While some people wear scars proudly, most just want them to go away. They can be a painful reminder of an accident that can follow you around for the rest of your life, and since they affect your appearance, they can make people self-conscious. But fret not, there is hope!
The first step to getting rid of an old scar is understanding what a scar is and what type of scar you’re treating. A scar forms when the dermis — the second layer of skin — is damaged, causing your body to form collagen fibers to help repair the damage. Although many factors can affect the size and appearance of the scar, generally speaking, the faster the wound heals, the less noticeable the scar will be. Let’s start by taking a look at the different types of scars, and how to reduce their appearance.
Types of Scars
Keloid scars are most common among people with dark skin and are raised and puffy, often appearing darker than surrounding skin. These types of scars are the result of aggressive healing in which the body haphazardly sends collagen to the affected area, resulting in a scar that grows beyond the injured skin area.
Characterized by excess tissue that forms over the skin as it heals, hypertrophic scars are raised and red, similar to keloid scars; however, they do not grow outside the injured area. Like keloids, hypertrophic scars are the result of an overproduction of tissue at the site of the wound.
Typical of chickenpox and cystic acne, atrophic scars, or “pockmarks,” are characterized by the loss of tissue. They’re caused when there’s damage to the skin’s underlying structure, usually as a result of inflammation. The result is a depression in the skin’s surface. Atrophic scars are often darker in appearance than surrounding skin.
Contracture scars are the result of losing or damaging a large area of skin and most commonly occur due to a burn. These scars are characterized by tight, shiny skin, and can also restrict movement.
Top 5 Natural Scar Remedies
While scars will never disappear completely, there are a number of natural scar remedies that can lighten their appearance and make them less noticeable. Here are a few of the top natural scar remedies that have helped people reduce scar size and appearance.
The appearance of scars is reduced when adequate moisture levels are maintained, and inflammation is kept in check. Because aloe vera has been reported to contain both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to reduce swelling and redness and lighten the appearance of scars.
To use aloe vera as a natural scar remedy, simply remove the skin from an aloe vera leaf or find a high-quality aloe vera gel. Next, apply the gel directly to your scar using circular motions. If you choose to use the plant, wash off the remaining gel with cool water after 30 minutes. Repeat this twice daily for a noticeably lighter scar.
Coconut oil has a cult following and for good reason. It’s rich in omega fatty acids which work to penetrate and moisturize the skin. It’s also believed to boost collagen production, which can help to minimize scarring as well as fine lines and wrinkles.
To use coconut oil, massage it onto the scar for about 10 minutes, two to four times a day, and allow the skin to absorb the oil for a minimum of one hour. But be careful, use only enough coconut oil to treat the area as excess oil may cause breakouts.
A popular remedy for preventing and treating stretch marks, shea butter is another rich source of omega fatty acids that can help to lighten and even the appearance of scars. To use shea, simply apply to the scar using a circular motion, repeating twice daily or as needed to keep the area moisturized.
Honey is known for its natural moisturizing effects and can also stimulate tissue regeneration, making it a popular skincare ingredient. To use honey, cover your scar with a thin layer before wrapping the area with a bandage. Make sure you wrap it with care — you’ll be sleeping with it on, and failure to do so can result in sticky sheets (gross). In the morning, remove the bandage and wash off the honey with warm water. Repeat this process nightly.
From lavender to tea tree, there is a vast range of essential oils, many of which are known to help heal scars. While it depends on the type of scar you’re dealing with, both lavender and tea tree are popular choices and work well as a daily moisturizer to help diminish the appearance of scars. It’s important to only use essential oils topically, never on an open wound, and with a carrier oil — we recommend coconut oil. To use, mix one to two drops of essential oil to one tablespoon of coconut oil and massage into the affected area in a circular motion for 10 minutes twice a day.
While these are just a few of the more popular natural scar treatments, there are many products and ingredients that are known for their scar-healing properties. With a little experimentation, you can find the right one for your needs. Remember, all of the options provided above are meant for topical application only, and you should never use them on an open wound.
Have you tried any of the above scar remedies? Did they work for you? Let us know your favorite scar remedy in the comment section below!