Scar Treatment

When to Start Caring for Your Scar

Date Reviewed 16.09.2021
5 min read

Whether it is following an injury or surgery, it is likely that your skin will form a visible scar as part of the natural healing process.  How long scars take to heal can vary depending on what caused the scar, how visible it is and your general skin type. If you want to minimise the appearance and feel of your scars, it is important to care for them properly, and that can mean using a different tactic at different scar healing stages.

  • Care for wounds early in the healing process as possible to reduce scarring.
  • Always wait until the wound, injury, or initial concern has cleared up before apply scar care products.
  • Once your skin has healed, build up your scar care to help reduce the redness and visibility of your scar.

 

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • How long do scars take to heal and what causes them
  • What causes scarring
  • How long do scars take to heal
  • When to start caring for scars
  • Injury and surgery scars
  • Burn scars
  • Acne scars

How long do scars take to heal and what causes them

What causes scarring?

Scarring is a natural part of the healing process when your skin is injured. A scar is nothing more than the mark left by a healed wound. Scars will typically evolve over time, and most minor ones will fade away. However, depending on the cause or location of the injury, the scar may be more visible and become a hypertrophic scar or keloid.

Scars can be caused by:

  • Injuries
  • Surgery
  • Burns
  • Acne

 

How long do scars take to heal

Scars can take years to heal and will never disappear completely[1]. But, over time, fine scars can fade and flatten by themselves. Deeper, more raised, or redder scars may need a little extra help to care for them and reduce their appearance.

 

When to start caring for scars

Don’t rush into scar care right after your injury. Take good care of your wound first and wait until the skin has completely healed (no scab) before starting to apply any topical products. You should never use topical scar creams like Mederma® on open wounds.

Proper care is always the first measure to take to help prevent or minimise scarring[2].If you are not sure if your mark is an actual scar (e.g. you don’t remember any event or condition that could have led to a scar), don’t hesitate to talk to a dermatologist about it[3].

 

Injury/surgical scars

In case of skin injuries, you should always wait until the newly-formed skin has finished scabbing. Scabbing may not occur in surgical incisions but wait until the incision is done healing before applying a topical scar care. As the wound is healing, keep it moisturised to prevent scab formation and help shorten the healing time. If a scab does form, refrain from picking it, as this may result in the wound reopening, thereby delaying the healing time and will likely lead to more scar formation.

Once there is no more scab and the wound is visibly closed (which means that the skin has healed) you can start caring your scar with topical creams or oils.

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You’ll need to care for your scar differently at each scar healing stage for the best results and to maintain your skin’s health. At first, be gentle while applying any scar care product because the new skin may not be strong enough to withstand excessive pressure.

Beyond 2 weeks after the injury, your skin will be strong enough to start massaging your scar[4]. Scar massage is proven to increase the effectiveness of scar care and may help prevent the development of a hypertrophic scar or keloid by degrading excessive and non-pliable collagen[5]. Care for your scar for at least 6 to 8 weeks for best results.

 

Burn scars

Depending on the severity of the burn and its extent, it could take a long time to heal completely. Remember that most scar creams and oils are not intended for open burn wounds, but healed burn scars.

Once the healing is complete, it is best to care for your scar as soon as possible to prevent a contracture scar from forming.

Like any scar, do not apply any scar care product before the burn has completely healed. If your burn does leave a scar, caring for it with a specialist cream or oil may improve the look and texture by helping it appear softer and smoother. This takes about 2 weeks[5]. Healing time is also dependent on the extent of the burn, i.e. the larger and deeper the burn, the longer it takes to heal.

Burn scars are particularly sensitive to sunlight, so it is best to cover them[6]. When this is not possible, be sure to apply a product with an SPF to protect your skin.

Acne scars

As previously stated, scar care should not start on an open wound. In the case of acne, you should wait until the acne is no longer active. Once your acne clears up, you can start starting to apply a scar care product.

Do not pick or squeeze your acne pimples as they are likely to burst, which breaks the skin barrier and delays the start of scar care[7].

In short, care for your acne before attempting to care for scarring. This may help prevent scarring in the first place. Once your wound is closed and your skin has healed, don’t waste time and start applying your chosen scar care. By doing so, you will increase your chances of getting your scars to fade away.

Summary

When caring for scars, it’s always best to start as early in the healing process as possible, but always make sure to wait until the wound, injury, or initial concern has cleared up. Avoid applying a topical product to an open wound. Once your skin has healed, you can start to build up your scar care to help reduce the redness and visibility of your scar.

References

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