This is the first of a series of posts I’ll be doing with Dr Claire Jamieson from cult local skincare brand, Ordinary Skincare.
I wanted to team with a doctor to create posts that answer skincare questions outside the realms of what I normally write about. I’m a huge fan of the Ordinary Skincare range, so collaborating with them seemed like a perfect match (These are not sponsored or paid for posts, I just love the brand). These posts are going to be more in-depth and will be more information rather than product driven. Dr Claire has included her recommendations from her range in the copy, and I’ve added direct links to their product pages.
As I’ve just had a C- Section, I thought I’d start with scars. Below is pretty much everything you need to know about scars; what they are, how they form and how to treat them.
What is a scar?
A scar is formed when the skin is injured or cut and is the result of the remarkable healing process. Cells called fibroblasts are triggered to make fibres and collagen that “sew” the skin back together. The skin of a scar is not as strong as normal skin but most scars fade away and become unnoticeable.
What is a keloid?
A keloid occurs when the skin cells make too many fibroblasts and the scar tissue overgrows into normal skin. A true keloid can be unsightly, itchy and even painful. They may need to be medically treated. They are not the same as hypertrophic scars, which are red thickened scars that also itch but do fade and flatten with time.
Why is darker skin more prone to keloid?
The predisposition of skin to keloid is genetic. If you have a family member who develops keloids you have a greater chance of making a keloid too. There is not enough research on this but exactly why dark skin is more likely to keloid is unknown. There is a suggestion it may be related to the amount of melanin the skin cells but this is uncertain.
Can one remove a scar entirely?
Complete removal of a scar is not possible but it can be minimized. There are ways to help the scar to heal, and lessen thickening and stretching. Plastic surgery can hide scars so well that they appear invisible.
How soon after surgery should you start treating a scar and for how long?
- A fresh wound should be kept clean and covered with a breathable dressing unless otherwise directed by the doctor. In the early stages the wound should not be soaked or exposed to prolonged wetness, however it should not be allowed to dry out either.
- After the first week or two when the stitches are removed and there is no infection the wound may be gently cleaned with warm water. Avoid detergents and greasy creams or anything that irritates the skin as this simply increases inflammation. Do not pick scabs, as this invites infection. Infection results in scarring.
- Covering the fresh healed scar with silicone tape can reduce thickening and redness, but paper tape can work just as well. The main objective is to prevent stretching or tension on the scar especially in the first 12 weeks after surgery.
- Use sunscreen.
- Keep the scar well moisturized with a plain emollient.
- Massage has been shown to help soften a hypertrophic scar but wait at least 3 months.
Does Vitamin E really assist in fading/healing?
No it does not. Many people swear by Vitamin E oil but there is no scientific evidence that Vitamin E oil will do anything to reduce scarring. It may even make scars worse as there is a risk of contact dermatitis. The true healer is simply time.
What about light therapy for healing scars?
Light therapy could mean LED light therapy that is used for acne. It does not help scarring. It can also refer to laser procedures and they can work well.
As far as sunlight is concerned the consistent opinion of medical specialists is to keep scars out of the sun. The scar skin has no or little melanin and is not protected from UV radiation. (Ordinary Skincare Day Cream SPF30 is perfect as it delivers moisture and sunscreen).
Are there any other options available for treating scars?
There is some reliable evidence that massage to a healed scar (after 12 weeks) may soften it and reduce thickening. This should be done gently and daily, massaging in small circles with whatever emollient is available. (The Ordinary Skincare Moisturising Balm works brilliantly).
There are medical treatments for unsightly scars including laser therapy, micro needling and injection of cortisone into scar tissue. In severe scarring removal of the scar may be necessary. (A Z-plasty is an incision that allows scar removal and the skin is rejoined into a Z shape to reduce tension on the new healing scar).
The next post will be about sun protection and SPF, so if you have any questions about sun care for Dr Claire, pop them in the comment box below.