Scarring is a very common problem and for some people it can be a real struggle. It’s not uncommon to be an adult with scars from teenage acne. Every break of the skin, whether it’s surgical or accidental, can be susceptible to scarring, e.g. inflammation can leave unflattering marks. Today we’ll discuss how we can best reduce the appearance of a scar, and what are the best natural remedies that encourage healing ?
How does a scar develop ?
A scar is a mark that is often visible, caused by a cut or an injury. Scars appear when the skin suffers a deep incision that goes through the epidermis and touches the dermis. If a wound bleeds, this means that dermis has been reached, but if the wound is only superficial or only the epidermis is touched, there will not be a scar.
The appearance of scars is never the same for everyone. They can be small or big in size, light or dark in color, deep or not, according to the trauma suffered by the skin (cut, burn, incision, acne etc.). Depending on where they are and their severity, scars can be a real struggle for some people.
To what extent can we act against a scar ?
For the first 18 months, scars are still developing. During the skin repairing process, the scar will change in appearance several times :
- Inflammatory phase (1st-8th day) : the scar is red and swollen
- Neo Angiogenic phase : new blood vessels form
- Collagen synthesis phase : fibres that support the skin develop
- Remodelling phase (from 6 months to 18 months) this last stage of reconstruction is the longest stage and lasts for several months.
After 18 months, the scar is mature and will have taken on its definitive appearance, so it will no longer be possible to make them disappear (at least with natural methods)
The problems with healing
There are several irregularities that can occur during skin healing :
- Acne scars worry more people than you would think. They are characterized by brownish marks or scars with a “crater” aspect. Acne can be a problem for teenagers but it is also affect adults, especially women. As I mentioned earlier, I recommend treating acne naturally.
- Hypertrophic scars are characterized by their domed appearance. Their appearance continues to change past the 18 months that scars normally develop for. They normally have a reddish appearance, can be itchy and occur when the healing process is interrupted by foreign bodies. Their size is limited to the area of the original wound.
- A keloid scar is different to a hypertrophic scar as the scar tissue is not limited to the area of the original wound. It can spread to other parts of the skin. This type of scar also continues to develop past the maturation phase and can occur after burns or medical operations.
Luckily, most scars heal normally. This means that you can keep dermatological or surgical remedies as a very last resort.
How to improve the appearance of a scar
There is no miracle treatment to get rid of scars and after 18 months, a scar is considered mature and will not disappear without specialist intervention (dermatological or surgical)
Vitamin A and silicon are your best friends
Because good healing is helped by a good diet, I recommend that you integrate foods that are rich in vitamin A and silicon into your diet. Vitamin A encourages healing and exists in lots of vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, spinach, broccoli and red peppers. Fruits such as melon and apricot are also rich in vitamin A. Silicon helps to refirm and improves the elasticity of the skin. You can find silicon in grains such as whole rice and oats. Cucumber, leek, beetroot and onions are also good sources of silicon.
It’s important to know that how quickly or slowly healing happens is dependent on different factors : age, origin, current medical treatments etc. For example, the finer skin of children or older people means their skin heals easier. However, hispanic, black and asian skin tends to find healing more difficult. These types of skin also have a higher risk of developing keloid scars than white skin. Medical treatments that include immunosuppressors or anti-inflammatories can also affect the healing process.
Beware of smoking and the sun
The first thing to do to improve the appearance of scars is to avoid the sun at all costs. When a wound or scar is exposed to sunlight, you will increase the production of melanin and will therefore make the scar more obvious as it will get darker. That’s the last thing you want ! The sun also speeds up skin aging. If you would like to know more, read my article on the dangers of UV rays for the skin.
Smoking is just as harmful since carbon monoxide and nicotine act as vasoconstrictors. In other words, they will reduce the number of blood vessels, which has a damaging effect on the neo angiogenic phase (repairing blood vessels)
Which products will help healing ?
Disinfect the wound to avoid infections
Firstly, to facilitate skin repair, it’s essential to delicately disinfect the wound by gently cleaning it. Any infection can impede the skin’s healing so this step is crucial.
To naturally disinfect your wounds, use essential Tea tree oil (Melaleuca Terniflora) rather than commercial quaternary ammonium, iodine or alcohol antiseptics. Essential tea tree oil has a powerful antimicrobial power with a broad spectrum of action, which doesn’t harm the bacteria that is beneficial to our skin flora. It can be used in its pure form but I always prefer to dilute it in plant-based oils.
My recipe for natural disinfectant : ½ teaspoon of essential tea tree oil mixed with 3 tablespoons of the regenerating and revitalizing oil composition. Warning : this essential oil is not to be used by women who are 0-5 months pregnant or children under the age of 3.
Do not scrub off any scab that forms over your wound as it’s an important part of the healing process. Your skin will tend to dry out so to overcome this dehydration and facilitate healing, protect the wound. This protection will also include avoiding all exterior irritants.
However, I recommend that you avoid occlusive silicone-based (methicone) dressings. Although they maintain good surface-level hydration (lid effect) they do not nourish the skin. Try plant-based oils instead as their principal active ingredients will penetrate the skin unlike mineral oils which do not have any beneficial effect. Apply a plant-based oil or butter several times a day to protect your skin against dehydration. By doing this, you will avoid the area drying out and make sure your skin gets all the necessary ingredients to regenerate the skin (see my recipe above)
Which natural ingredients should I use to reduce the appearance of scars ?
One of the natural ingredients that encourages healing is horsetail infusion. Its main ingredients such as silica, are known to facilitate the healing of wounds. Boil the dried horsetail in a litre of water and once it has cooled down, apply it to the wound as many times as necessary during the day.
For those who like to use honey, try an organic honey. Honey contains moisturizing, antioxidant and antibiotic properties so it is ideal to help with healing. Apply it 3 times a day by massaging it into the skin for a minimum of 10 minutes.
I recommend that you use plant based oils and butters as they have lots of advantages for the skin. They are full of of active ingredients that nourish, soothe and protect the skin. Certain essential oils are also useful when they are mixed with plant-based oils and massaged as a balm into the skin.
Here are some plant-based and essential oils that are known to help heal skin tissue :
- Plant based oils and butters (rich in vitamin E) : shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), musk rose oil (Rosa Rubiginosa), macadamia oil (Macadamia ternifolia), pumpkin seed oil (Curcubita Pepo), dog rose oil (Rosa Canina). Even better, the composition of regenerating and revitalizing organic plant-based oils brings together 15 plant-based oils with healing properties.
- Essential oils : rosemary verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis verbenoniferum), lavender aspic (Lavendula latifolia cineolifera), Italian helicrysis (Helichrysum Italicum)
oOlution has created Light Up, a unifying, ultra-concentrated serum with more than 70 organic plant-based active ingredients – ideal for reducing the appearance of scars 😉
For amateur home-cosmetics creators, here is my recipe for a balm to reduce the appearance of a new or old scar (1ml = 35 drops)
- Essential cistus oil (Cistus ladaniferus) : 20 drops
- Essential bourbon geranium oil (Pelargonium aspercum cv Bourbon) : 20 drops
- Essential italian helicrysis oil (Helichrysum Italicum) : 15 drops
- Essential rosemary verbenone oil (Rosmarinus officinalis verbenoniferum) : 20 drops
- Essential lavender oil (Lavendula angustifolia) : 20 drops
- Shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii) : 40ml (36g)
- Plant based rose musk oil (Rosa Rubiginosa) and / or macadamia (Macadamia ternifolia) and / or dog rose (Rosa Canina) and / or pumpkin seed (Curcubita Pepo) and or regenerating and revitalizing oil composition : 20 ml (total)
- Vitamin E (Tocopherol) : 0.5 ml
Firstly, heat the shea butter in a bain marie. Once it has melted, add the plant-based oils. Pour the mixture into a glass pot away from the heat and leave it to cool. Once the mixture has cooled (it doesn’t have to solidify), add the essential oils. Be careful, essential oils are volatile and very sensitive to heat. Close the pot and place it into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Your balm is now ready.
The secret to improving the appearance of scar is to massage them regularly over several months. This helps to keep the skin’s suppleness and elasticity. You could also go to an osteopath who will be able to act on the scar with the stimulation of fasciae (tissue underneath the scar)
6 pieces of advice to improve the appearance of a scar :
- Don’t let the wound get infected
- Don’t scrub off the scab
- Cover your scars (keep out of the sun as it causes hyperpigmentation)
- Avoid smoking
- Eat lots of foods rich in vitamin A and silicon
- Protect and hydrate the scar with plant-based oils and / or butters
- Massage the area regularly over several months to maintain the suppleness and firmness of the skin
Remember, prevention is always better than cure ! If you want to reduce the appearance of your scars with natural solutions, adopt good habits from the get go, your skin will thank you.
How about you ? What are your natural remedies to improve the appearance of scars ?
This post is also available in french.