Jasmine Han, PharmD Candidate
How can I get rid of my scars?
If you clicked on this article, it might be safe to say you have a stubborn scar that you can’t seem to get rid of. Whether it’s from a little accident, maybe a scuffle with a pet, or even a past surgery, we all have scars on our body. And among these scars, some stick around a little longer than others in spots that we may not be comfortable with. Scars can be quite frustrating and stressful for some of us, so what can we do about it?
What exactly is a scar, anyway?
A scar is a long-lasting mark that is left over after an injury, such as a sore, cut or burn when our body grows new tissue over the injured skin.1 This new tissue is made of tough, white fibers called collagen that act as a bridge connecting the new tissue.1
So, how do you treat scars?
Before seeking treatment, it’s important to note that there are different types of scars:1,2,3
- Keloid scars are uniquely large and lumpy scars that are often itchy or painful. They are more commonly seen on darker skin and often appear on the earlobes, chest, shoulders, upper arms, and cheeks. They sometimes occur after healing of acne.
- Contracture scars are scars often caused by burns where the skin shrinks and tightens. You may experience restriction in your movement with these scars.
- Hypertrophic scars are the typical, flatter scars often associated with injuries, burns or surgeries. They’re more easily seen in lighter skinned individuals, usually in areas with high skin tension like the shoulders, neck, knees, and ankles.
- Striae distensae: Commonly known as stretch marks, Striae distensae occur when the skin is rapidly stretched or extended over a certain area.
So, what products are out there, that actually work?
- Silicone gel/sheeting (Dermatix® Ultra Gel)
Silicone gel/sheeting by far is the best management approach for the scar treatment. Research has shown that using silicone gel/sheeting for 12-24 hours a day for 2-3 months can flatten, soften and smooth scars.1 Silicone has been found to relieve the itching, discomfort, redness, and discoloration associated with various scar types.1,4 On top of these benefits, silicone is associated with minimal side effects including as redness, pain or irritation to the skin,4 making it a great option for those with stubborn scars. Silicone should only be used on closed wounds and away from eyes and mouth. Users should also avoid applying silicone over antibiotics and other skin treatments.4
- Topical onion extract (Mederma®)
For those who prefer natural products, topical onion extract can be used for the treatment of scars as an alternative to silicone gel/sheeting. It has been shown to work best when used twice a day for three months or more. However, evidence shows that silicone gel/sheeting is superior to topical onion extract for improving scar appearance.2,4
Bio-Oil® is a cosmetic product consisting of vitamins and plant extracts with an oil base,3 known for its claims to improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks.6 It’s best to use Bio-Oil® by massaging it in a circular motion into the scar twice a day for at least three months for improvement.5 Just like silicone gel/sheeting, Bio-Oil® should be applied only on closed wounds.6 One study demonstrated that Bio-Oil® improved the visual appearance of stretch marks after two weeks. However, more research is needed to understand its effects on other scars.3 Until then, though, there are very few side effects associated with this product, so it could be worth a try.
- Topical Vitamin E
Even though widely used for the treatment of scars, there isn’t actually enough data to support using topical vitamin E to heal scars.7 Further studies are needed to get a better understanding of vitamin E and scar healing.7 Although there doesn’t seem to be any significant side effects, some individuals can experience an irritating skin reaction.7
So are you saying that there isn’t a way to get rid of my scar?
At this point, there’s still no product that can completely remove scars. However, as mentioned above, some products can minimize their appearance. Additionally, you can also minimize scars by adequately hydrating the scar, ensuring UV protection using sunscreen and using proper wound closure.
As always, consult a healthcare practitioner if you’re curious about which of these products could serve you best. Feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
- Del Toro D, Dedhia R, Tollefson TT. Advances in scar management: Prevention and management of hypertrophic scars and keloids. Current opinion in otolaryngology & head and neck surgery 2016 Aug;24(4):322-329.
- Hague A, Baya A. Therapeutic targets in the management of striae distensae: A systemic review. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 3017 Sep 8,:4604.
- Bio-Oil [Internet]. Bio-oil.com. 2018 [cited 13 February 2018]. Available from: https://www.bio-oil.com/ca/ca-en
- Tanaydin V, Conings J, Malyar M, van der Hulst R, van der Lei B. The role of topical vitamin E in scar management: A systematic review. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2016 Sep;36(8):959-965.