A scar is the result of normal wound healing. Scars come in all sorts of appearances and many present themselves in different ways: thick and raised, flat and spread, red or white. The visibility of a scar will vary across different parts of the body. While the wound begins to heal, consider the location on the body in order to effectively treat it. Keep a face wound covered for seven days and a body wound covered for two weeks. Maintaining a clean and covered wound may help a scar from progressing.
Did you know?
Scars are categorized as young and old. The body takes approximately one year to remodel and heal the collagen in the area of a scar – a young scar is classified as under two years of age.
The healing process
The body has a beautiful way of healing itself as long as there are no underlying medical issues. After initial wounding, the blood vessels contract to form a clot and decrease inflammation. Next, the inflammatory cells migrate to allow growth factors and nutrients to reach the wounded area. These mediators work to fill the center of a wound in order to clean, protect and stop bleeding. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for the bleeding to seize. If bleeding extends beyond this or is slow to heal it’s important to seek medical attention. Following after the first phase is granulation. This begins around day 3-4 as new collagen starts to form – this helps the skin regain strength and elasticity again. New blood vessels and a new scaffold appear where the wound is present. The final phase occurs upon closure of the wound and then the skin remodeling begins. Not all wounds result in a scar. The severity of the trauma will determine if a scar becomes present.
It is important to try and prevent a scab from forming. Good initial wound care, keeping the area moist and covered, should achieve this. At times scabs may form, this too is dependent on the severity of the injury. A scab fills in the traumatized area but can also gather bacteria and dirt. Wounds with scabs do take longer to heal. If the wound evolves into a scab, it’s important to keep the scab moist – the softer the better. Do not forcefully remove it, as this can lead to additional scarring. Let your body take its natural course and fall off on its own or cover the scab with a bandage to prevent it from being bumped or rubbed off.
Try this trick with a scab
This trick will help the scab naturally progress quicker – to loosen and lift the scab on its own. A wound heals from the edges, in. This trick will help the cells to migrate faster.
- Soak a paper towel with cold water and place on the scab for three to five minutes.
- Remove paper towel and cover the scab with Vaseline and a bandage.
- Repeat this two times a day.
Remember, if there are any concerns please seek medical attention.
Once healed, the area of trauma may have a scar. Scars will change in time and color. Expect possible redness to persist for one year. If any area has limited mobility, see medical attention as scars contract over time. Early intervention will do the skin well.
For scar treatments and how to reduce the appearance of scarring check out How to treat a scar at home article in the March/April issue.
Diane C. Madfes, M.D., P.C. is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in dermatology and dermatologic surgery. Dr. Madfes is a solo practitioner in uptown Manhattan and Greenwich, CT. After receiving her medical degree in 1992, Dr. Madfes completed an internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She then began a three-year residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Madfes is an attending physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York and a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.