While some people consider their scars to be marks of pride, many people just want them to go away. Since they can affect your appearance, they can make you feel self-conscious.
If you want to get rid of an old scar, you need to understand what a scar is and what type you’re trying to get rid of.
A scar forms as part of the natural healing process following an injury. When the dermis — the second layer of skin — is damaged, your body forms collagen fibers to repair the damage, resulting in a scar.
In most cases, the faster a wound heals, the less collagen will be deposited, and the less noticeable the scar will be.
Typically, the severity of the scar is based on the severity of the injury or damage. They form differently on different parts of the body and based on the age of the injured person.
There’s no known way to make scars totally disappear, but many will become lighter over time on their own.
There are also some medical treatments and over-the-counter (OTC) options that can help reduce the appearance of scars.
Silicone gels or sheets
Silicone gels and sheets can be used on healing skin, not open wounds. They’re soft- and flexible-style gels or sheets that are applied like a self-adhesive dressing. They’re designed to help soften the skin and flatten the scar.
Worn daily, they can be washed and reused for up to 3 months. You don’t need a prescription — they can be bought over the counter at your local store.
Corticosteroid injections can be effective at treating certain types of scars, like thick or keloid scars.
They’re injected directly into the scar tissue to help decrease the itching, redness, and burning sensations that these scars may produce. They aren’t used on other types of scars because they can cause a permanent indentation if injected directly into a flat scar.
The injections reduce swelling and flatten the scar. The injections tend to be given on multiple occasions over a series of months. You can ask a doctor if this is something they can offer you.
Also referred to as laser skin resurfacing or laser scar revision, laser therapy targets blood vessels that can reduce the appearance of a scar.
While it can’t eliminate the scar completely, the pulses of light can make the scar flatter, reduce redness, and lessen pain and itchiness.
Laser therapy is carried out by a doctor or an aesthetic professional.
Injectable dermal fillers are gel-like substances injected underneath your skin.
Normally, they’re made from hyaluronic acid, a substance that organically forms occurs in your body. They can sometimes be used to plump pitted scars, for example, if you have deep scarring as a result of acne.
Dermal fillers are injected by a doctor or an aesthetic or dermatology professional.
Chemical peels can be used to treat mild scarring. The chemical solution dissolves the outermost layer of the skin to help increase cell turnover and reveal a smoother, less irregular complexion.
This treatment works better for people with lighter skin. Aesthetic professionals normally carry out chemical peels.
If you have darker skin, a glycolic acid peel may be more effective. Azelaic acid is also a good option for treating acne and pigment on the face.
Regardless of skin tone, make sure you use sunscreen daily and reapply if you’re exposed to the sun, as peels make the skin extremely sensitive to light and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Subcision is another common aesthetic treatment used to treat acne scarring. It involves inserting a small needle into your skin to release the acne scar from the underlying tissue.
This can be particularly effective for depressed or indented scars.
This allows the skin to rise and diminish the acne scar’s appearance. It’s carried out in an aesthetic or dermatology clinic.
This acne scar treatment uses a surgical tool that matches the size of the scar.
Much like the name describes, the scar is removed with the tool and then stitched up. It’s one of the best ways of removing these deep styles of scars, like ice pick or boxcar scars.
Visit an aesthetic or dermatology clinic to learn more.
Microneedling can be used on a whole host of scar types.
As the name implies, the treatment uses microneedles to prick the skin and create microchannels. This stimulates collagen production, which helps to restructure the skin and reduce the appearance of scars.
Aesthetic or dermatology clinics normally offer microneedling.
Depending on the type of scar you have, a doctor may be able to prescribe a cream. Some prescription-only creams may be more effective than what you buy over the counter.
These products often contain a high-strength retinoid or a topical steroid to decrease itching and swelling.
Be sure to protect your skin from the sun, especially when scars are healing. Apply sunscreen daily and opt for sun-protective clothing like hats and scarves when you’re exposed to the sun.
There are a wealth of OTC options too.
These creams don’t contain active prescription-only ingredients but instead contain other alternatives that aim to reduce the size and appearance of scars as well as combat redness or itchiness.
There are also several natural remedies that may help with the appearance of scars.
To use it:
- Remove the dark green “skin” from the flatter side of an aloe vera leaf.
- Scoop out the almost clear light-green gel.
- Apply the gel directly to your scar using circular motions.
- After half an hour, wash the gel off with fresh, cool water.
- Repeat twice each day.
The scientific evidence around vitamin E and scars is inconclusive. Research on how vitamin E can treat acne and heal its scars is inconclusive.
In a 2016 study, researchers concluded that there isn’t enough evidence that topical vitamin E has a significant beneficial effect on scars to justify its widespread use. They noted the need for more high quality studies.
- Cut open a vitamin E capsule over the scar and squeeze the oil onto the scar (you might need more than just one capsule to get enough liquid for full coverage).
- For about 10 minutes, massage the oil on and around the scar.
- After about 20 minutes, wash off the oil with warm water.
- Repeat this process a minimum of three times per day.
There isn’t scientific evidence that honey can help with scars.
- Before going to bed, cover your scar with a layer of honey.
- Wrap the honey-covered scar with a bandage.
- Leave it on for one full night.
- In the morning, remove the bandage and wash off the honey with warm water.
- Make this part of your routine every night.
There’s limited scientific evidence to support the use of coconut oil to fade scars.
- encouraging collagen synthesis
- reducing inflammation
- repairing the skin barrier
- having an antibacterial and antioxidant effect
- Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil just enough to liquefy it.
- Massage the oil into the scar for about 10 minutes.
- Let the skin absorb the oil for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Repeat two to four times every day.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been shown to help with preventing acne scars.
- Combine 4 tablespoons of distilled water with 2 tablespoons of ACV.
- Dip a cotton ball into the water-cider mixture and generously dab your scar.
- Let it dry.
- Do this every night before you go to bed, washing the area in the morning.
Lavender and olive oil
Research suggests that lavender essential oil could help with wound healing.
- Mix three drops of lavender essential oil into three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Massage the mixture into the scarred area for about 5 minutes.
- Leave the oil in place for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse the area with warm water.
- Repeat this process a minimum of three times a day.
There’s no solid medical evidence that lemon can help scars.
One 2018 study on mice found that topical application of lemon oil helped to reduce skin inflammation and skin damage in mice.
- Cut a wedge from a fresh lemon.
- Gently rub the juicy side of the lemon on the scar while you squeeze the juice onto the scar.
- Relax for about 10 minutes before rinsing off the area with cool water.
- Do this every day at approximately the same time.
Citrus juices and oils, including lemon, lime, orange, and bergamot, are known to cause photosensitivity, or sensitivity to light. If you choose to use a citrus product on your face, avoid exposing your skin to UV rays for at least 12 hours, and always use sunscreen.
There’s limited medical evidence supporting the idea that potatoes can help with scars. But one 2017 study found that potato peel may help heal minor burns.
- Slice a potato into medium thick rounds.
- Using a circular motion, rub the potato slice on your scar.
- Once the potato slice starts to dry out, discard it and continue rubbing with another slice.
- Continue rubbing and replacing for about 20 minutes and then let the scar air-dry for about 10 minutes.
- Rinse the area with cool water.
- Repeat this process at least one time each day.
Rosehip and frankincense
- Mix equal parts rosehip essential oil and frankincense essential oil.
- Massage the rosehip-frankincense mixture onto the scar.
- Wait for 45 minutes before gently rinsing the area with warm water.
- Follow this procedure three times a day.
- Mix distilled water — a little at time — into 2 tablespoons of baking soda until it forms a paste.
- Wet your scar with distilled water and then apply the paste to the wet scar.
- Hold the paste in place with a warm compress for 15 minutes.
- Rinse the area and repeat daily.
Before trying any of the remedies above, thoroughly wash and dry the scar and the area around it. Only use these remedies on scars, not open wounds. Always do a patch test before trying a new product or ingredient on your skin to prevent irritation and rash. If any of these remedies cause irritation, stop use immediately.
If you want to make a scar look less noticeable, you may want to try a natural remedy. There are many people who believe that natural remedies can get the job done.
As with any home remedy, have a conversation with your healthcare professional before starting. A doctor can offer insights and recommendations about which remedies you should or shouldn’t try.
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