The skin is the largest and most vulnerable organ of the human body. Along with protecting internal organs and tissues from injury and regulating body temperature, healthy skin is also a symbol of beauty.
Scars, which represent the aftermath of the healing process that skin goes through after trauma, flaws skin’s appearance by causing unevenness and discoloration.
There are several secondary causes of scarring, which include surgery, burns and accidental and intentional trauma to the skin.
As skin heals, it increases the production of protein (collagen), a compound called fibroblasts and blood supply, which strengthens tissues at the site of trauma. However, when the healing process happens aggressively, excess collagen and proteins form scars that appear as red, raised and lumpy skin.
Permanent scars are typically caused by damage to the dermis or hypodermis (deep, thick tissues) of the skin. Scarred skin does not sweat, grow hair or protect itself adequately from sun damage.
Once the healing process is complete, blood supply to the tissues returns to normal. Some of the excess collagen is also broken down, causing the skin to regain its normal color while flattening scars in the process.
Here are some additional facts about scars and scarring:
- They are incredibly common, with most individuals getting at least one scar during their lifetime.
- Factors such as heredity, age, sex and ethnicity can influence the tendency for scarring.
- The type of wound (including how deep it is and its location on the body) influences the kind of scar that develops.
- They can happen both inside (due to surgery) and outside the body.
- Scars become wide and stretched when they happen to skin located joints of the body such as knees and elbows.
Most scars are considered to be permanent. However, they can fade and become less noticeable for two years after the initial trauma. After this amount of time, they are less likely to continue to show improvement.
Areas of the body that are prone to scarring include the shoulders, back, chest and earlobes. However, every individual’s skin reacts differently to trauma and the eventual formation of scars.
While scars are not usually considered to be attractive, they serve an important purpose for protecting and healing the body.
Types of Scars
Scars can be classified in several groups, which include the following:
- Keloid Scars
A common type of scar among people with darker skin tones, keloids happen when skin heals too aggressively.
Keloids are raised scars that also grow outside the immediate area of skin injury. Depending on its location and size, a keloid can cause mobility issues.
If treated with pressure from silicone sheets or gel pads immediately after injury, skin prone to keloids can be spared from their formation.
While cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen treatment) is ideal for small keloids, larger scars can be treated with steroid injections, silicone sheets and surgery.
- Contracture scars
Usually a result of burned skin, contracture scars shrink the skin and make it tighter, which can impair mobility. This type of scarring can also cause issues for nerves and muscles because they go deep into layers of the skin.
- Hypertrophic scars
Very similar in appearance to keloids, hypertrophic scars are raised, however they do not extend outside the area of injury. They happen when there is excessive tissue produced by skin’s healing process and often remain raised and red several years after the initial injury.
Silicone sheets and steroids are the best treatments for this scar type, as they flatten scars while also addressing inflammation.
- Acne Scars
Individuals who suffer with moderate to severe acne usually have scars after the acne heals. Scarring related to acne comes in three main forms:
- Flat and pale or hyper-pigmented scars: Flat scars are the most common and usually appear initially as red and raised areas of skin. However, they are usually not permanent and fade relatively quickly, getting flatter and paler within two years.
- Deep pitted scars (also known as atrophic or “ice pick” scars): These scars have a sunken appearance and typically form on cheeks after dealing with cystic acne.
- Wave-like, angular scars: These scars are typically caused by extensive and prolonged cystic acne and require aggressive treatment for bringing the skin back to its original texture.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Scars
The following are home remedies proven effective for healing scars and reducing the appearance of scar tissue.
- Vitamin E
Many individuals report improvements in scars after applying vitamin E oil or cream on a regular basis. However, studies show that putting vitamin E directly on scars can actually prevent them from healing as quickly as they should.
In fact, for the vast majority of people in the study, vitamin E either made no improvement to scarring or made it worse, with a third of all study participants developing contact dermatitis as a result of treatment.
Contrary to this, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that Vitamin E is great for skin and helps in fading scars and marks. The best solution is trying it out, as different people have different responses to the same treatment. Experimenting with vitamin E oil is harmless, and in the event that undesirable effects do develop, discontinue use immediately.
- Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is a natural moisturizer that penetrates deeply into dry skin helping to make it smoother and softer. Rich in Vitamin E, cocoa butter helps to repair skin, treat scar tissue and fade discoloration.
It is especially effective for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy when applied to the body several times a day on a regular basis.
- Exfoliate skin thoroughly using a coarse, wet washcloth.
- Using firm circular motions, rub a generous amount of cocoa butter into the skin.
Repeat this treatment three times daily for several weeks for best results.
Lemon juice is rich in alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) which help to rejuvenate the skin and improve its elasticity. AHA’s also remove dead and damaged skin cells, which allows new skin cells to emerge.
The juice lightens skin discolorations and acne scarring gradually due its gentle bleaching action.
- Clean the affected area of skin thoroughly.
- Use a cotton ball to apply a teaspoon of lemon juice to the scar.
- Let the juice remain on the skin for up to ten minutes before rinsing it with water.
Drinking water with lemon juice twice daily for fifteen days also has a positive effect on the health of the skin.
Warning: Apply sunscreen to skin treated with lemon juice to decrease sun sensitivity.
- Raw Honey
With regular use raw honey (particularly maunka honey with high UMF factor) is an effective natural moisturizer and anti-bacterial compound that fades and removes scars and heals skin while also facilitating skin regeneration.
- Combine two tablespoons of raw honey and two tablespoons of baking soda.
- Apply to scars and massage it in for approximately three minutes.
- Dip a washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess before placing it over the affected skin.
- Let the washcloth cool completely before wiping the area clean.
Repeat the treatment twice daily for best results.
Warning: Treatment with honey is not recommended for individuals with oily skin.
- Onion Juice Extract
The anti-inflammatory compounds in onions help to prevent and reduce scarring by slowing the formation of collagen.
- Rub onion juice extract (in gel form) directly into scars each day.
Results typically become apparent after several months of treatment so this method requires patience and consistency.
- Aloe Vera
The anti-inflammatory compounds in aloe vera help to soothe and heal skin while reducing swelling and the appearance of scars. It also helps by removing dead skin cells and reducing irritation, while regenerating and fortifying new tissues.
Available in several applications that include gels, ointments and lotions, aloe vera is most effective when it is applied two to three times a day in its unprocessed natural form.
- Cut an aloe vera leaf in half before scraping the gel from it.
- Apply the gel to the scar and massage it in thoroughly.
- Indian Gooseberry
Rich in vitamin C, Indian gooseberry (also called Amla) helps to reduce the formation of scar tissue if applied shortly after the initial skin trauma.
Available in a ready-to-use paste and in powder form, the Indian gooseberry treatment is very simple to make.
- Combine Amla powder with enough water to make a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste to the scarred skin and massage it in thoroughly.
Cucumber paste (which can be purchased or made at home) helps to soften and hydrate scarred skin.
Along with being made up of ninety percent water, cucumbers are affordable, readily available and non-irritating to most skin.
- Put a slice of cucumber (raw) or cucumber juice directly onto a scar.
- Blend one cucumber (remove the skin and seeds first) with four or five mint leaves and one beaten egg.
- Apply the mixture to the affected skin and let it sit for twenty minutes.
- Rinse and dry the skin thoroughly.
Repeat this treatment several times a week for best results.
- Tea Tree Oil
The anti-bacterial properties in tea tree oil help to remove acne and surgical scars gradually.
- Combine warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil to make a rinse.
- Apply the rinse to scarred skin, before washing it away with clean water and drying with a towel.
Warning: The antibacterial compounds in tea tree oil may cause a stinging or tingling sensation. Always dilute tea tree oil with water to reduce its potency and the chances of skin irritation. Perform a patch test before use and see a dermatologist immediately if the sensation lingers.
- Turmeric, Yogurt and Lemon Juice
- Combine half a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of yogurt and four or five drops of lemon juice in a small bowl.
- Apply the mixture over scars and let it sit for ten minutes before rinsing it away.
For best results repeat the treatment for several days.
- Olive Oil
The high antioxidant properties of olive oil, along with its acidity, vitamin E and vitamin K content help to heal, moisturize and rejuvenate scar tissue while fading discoloration.
- Massage the affected skin with up to one tablespoon of 100% extra virgin olive oil (depending on the size of the scar) for up to five minutes to break up scar tissue.
- Let the oil sit for approximately ten minutes before wiping it away with a clean washcloth.
For best results apply olive oil twice daily for at least a week.
- Egg Whites
Egg whites contain proteins that help to rejuvenate skin, fading scars and stretchmarks in the process.
- Apply egg whites directly to the affected skin up to three times each day.
- Rosehip Seed Oil
The oil extracted from rosehip seeds is a common ingredient in scar removal creams.
- Use fingers to apply rosehip seed oil directly onto scars and massage it in thoroughly.
For best results repeat twice daily.
- Ice Cubes
- Rub ice cubes directly into scars to help them fade quickly.
- Sandalwood Powder
The skin regenerating compounds in sandalwood help to lighten scars and remove excess scar tissue.
- Make a paste by combining one tablespoon of pure sandalwood powder with rosewater (or milk, if desired).
- Apply the paste to scars, leave it on overnight and rinse it away the next morning with warm water.
For best results repeat daily for one to two months.
- Soak two or three almonds in water overnight before peeling and mashing them into a paste.
- Combine the mash almonds with several drops of rosewater and apply the mixture directly to scars.
- Fade discoloration by applying potato juice directly on scars or rubbing a potato slice into scarred tissue.
- Coconut Oil
The antioxidant properties of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil help to stimulate the production of collagen, reverse free radical damage, speed healing, soften scar tissue and minimize the appearance of scars.
- Heat a teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil before massaging it into scar tissue using circular motions.
For best results, do this treatment several times daily until the scar shows improvement.
- Lavender Oil
The skin rejuvenating compounds in lavender oil improve the appearance of scarring, especially in keloids. It does this by improving the skin’s rate of regeneration and fading discoloration.
- Place a few drops of lavender oil directly onto the scar and massage it in for at least fifteen minutes using slow circular motions.
- Combine equal parts olive oil and lavender oil before massaging it into the affected skin for a few minutes.
For best results, use either treatment twice daily for a few weeks.
Use fenugreek in two ways to heal scars:
- Mash boiled fenugreek seeds into a paste and apply it to scars.
- Crush fenugreek leaves into a smooth paste and apply it to scars.
Note: Store the paste in a cool dark location for maximum potency.
Tomato works to reduce scar discoloration.
- Massage the scar with tomato juice, or apply a tomato slice directly over the affected areas.
- Yogurt Mix
Yogurt is very effective for treating burn related scarring.
- Apply a paste made of equal parts yogurt, barley and turmeric to scars daily.
- Baking Soda
- Combine one tablespoon of water and five tablespoons of baking soda to make a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste to scars and let it dry completely before washing it away.
For best results do this treatment three times a week.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
The acid in apple cider vinegar helps to exfoliate dead skin cells and fade discoloration, which improves the appearance of scars.
- Use a cotton ball to apply apple cider vinegar to scarred skin.
- Let the ACV sit for between ten and fifteen minutes before rinsing with water.
- Apply moisturizer to the scar.
Repeat this treatment several times daily for a few weeks for best results.
Warning: Dilute apple cider vinegar before use to prevent skin irritation.
- Salt Scrub
- Exfoliate dead skin cells, fade scarring and make skin shiny with a salt and papaya scrub.
- Chamomile Tea
- Fade scars gradually by washing them with chamomile tea.
- Cod Liver Oil
- Reduce the appearance of scars by applying cod liver oil daily.
- Make a paste with two crushed aspirins and a few drops of water before applying it directly to scars.
- Azadirachta Indica (Neem)
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds in neem help to fade scars while correcting other skin issues.
- Crush several azadirachta indica leaves into a smooth paste before applying it to scars.
- Fuller’s Earth
- Combine a tablespoon of fuller’s earth with one tablespoon of rosewater and one tablespoon of lemon juice to form a smooth paste.
- Apply two layers of the paste over the scar and rub it in gently.
- Let the paste dry for fifteen minutes before washing it off thoroughly.
- Garlic Oil
The antibiotic properties in garlic oil make it an effective treatment for scars.
- Apply several drops of garlic oil directly onto scars and rub it in.
- Let the oil sit for up to 1 minute.
- Gotu Kola
Along with improving circulation, gotu kola speeds the healing process of scars and reduces their appearance.
- Make a paste from the leaves of the gotu kola.
- Apply it to scars daily.
- Salicylic Acid
- Salicylic acid, which is excellent for seeing improvements in bad scarring can be obtained in lotion and cream form.
- Flaxseed Oil
- Flaxseed oil, which is available at most health food stores, helps to heal recent and older scars when applied several times each day (after showering and before going to sleep).
- Vitamin K
- Treatment with topical vitamin K cream usually shows improvements to scarring within a few weeks to several months when used two times a day. However, the rate of improvement depends on how bad the scar is.
- Castor Oil
Castor oil contains properties that help to soften and break up scar tissue over time.
- Apply castor oil liberally to the affected area before wrapping it with plastic.
- Place a heating pad (tolerably hot) on top of the treatment area and leave it in place for twenty to twenty five minutes.
- Repeat daily.
Results from this treatment usually become apparent within seven days.
Warning: Do this treatment exclusively with food grade plastic that does not contain bisphenol, which is damaging to health.
- Homeopathic Remedies
There are three effective homeopathic remedies for scar treatment, which include Thiosinaminum (extracted from mustard seed oil and available in capsules), Thuja and Arnica. Each treatment works to heal skin damaged by scarring.
There are several medical grade treatment options available for individuals with scarring. The most beneficial treatment depends on the type of scaring involved.
While scars will probably never go away completely, they will fade over time and there can be a dramatic improvement in their appearance after treatment.
- OTC or Prescription Creams, Ointments, or Gels
Usually used for sensitive skin types and to treat the itching associated with scarring. OTC creams, gels, salves, lotions, poultices and ointments can contain steroids, antihistamine ingredients and in some cases, silicone.
Silicone scar treatments help to make scars look flatter and lighter. It comes in gel or sheet form and is an extremely effective option for treating scars, often prescribed by doctors.
- Gel silicone is used by putting it directly on areas of skin with scarring.
- Silicone sheets have an adhesive quality and are usually reusable for up to 4 weeks, which makes them easy to use and economical.
- Place silicon sheets over the affected skin and, if necessary, use additional medical tape to secure them.
Leave each silicon treatment in place for several hours before removing it for best results.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s)
Usually sold as skin moisturizers, alpha hydroxy acids improve the appearance of scars by sloughing off dead cells on the topmost layer of skin. The natural fruit acids in AHA’s, which can irritate skin, are typically available in varying strengths.
- Cortisone Injections
Keloid and hypertrophic scars that “stick out” benefit from treatment with cortisone injections. It works by making the scars shrink and look flatter. The physician may utilize other treatments alongside the injections.
- Laser Treatment
Reduces red and raised scars by focusing a high energy light on the affected skin to improve its appearance.
- Surgical Scar Revision
Surgical revision of scars makes them shorter, thinner and less visible by hiding them in places such as hairlines and wrinkles. The surgeon removes scar tissue before joining healthy skin tissues together to heal seamlessly.
Surgery can greatly improve functional issues associated with scarring. However, experts recommend waiting no less than a year to see if scars improve and fade on their own before resorting to surgical removal.
Improve skin smoothness and evenness with Dermabrasion, which utilizes a motor powered wire brush to remove the top layers of the skin to reduce the appearance of scar tissue. The procedure may be slightly uncomfortable, however, it is fast and does not require anesthesia.
- Soft Tissue Fillers
Doctors often treat small, soft and indented scars with collagen or fat, which is injected under the skin an effective but short-term solution.
- Punch Grafts
Punch grafting utilizes small portions of healthy, scar-free skin to correct areas with scarring. It accomplishes this by first removing the scarred skin with a specialized round cutting tool. Next, the healthy skin is grafted onto the previously scarred piece of skin to normalize it. This type of surgery is used regularly to treat burn victims.
- Chemical Peels
Less suitable for large scars, chemical peels help to smooth out scar tissue by removing the top layer of skin.
Cryosurgery involves removing extra tissues from scars by freezing the topmost layers of skin, which induces blistering.
- Cosmetic Camouflage (make-up)
While it does not offer a permanent solution to scaring, cosmetic camouflage works to mask the appearance of scars on a temporary basis.