Skin

Updated 17 June 2015

Dermatologist's tips for reducing scars after cuts and scrapes

Prevent a minor scrape or cut by forming a scar with these top self-care tips.

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Everybody has to contend with scrapes, cuts and scratches from time to time and, depending on your type of skin, it can result in unsightly scars. 

Dr Ellen Marmur, professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says there are a number of things you can do to reduce scarring.

"The appearance of a scar often depends on how well your wound heals. While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating your wound at home," she said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

Read: Everything you need to know about wound healing

Tips for reducing the appearance of scars caused by minor skin injuries.

Gently wash the injury site with water to remove debris and keep out germs. Thorough wound cleaning reduces the risk of tetanus. Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is a preventable disease that affects the muscles and nerves, usually due to a contaminated puncture wound.

Apply petroleum jelly to keep the wound from drying out and forming a scab as wounds with scabs take longer to heal.

Petroleum jelly will also prevent a scar from getting too large, deep or itchy. If you clean the wound daily, you don't need to use antibacterial ointments.

After cleaning the wound and applying petroleum jelly or a similar ointment, cover the wound with an adhesive bandage. Change the bandage daily to keep the wound clean while it heals.

For larger scrapes, sores, burns or wounds with persistent redness, hydrogel or silicone gel sheets (available from pharmacies) may be helpful.

A wound that cuts deeply through the skin or is gaping or jagged-edged and has fat or muscle protruding usually requires stitches. If your wound requires stitches, follow your doctor's advice on caring for the wound and when to have the stitches removed. This may help minimise the scar.

After the wound heals, apply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to the site when you go outside. This may reduce red or brown discoloration and help the scar fade faster..

Health24's Skin Expert also recommends a product called ScarScience that can help if the scar is still 'young', ie, within a year of forming. You can also regularly apply Bio-Oil®, vitamin E cream or tissue oil to diminish a scar.

Although no scar can be completely eliminated, most scars do fade over time. If you're worried about the appearance of a scar, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can answer your questions and talk about ways to make your scar less visible..

Read more:

 Hollywood stars who battle scars

Manage your scars and stretchmarks
Treatment options for acne scars

Image: scar, Shutterstock

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Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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