Ask A Pharmacist

How To Get Rid of Scars

Our Customers Asked:

How do I get rid of scars? What’s the best way to fade scars?

Our Experts Answered:

Whether you’ve scraped your knee, burnt yourself while cooking or endured a deep, cystic pimple, healing yourself doesn’t only involve getting rid of the wound itself, but also dealing with the aftermath: scarring.

Scars are the result of your body healing itself. Your skin is made up of multiple layers. The epidermis, which is the outermost surface that’s visible to the naked eye, can usually heal without leaving any marks behind. But when the dermis, the deeper layer beneath the epidermis, becomes damaged, your body quickly produces collagen (yes, the protein responsible for youthful, plump skin) and sends it over to where tissue has been harmed in order to begin the recovery process. This rush of collagen, along with increased blood supply to the area, is what creates the scar.

“The secret to minimizing scars is to minimize the amount of work your body has to do in order to deal with the injury.”

As you know, scars fade on their own to a certain extent. That’s because after a while, the collagen begins breaking down, making the scar smoother and lose a bit of its color. Still, we all know scars can stick around permanently. To minimize its appearance, taking immediate action is key!

As a general rule of thumb, the secret to minimizing scars is to minimize the amount of work your body has to do in order to deal with the injury. Let’s talk about how your body reacts to damage again. All that collagen your body makes to help heal the wound? You want to normalize production. Overproduction is what causes the most noticeable, thickest and darkest scars.

Here’s what you should do. (*Note: These steps are for your lighter, “everyday” wounds; for serious and deep injuries, please see a trustworthy pharmacist or doctor.)

Properly clean the damaged area.

Wash the wound with baby shampoo or another type of mild cleanser. Use lukewarm water. If you’re tempted to apply hydrogen peroxide for its disinfectant properties, resist. Although it does help eliminate bacteria, it also combats the white blood cells your body needs to heal. Also avoid alcohol. In fact, as long as you diligently clean the area twice a day, you don’t need to utilize any of those harsh sterilizing treatments.

Keep the wound moist.

Remember this: Your skin should not be dry. A dampened environment helps to  protect the wound, keep it pliable, and prevent scabbing (which takes even longer to heal). Take a dab of Bacitracin or Neosporin and cover the damaged area to keep it from drying out while also preventing any bacterial or fungal growth. Don’t go crazy, though. Use just enough to cover the area with a thin layer. No need to pour it on.

Keep it covered.

Contrary to popular belief that you should “let your wound breathe,” adding a physical protective barrier like a bandage or sheet of gauze will keep the area moist and away from dirt, bacteria, and other substances that can irritate or thwart wound healing. The idea is not to suffocate your wound, but to create a barrier that keeps harmful things out of it.

Fade the scar with a targeted treatment.

Once your wound has closed up  (i.e. it is not longer “raw”), use a topical product that will help reduce both the intensity and texture of the scar. The earlier you can do this, the better.

There are many scar treatments available and easily accessible. If you prefer something that was expertly formulated, we love Kate Somerville’s D-Scar Diminishing Serum. This rollerball contains a special peptide to help the skin renew itself. Peptides are chains of amino acids that act as building blocks for skin’s proteins, including collagen.

Another popular anti-scar ingredient is allantoin, which is a substance found in plants that helps rebuild skin’s structure and increase moisture retention. This, along with onion extract (known to have anti-inflammatory properties), is the ingredient found in the popular over-the-counter scar treatment, Mederma. Mederma has been clinically proven to reduce the physical appearance of scars after just 8 weeks of treatment, and is highly recommended by the pharmacists of CO Bigelow. Just make sure you wait until after your wounds have healed to start using it!

Finally, silicon sheets are another very popular tool for diminishing the appearance of scars. They help to prevent excess scar tissue from forming, as well as flatten and normalize the color of existing scars. It is important to remember that silicon sheets should also not be utilized until AFTER the initial wound has healed and a scar has formed. At CO Bigelow, our brand of choice is ScarAway.

A Word on Acne Scarring

If you’re concerned about a scar on your arm or leg, that’s one thing. But we understand that to have one on your face—front and center—is a whole other source of concern. Blemish-induced scarring typically comes from the cystic acne, the painful, large variety that develops from underneath the skin’s surface.

The first, most important step: Do not pick, pop or poke your blemishes. You’ll be putting yourself at risk for damaging the deeper layers of skin, which is why scars are formed. Unlike scars that occur from scrapes, burns or cuts, you don’t need to keep the blemish moist. Use an acne-specific spot treatment until it disappears.

Once your blemish goes away, you can use targeted scar treatments like Kate Somerville’s D-Scar Diminishing Serum. If the scar is significant enough, many people visit their esthetician to get chemical peels or other facial procedures to help expedite the skin renewal process.

Lastly… Sun Protection!!!

The most often overlooked part of scar treatment is protection from the harmful rays of the sun. Damaged skin is more sensitive to sunlight, and direct exposure can cause hyper-pigmentation and work against your efforts to normalize your scar with the rest of your skin. Make sure you cover your scar with a product containing minimum SPF 30 protection any time it will be exposed to sunlight. Zinc is very effective for this purpose and is highly recommended by C.O. Bigelow pharmacists.

Scars can be wonderful conversation starters and act as physical markers of your history, but most of the time we prefer even-toned, smooth skin. The best thing you can do for yourself is to nurture your wounds and be patient. Slow and steady wins the race!

Products mentioned in this post

  • How To Get Rid Of Scars - Kate Somerville D-Scar

    Kate Somerville D-Scar Diminishing Serum

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