Scars generally have a negative association since they are caused by wounds and can sometimes be unsightly, but they are truly a reminder of how amazing the healing ability of the skin really is.
How skin heals
Whether your wound is from an injury, operation or skin problem like acne, your body reacts in the same way to tackle the problem head on. First, your body limits blood flow to the wound site by constricting the nearby blood vessels. Then blood platelets and proteins help to form a scab which acts as a protective barrier from outside infection and it allows for new skin to form underneath it.
Collagen-rich connective tissue with tiny blood vessels, called granulation tissue, forms on the surface of the wound. It provides the structure and strength for the new skin that starts at the edges of the lesion and works its way inwards, finally joining at the centre – this gives the appearance of the wound becoming smaller.
Due to the increased collagen and blood supply to the wound area, the new skin forms fast and sometimes aggressively, leaving a visible area of discolouration and unevenness that gradually becomes smoother and faded over time. Unfortunately, scar tissue will never be the same as normal skin, so it’s important to make an effort to reduce scarring.
How to minimise scars
Scars heal differently. They can be flat and pale, raised and red, tight and restrictive, sunken or sometimes extend beyond the original wound area – scarring is influenced by the depth of the wound, the location on your body, your age, your nutrition, your genetics and the treatment of the wound. To prevent, reduce or improve the appearance of your scars, and to speed up the healing process, follow these easy steps the next time you are challenged with a minor wound.
1. Clean out the fresh wound with cool water
Don’t use harsh soaps or other irritants as it can delay the healing process and cause further inflammation.
2. Eliminate bacteria with a mild, natural anti-microbial ointment
Gently apply an ointment with antiseptic and healing abilities, like Clear Skin Gel, to the fresh wound to give it the best start at developing new skin in a sanitary environment.
3. Keep the wound covered for the first few days
Covering the wound keeps bacteria and irritants out, and moisture in, which helps the healing process take-off in full force. A bandage that allows air to circulate is a good choice because it prevents the wound from staying wet, which can potentially break the scab down and hamper the skin formation process.
4. Keep the wound clean
Reduce the risk of infection by using a gentle cleanser daily, but don’t scrub the area as you can rub the scab off.
5. Don’t pick your scabs
As tempting as it is to lift that scab, remember; if you reopen the wound, you could introduce dirt and bacteria, your body will need to create another scab and you could end up with a larger scar.
6. Apply a moisture and antioxidant rich cream
Skin that is well moisturised, heals better. Once the wound is on the mend, speed the process up by applying a cream, like African Potato Cream, which is rich in moisture and regenerative properties. Continue treating the scar while it heals to nourish and strengthen the skin – this could take up to two years.
7. Avoid sun exposure
Sunlight affects wound healing and scar tissue burns much faster than healthy skin. To prevent further damage and discolouration, keep the affected area out of the sun during the healing process.
8. Avoid activities that cause tension where the wound is healing
If the skin is pulled while it heals, the wound is disturbed – this can delay healing and lead to more pronounced scarring.
9. Eat nutrient rich food
Your body’s ability to heal is enhanced with good nutrition. Vitamin C and E will help your body create collagen and regenerate skin. Research also shows that Vitamin C can fade dark pigmentation associated with some scars.