Here are some over the counter scar removal remedies based on studies and clinical trials. No old wives tales or snake oil potions here. You may know what I am talking about but for the sake of clarity, lets give an example.
Vitamin E oil.
Rubbing this on your scar is commonly believed to improve its appearance. It’s a persistent rumor that roams the internet, birthday parties, and the minds of many disinformed home scar treaters.
Studies show it does not help and caused skin irritation in a large part of test persons which worsened scar healing en cosmetic outcome.
If you do a quick search online for information on how to fade your scar you will find the most divergent advice.
From lemon juice, to potato and tomato extract. From olive oil to slices of cucumber. Even ice cubes, seriously, ice cubes, are said to be scar remedies.
It’s sad there’s so much disinformation.
Enough about what does not work. Here is what works.
Research backs these claims and my own experiences as well as those of others who did side-by-side comparisons.
These home scar removal remedies do not only consist of topical applications (e.g. creams, ointments, and strips or patches but also of things you can do. Actions that will help fade your dreaded scar.
Remedy 1. Optimal wound care is very likely to reduce scar tissue.
Obviously this cure can only be used in case of a new scar but if you do have the chance make sure to keep your wound moist and clean.
Moist wound healing environments lead to up to 30% faster wound healing and preventing infections helps reduce scar tissue creation.
Dr. George D. Winter found that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that wounds should be allowed to dry out and form scabs to promote healing, wounds instead healed faster if kept moist.
A wound that heals quickly without infections or other complications will scar less.
My favorite way to care for a wound you worry may scar is to use Medihoney dressings. Especially after surgery but also in case of other serious wounds this powerful stuff will boost the healing process and prevent complications.
Apart from that it also reduces inflammation which are all major factors in scar creation.
Other wound care tips:
- If you don’t want to use Medihoney dressings you can also apply petroleum jelly or another moisturizer and very gently massage it in a few times a day. This will keep the wound moist while it is healing. Or just keep it covered with bandaids or hydrogel strips.
- Vitamin C plays an essential part in wound healing. Taking additional vitamin C can be helpful as an indirect scar remedy. The vitamin, also called ascorbic acid helps the body make collagen and enhances the wound healing process as indicated by studies.
- Hydrogen peroxide and antibacterial creams like Neosporin help preventing wound infection but you should avoid using it on large or deep wounds or on burns. If you do use them, use them as scarcely as possible since these are harsh substances that interfere with natural healing too.
Remedy 2. Start scar treatment as soon as possible
The sooner you start the younger the scar tissue is and the more efficient remedies will be. It is at this stage when your skin cells are forming collagen responsible for unsightly scars.
Right after wound closure, meaning when the scab has gone, you should ideally start scar treatment of your choice.
Remedy 3. Use silicones
Okay, you know it’s recommended to start a remedy right after the wound has closed.
What should you do? Which of the many products is best?
The answer is short and simple. Use silicone sheets.
They are clinically proven to work and are often refered to as FDA class 1 medical devices.
The only downside is that they work on raised and discolored scars only. (there may be some exceptions but don’t count on it).
“The Golden Standard” in home scar remedies as well as in hospitals and burn centers requires being used for weeks on end and to be worn for 12 to 24 hours a day.
Silicone scar gel comes in liquid gel that dries up to a thin film on your skin or in patches. Studies indicate that liquid silicones are less effective than the patches but in some cases it’s more convenient to use the gel.
For example in case of scars on the face or in the neck. Area’s where patches are difficult to keep attached.
Here’s more info on the best silicone scar sheets to buy.
Remedy 4. Go for non-invasive treatments first
You may have heard that (cortico-)steroid injections and laser therapy work which may have convinced you to start with such an invasive treatment. They do work, however, I would strongly advice not to do this.
Because these treatments are known to have side effects whereas silicones do not (except for the very exceptional skin irriation).
Steroid injections may cause the surrounding tissue to become depressed and sometimes discolored. Also laser therapy may cause ugly cosmetic side effects.
Surgical revision or surgical excision are procedures designed to make your scar less obvious. As with all remedies, no scar will disappear completely. In case of restorative surgery there’s also the new incisions that will cause skin injury and subsequently, scar tissue.
Side effect free scar remedy..
If silicones turn out not to work for you (they work for most people but there’s always exceptions) you can always opt for an invasive treatement such as steroid injections, laser, cryotherapy or surgical excision.
Here’s an overview of all the different types of scar treatments.
Remedy 5. Natural extracts, oils, and other botanical therapies
Some limited evidence exists for a few complementary and alternative medicine therapies, also called CAM therapies.
These modalities appear to have some evidence for potential benefit. CAM therapies that may be beneficail include bromelain, honey, propolis, arnica, vitamin C and bioflavonoids, chamomile, aloe vera gel, grape seed extract, zinc, turmeric, calendula, chlorella, lavender oil, and gotu kola.
These substances have been reported to promote wound healing, reduce redness (edema ) or purpura (purple color), and provide anti-inflammatory effects however,
most published studies have been small and often have design flaws
If you would opt for one of these I would personally go for one of these since they seem to be most convincing.
Grape seed extract, a popular health supplement that evidence shows may build new blood vessels and help vitamin C enter cells, strengthening cell membranes and prevent scarring in tissue.
Turmeric has been used for centuries in India to provide glow and luster to the skin. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant, astringent, and other useful effects that help to heal wounds and reduce scarring (Chaturvedi 2009).
Several case reports and animal studies demonstrate that aloe vera decreases burning, itching, and scarring associated with radiation dermatitis (Klein and Penneys 1988).
However, effects are often subtle and it’s not for no reason professional institutions commonly use silicone scar sheeting as the preferred modality and not CAM therapies.
Remedy 6. Scar massage
Gently massaging your scar may help improve it. Start only when your wound has closed completely and start out very carefully. The scar tissue is still very delicate.
Scar massage will stimulate blood circulation in the tissue making it softer. To make the process more pleasant and avoid friction, use an ointment or cream of your liking.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose an onion cream such as Mederma or a vitamin B based lotion.
Remedy 7. Take precautions
If you want to reduce the chance on an ugly scar forming you should be cautious. Things to keepin in mind are:
- Avoid exposure to UV rays. Protect your scar from sunlight and other forms of ultraviolet light since it irritates the scar making it worse. Wear sunscreen or patches or take other measures to block sunlight because solar radiation will damage the tissue or cause hyperpigmentation (discoloration). Keep doing this until your scar is mature meaning in its final state. This may take up to 18 months.
- Do not pick your wound or its scabs while it is healing. As a matter of fact, try to prevent scabbing all together. Scabs interfere with the healing process. See remedy 1.
- Keep tension on the wounded area as limited as possible. This means refrain it from moving as much as possible because this can aggravate and widen the wound. For this reason SteriStrips are often used. They keep the wound borders close and reduce stress.
What Is Scar Tissue?
Scar tissue is basically any tissue that grows over an injury. It is made up of fibrous connective tissue, generally thicker, paler and less functional than the original tissue. It allows for less range of movement, has a reduced blood supply and is more vulnerable to damage from UV rays than normal tissue.
Damage to the skin can produce types of scars: Contracture scars that are common after burns and can interfere with normal motion, hypertrophic scars that stay grow abundantly but within the boundaries of the original wound, and keloid scars, which can keep growing even after the wound is covered and form a growth similar to a tumor.
Different Scars, Different Treatments
The scar types I just mentioned (contracture, hypertrophic, and keloid) can be improved with silicone gel pads and/ or silicone gel ointments.
Other types, such as indented ones, are harder to fade. It must be noted that keloids are very hard to remove effectively and most home remedies just don’t work. (silicones may help prevent keloids but once they have formed even silicones often don’t effectively remove these tough scars. Then more invasive procedures are necessary.)
Minor cuts and scrapes like skinning your knees generally don’t create much in the way of scar tissue. Serious injuries, surgery, and certain diseases produce more obvious scarring.
For more advice, read my silicone scar sheet review.