You get scarred some time or the other in your life. The usual culprits are post acne scars; scars from cuts, brazes, boils, burns, injuries, surgery etc.
They are actually growths of collagen (protein) that form beneath the skin as a result of all of the above. Collagen consists of fibers that strengthen the layer of skin beneath the surface. When the skin is injured, the collagen that is produced becomes thicker.
How you treat this cut, wound etc. can determine what kind of scar, if any, may develop. And how you care for that scar can determine how fast and to what extent it will fade (as scars do overtime).
Can you prevent scars in the 1st place?
Well, if you don’t want scars, don’t get cut…Ain’t it simple??
It’s a very personal thing, but you should consider protecting your skin with gloves, long pants, and long sleeves whenever working around thorny, sharp or jagged objects; especially if you are prone to injuries. Once again – it’s a very personal thing. If you feel protecting your skin will help, please do that.
Similarly for acne, it is important to develop a good skincare routine that involves cleansing your skin in the mornings, evenings and after workouts. Read more about how to prevent & treat acne here.
Help wounds heal properly
A wound (including the ones from severe acne boils & pimples) that heals quickly and neatly is less likely to develop a scar than a wound that festers. Make sure all your cuts and scrapes are properly cleaned (hydrogen peroxide is a good cleanser), and try to keep the wound slightly moist with an anti-biotic ointment (or a natural herbal one as we generally recommend) while it is healing.
Don’t pick at scabs
Your parents and ours too, were right when they said that picking scabs off a healing wound could increase your chances of leaving behind a visible scar. Similarly, avoid touching, rubbing, picking or popping pimples.
Protect your skin from sunlight
Always apply sunblock and never allow direct sunlight to shine on the damaged area. Scars have less pigment than the rest of your skin. They therefore lack the ability to develop a protective tan, and they are especially vulnerable to sunburn.
Eat a well balanced diet
Now comes the first part of healing from inside out. Wounds won’t heal right unless your body has what it takes to make them heal right. Protein & vitamins obtained by eating a well-balanced diet are essential. Go for good sources of zinc – an important mineral for good & quick healing – like pumpkin, Brazil nuts, peanuts, lean beef, sunflower seeds etc. Yoghurt and skimmed milk supply zinc in smaller amounts. Incorporate fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains into your diet. Drink plenty of water to flush toxins from the body’s system.
More and more people are looking for natural and holistic ways to heal scars from acne, chicken pox, injury or surgery. While some topical creams and medical procedures such as dermabrasion and laser resurfacing may lessen the appearance of scarring, they are often very costly and harmful to the skin.
Natural treatments such as herbal remedies are less invasive and gentle to use on the skin. Herbs such as Galium aperine (Cleavers) and Trifolium pratense (red clover) have a wide range of therapeutic benefits that act as a cleansing tonic, blood purifier and lymphatic cleanser. Homeopathic ingredients such as Natrium muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum and Kalium sulphate help to maintain skin health and support the regenerative processes of the skin.
Further, herbal ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil & Neem contain antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties and are not only effective for acne but for other skin conditions too. Other herbs such as Rooibos and Bulbine frutescence (a South African herb) have wonderful antioxidant and healing properties and also help to prevent skin infection and provide ongoing relief. In addition, Lavender essential oil acts as a circulatory stimulant and antiseptic, and is used to treat burns and wounds and to prevent scarring. These herbal remedies are thus excellent for keeping your skin clean, fresh and scar free.
Dermabrasion & chemical peeling
Dermabrasion and deep chemical peeling are techniques designed to remove outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and the upper part of the second layer (dermis), usually for cosmetic reasons. Dermabrasion is performed with a rapidly rotating brush; chemical peeling is done with a caustic chemical. Both procedures leave the skin raw and bleeding. In time the treated area becomes crusted and heals, forming a pink surface that gradually becomes lighter in color – in much the same way that any scar does.
Such surgery should be done by physicians experienced in the technique, and patients must understand what the procedure involves and what side effects might follow. These include scarring, infection & pigmentary changes.
For acne scars in particular!
In cases where scarring is a result of severe acne, your doctor or dermatologist may use pressure treatings or silicone gel sheetings to treat scars. For protruding scars such as keloids or hypertronic, steroid injections may be used. Collagen injections may also be helpful in treating pitted scars
Dermabrasion is one technique used to modify acne scars. The patient must be prepared, however, for a relatively prolonged period (around 3 weeks) of recovery from the side effects. The procedure involves stroking a high-speed rotary brush or abrasive across the anaesthetized skin to peel and level the outermost layers; this causes the skin to swell & crust over. The crust is eventually shed – usually within 2 weeks – as new skin begins to form underneath. The underlying skin is thinner and pinker, and it may take several months for the skin to return to normal.
Dermabrasion does not completely remove all acne scars, but it does tend to make the less noticeable. Also, the procedure does not help all types of scars, nor does it help all scars to the same degree. Finally, there are a number of risks involved, including infection and changes in skin color. As a result, if you wish to have this treatment, you should proceed only after careful evaluation by a physician experienced in the use of the technique.
Chemical peels. Chemicals are applied to the skin to remove the top layer and generate new skin growth beneath the scars. This lifts the scar to the level of the surrounding skin, minimizing its appearance. In general, “medium” or “deep” peels are used to treat acne, meaning that the peel is designed to affect the deeper layers of the skin. Deep peels may cause lightening of the skin and a change in skin texture. Bandages may be required for several days.
Laser skin resurfacing. This removes the top portion of the scars and creates heat in the deeper layers of the skin. This heat causes the skin to tighten and smooth out the scar. The result is the smoothing out of the skin. Laser resurfacing is particularly helpful for boxcar scars and further improvement of scars treated by other methods. In some cases, only a single treatment is required; however, final results may not be seen for 12-18 months. Redness following treatment may last for several months.