Scars are one of the body’s ways of repairing itself. If skin is damaged, your body works to form fibrous structures to mend the wound. Unfortunately, the resulting scar will look and feel different from the surrounding skin. There are different causes of scarring, but surgery or acne are particularly common. When a scar appears, it often looks angry and red, but will usually fade over several months. There are things you can do to help.
One way to reduce scarring is to moisturise and massage developing scars for five to 10 minutes every day. This helps to stimulate blood flow, which is good for scar remodelling. Some people use specialist skincare oils, but the massaging is more important than the product used. If you have a scar that is healing, it is important to refrain from exercising or moving around, as the tissue may begin to move apart and the scar will take on a larger, rugby-ball shape during remodelling. If you smoke, stop: as well as all its other health risks, smoking has a negative effect on healing and the scar will end up looking much worse.
If a scar causes pain, the NHS may be able to help, but for less serious scars that still cause distress, private dermatologists have a variety of treatments aimed at reducing their appearance, including dermarolling (using a small wheel covered with tiny needles to gently prick the face) or subcision (a minor surgical procedure). Overall, though, the best way to reduce scarring is to treat the underlying problem. This isn’t always possible for surgery or burn scars, but many patients have long-lasting scars from acne. Had they sought treatment sooner, they might have less severe scarring or none at all.
Dr Bav Shergill is a consultant dermatologist. As told to Serena Bhandari
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