This is a guest post, courtesy of Dr. Craig Crippen from DermMedica. Scars are a problem that many people have to deal with in their lives. Whether it is scarring from an injury, or from teenage acne, or from a medical condition like chicken pox, there are many reasons for a person to have scarring.
Scars can make people self-conscious at the very least, and potentially something even more traumatic. Not everyone wants to deal with a lifetime of covering them up with clothing or makeup.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to treat your scars, even if they are older. You can potentially even permanently remove them from your skin.
Depending on the type and severity of your scar, it is possible to treat and potentially remove it for good using some natural methods. They can be found at a pharmacy or health stores and do not require a prescription to buy, though some doctors might prescribe them after a surgery to help treat any scarring.
Silicone sheets & gel
Both silicone sheets and silicone gel have been used as a treatment for healing scars for a long time, and has a number of medical studies proving their effectiveness. The silicone sheets are like band aids with adhesive to stick to your skin, while the silicone gel is a topical formula that is applied to the scar like a cream. Once applied, both the sheet and the gel mimics the natural occlusion healing of the top layer of your skin when it heals normal cuts and wounds.
Both should be used twice a day, and neither have been proven to be more effective than the other. So, which you use depends on your preference.
As a natural healing remedy, aloe vera in various forms has been used for thousands of years. It has also been proven to be an effective treatment for scarring caused by burns because it aids the collagens of the scar to stimulate healing. If you want to try to use it to completely heal your scars, you should look for pure aloe vera oil at health food stores and apply to the scar 2-3 times every day.
It is possible to completely heal scarring using aloe, but it can take as long as a few years so if that’s all you want to do you might have to be patient.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is another natural substance made from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant that can heal scarring, especially for acne scars. It works best when you use 100% pure tea tree oil and can be used undiluted in small amounts twice per day. However, some people might experience irritation. If you do, you should dilute it with water until you have no adverse reactions.
If the natural treatments do not work for you, you can ask your doctor or specialist for other medical treatments to try. As mentioned above, silicone sheets and gel is a commonly used treatment by doctors, but if they did not completely remove the scarring you can also ask about these alternatives.
For hypertrophic scars, which form when there is too much skin tension during the healing process, a common treatment is injections of a steroid called triamcinolone. According to some medical studies, it has a high rate of success in completely removing the scars — however, sometimes the scarring comes back later.
Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy
For keloid scarring, which happen when your body’s natural healing process causes an extreme amount of scar tissue to build up, it is possible to treat it using liquid nitrogen. It is a similar treatment to removing warts, where the liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the scar(s) and causes it to blister and fall off after a few weeks. This treatment works best with smaller keloid scars, such as those caused by acne, and is sometimes combined with steroid injections.
Prescription creams and ointments
There is a variety of prescription medication you can take to help remove scars, similar to natural remedies. Corticosteroids is a common drug that is similar to cortisol, which is a natural occuring hormone. It can be given in the form of a cream that you apply directly to the scar, a medicine you ingest orally, or a shot that injects it into your bloodstream directly.
Pressure dressings are used for burn scars, and work by flattening and softening scars after being applied to the scar area. They usually have to be worn 24 hours a day for as long as a year, and can be combined with silicone gel.
If no natural or medical treatments worked to remove your scars, you might have to resort to more drastic surgical treatments. There are different types of surgeries depending on the nature of your scarring, so make sure you get advice from your doctor about what surgical options are available to you.
Studies performed since the invention of laser scar removal have shown it to be an effective treatment at removing certain scars such as scarring caused by acne, burns, and various types of trauma. There are three different types of laser removal surgery:
- Resurfacing works by removing the layer of skin that has been scarred so it can heal smoothly
- Fractional resurfacing makes microscopic holes in the scarred area to break up old scar tissue cells and encourage collagen production
- Infrared skin lasers penetrates underneath your skin to promote new skin cell production to replace the damaged scar tissue cells
These procedures are usually done by dermatologists and skin care clinics, so ask your doctor for a referral for a consultation to see if they might work for you.
Skin grafts are a very common surgical procedure for people with burn scars. It works by removing the scarred area and transplanting your own skin from a healthy, less obvious area of your body onto the previously scarred area. This helps healthy skin heal and grow over the burn scars, even if the affected area was quite extensive. Skin grafts tend to be better for large burn scars than other treatments due to the size of the area, but the downside is it can leave scarring in the transplanted area.
Born and raised in Ottawa Ontario, Dr Crippen has attended three Canadian Universities and obtained four educational titles including his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). After receiving his M.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, Dr. Crippen then completed his specialty training at the University of Manitoba over the next two years.