Prevention: Scars are part of the healing process and proper treatment can minimize visibility. *Photo supplied
Prevention: Scars are part of the healing process and proper treatment can minimize visibility. *Photo supplied

Summertime is just about here and for most of us, that means breaking out shorts, tank tops and swimwear, thus exposing all the imperfections on our skin.  Many of our imperfections include scars from childhood, bike accidents or a simple slip and fall. And while scars will never go away, the good news is there are treatments to diminish their appearance.

The first thing you need to know about scars is that they are part of the healing process, so we all get them. There isn’t much we can do to prevent them, but treating wounds properly can help to minimise scarring.

The appearance of any given scar depends on a number of factors including the shape, size and depth of the wound. Factors such as blood supply, sun exposure, skin thickness and mechanical stress vary between body parts. 

These factors impact on scar formation. Areas with poor blood supply, thin skin, increased stress, such as front of the knee and increased sun exposure may be more likely to scar. Scars are more obvious in areas where skin is pulled tightly, such as the jawbone than where it is soft, such as the cheek.

All scars can be treated, but there are different treatment options available for different levels of scars. Most ordinary scars are treatable with over the counter products, but taking care of a wound during the healing process makes a big difference. Here are a few tips to help your skin heal with as little scarring as possible:

Get stitches if needed:  Deep cuts often heal better when they are stitched by a medical professional. Remember that stitches need to be sewn as soon as possible, while the wound is fresh. If you don’t do it right away, the wound may become contaminated with germs or bacteria and the doctor may not want to stitch it shut because of a potential infection. If you don’t know if you need stitches or not, it’s best to check with a doctor right away. 

• Keep the wound moist: Applying petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin  to the wound and covering with a non-stick bandage can speed healing and help to minimise scarring. 

• Avoid the sun: Keep the wound covered and away from sunlight, as exposing it to the sun can help to minimise discolouration. Zinc Oxide ointment can also be applied if it is difficult to cover the wound. It provides a physical barrier against the sun. 

Let it heal naturally: This is one of the most important tips. Don’t pick at the scab because it will slow down the healing process and increase scarring. The scab protects the wound and it will fall off as the wound heals. Also, don’t use too much hydrogen peroxide as it also can slow the healing process. Cleaning with soap and water is as effective and gentler to the skin.

• Be patient: Healing can take a long time so you have to be patient. Most scars never stop changing and improving over time. 

Products

If you have let your wound heal naturally and you aren’t happy with the scar, there are various options that don’t require surgery, including over-the-counter prescription creams, ointment, gels or oils. 

There are products such as Bio-Oil, Mederma, Scar Care and Vitamin E oil along with various lightening creams and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. Most of these products require topical treatment several times a day in order for it to work. 

With stretch marks, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter is something that can be used during and after pregnancy to help minimise scarring. Therecommendation is to use it twice a day.  

Scar Care has the similar ingredients in it as Mederma but is cheaper. 

Bio-Oil is another favourite that is recommended for scars, stretch marks, uneven tone, aging and dehydrated skin. It is formulated for use on both the face and body. It can also be used during and after pregnancy. 

It must be applied twice daily for three months. All these products are available at the Lindo’s Pharmacy. If you have any questions, your pharmacist can help you find the best product that is suited for your needs. 

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. For information, visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm