can reduce the appearance of acne scars. You can have a peel professionally done, and there are also plenty of at-home options.
- Retinol: Vitamin A can reduce hyperpigmentation associated with acne and help with inflammation.
Keloids are raised buildups of scar tissue on the skin that usually form after a wound, puncture, burn, or blemish. Some people are more susceptible to keloids than others. They are much more challenging to get rid of than other types of scars. You may be able to reduce the appearance of keloids with:
- Laser treatments
- Steroid shots
- Radiation treatment
Because keloids are difficult to treat, it’s better to try to prevent them. If you are prone to keloids, you may want to avoid tattoos or piercings. If you are getting surgery, let the doctor know you are prone to keloids so that they can assist in helping prevent them.
While some scars are unavoidable, preventing them from forming while a wound is healing is much easier than trying to get rid of scars once they’ve already formed. Here are a few of the best ways to reduce your chances of scarring after an injury.
- Keep it clean: Whether from a cut or acne, cleaning the area daily - even with just mild soap and water can help prevent infections and enable the skin to heal faster.
- Avoid dryness: Dry skin can make scarring worse. To help reduce scar formation, create a moist environment by applying a cream to the area around the wound (avoid getting any lotion or cream in the open cut). Nacach’s Refreshing Cream is a great moisturizing lotion that contains natural tea tree oil and menthol, which are known for their antiseptic and decongestant properties, respectively.
- Have stitches removed on time: Keeping stitches in a wound for too long or taking them out too early can negatively affect healing.
- Use sun protection: Just as the sun’s UV rays can darken the rest of your skin, sun exposure can also make your scars appear darker or more prominent. Avoid placing your wound in direct sunlight while it is healing. Use sunscreen and sun-protective clothing while you are outdoors.
- Do your best to prevent scabbing: Hard scabs make scars more likely to form. To prevent scabbing, use plain petroleum jelly to cover the wound. Additionally, avoid picking at any scabs that do form to avoid making them worse.
Scars are a natural part of the healing process. They will heal on their own over time, but if you want to speed up the healing process, there are several options you can try.