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How to reduce the appearance of scars

Reducing the severity or eliminating the appearance of scars can seem like a tough task. But there are some tricks that can really help you out. Read on to learn more about how you can improve the look of your skin after a cut or burn strikes.

Woman with scars on her legs

Why does scarring happen?

It doesn’t matter how safely you live; your skin is bound to come across some wear and tear. Fumbling with a hot pan, tripping on a curb or cutting up vegetables can all cause you to wind up with a cut or burn that can quickly turn into a scar. Your body works to rebuild what has been damaged, and that can lead to unsightly scar tissue. But there are some things you can do to minimize the chances of scarring.

Immediate attention

When damage to the skin occurs, your best ally in deterring the formation of a scar is to treat the wound appropriately right away. WebMD advises to clean it with cool water immediately. Use a gentle soap and soft washcloth to clean around the wound, then apply an antibiotic cream or ointment. Cover the wound with a Band-Aid or gauze and tape to protect it from dirt and bacteria and to keep it as moist as possible. The longer you can keep the area from losing its moisture, the better, as a dried-out wound has a better chance of scarring. An infected wound can also lead to scarring, so keeping your wound free of gunk is your best defence. WebMD suggests that if the wound won’t stop bleeding, is particularly deep, larger than 1/2 an inch, located on your face, caused by a bite or dirty object or shows signs of infection, get medical attention rather than try to cope with it on your own.

Don’t be hasty

In the majority of cases, the wound will eventually scab over. This scab is your body’s attempt to clot the area and heal itself, so the last thing you want to do is undo its hard work by picking at the scab. Avoid touching the area while it heals, and keep it protected to reduce the risk of accidentally catching it on something.

Stick with it

Once the wound has healed over, you may think your work is done, but it is isn’t! Reducing the appearance of a scar is an ongoing process. One of the most important things you can do for your old wound is to protect it from the sun. If it is in an area that can be covered by clothing, wear clothes that hide it from the sun’s damaging rays. If that isn’t possible, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply it over the affected area regularly. WebMD also suggests keeping the scar moisturized by applying petroleum jelly such as Vaseline. Never allowing the area to dry out will help to reduce the severity of the scar.

Further treatment

Several treatments for scar reduction that are more intensive — such as dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, injectable fillers and steroid injections — are options to consider if you’re dealing with a persistent scar that doesn’t seem to be fading. Consult your doctor for more information on whether such treatments are right for you.

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