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Every scar has a story behind it. But, when it is your child who has a scar, obviously you will be worried. As a parent, you will think of the possible reasons behind it, bad and worse, but you need not worry. Scars are a normal part of life, particularly for children. It is normal for children to get scars; children play outside in the grass and dirt, fall and wounds and scars become like a part of their skin. However, kids heal fast too. But do you know what a scar actually is and how does it form? Know everything about scars and ways to get rid of them.
What is a Scar?
A scar is characterised by a mark that is usually darker than a person’s natural skin tone; it is caused by the damage and subsequent repair of skin tissue. Damage to the skin can occur from a cut, burn, scrape or sore.
How Does a Scar Form on a Child?
When the skin suffers a wound, connective tissue that are made up of collagen cells are sent by the body to cover up the damaged area. The collagen cells repair and restore skin, over the course of some days. While this restoration of skin is happening underneath, the upper layer dries up, forming a rough, dry, dark patch of covering, called a “scab”. When the skin is fully repaired, the scab is shed off. The ‘repaired’ skin usually has a distinct appearance as compared to the skin surrounding it. This is called a scar. However, every wound doesn’t necessarily cause scarring. Extremely shallow wounds sometimes heal without causing a visible scar formation and scars themselves fade over time.
Medical Treatment for Scars
The formation of a scar is a part of the natural healing process, hence it does not require any treatment. Still, a commonly asked question from new parents is: will my baby’s scar go away? Treatment of scars to minimise their appearance or remove it completely is purely aesthetic. Commonly used medical treatments for scars in children are:
- Scar removal creams: These can be bought from pharmaceutical stores. You should apply it when the wound is freshly healed. Use special scar removal cream specifically created for babies, as normal ones contain steroids that could be harmful to your baby.
- Steroid treatment: Steroid injections are used to treat bumpy and raised scars like keloid scars, which sometimes even expand from the original wound. This type of treatment is rare for children.
- Surgical removal of scars: A surgical procedure is generally done to remove a protruding scar. This is an expensive method, but it usually gets the best results as far as aesthetic appearance is concerned.
- Laser treatment: A highly energised beam is used to burn and remove a large scar tissue. Unlike surgical treatment, laser treatment does not remove the scar, but it is very successful at reducing the appearance of scars. However, a laser treatment is not recommended for a child.
- Silicon sheet therapy: In this type of treatment, a plaster containing silicone gel is stuck on the scar. This therapy can be used on fresh wounds as well as bulging scars. It applies pressure to the wound and prevents the formation of scabs while protecting the inner layers where the collagen is rebuilding the skin tissue. This way, development of a discoloured scar is negated.
- Cryotherapy: This is a method that employs freezing cold temperatures to heal. To remove bulging scars or other outgrowths in cryotherapy, these extruding portions are frozen solid and crumbled away.
All of these treatments, including scar removal cream for babies, shouldn’t be tried without the doctor’s approval. Your doctor is in the best position to determine if the probable side effects of these treatments could be too high for your baby. So, consult with your doctor before you go for any treatment.
Home Remedies for Scars
Home remedies work well for treating scars. Other than hypertrophic and keloid scars, both of which constitute more than just a change of colour or texture or a normal scar, normal scars fade over time without medical treatment.
These home remedies can help quicken the disappearance of scars.
- Aloe Vera: The thick, translucent gel found in aloe vera leaf, is known for its skincare properties. Aloe vera is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal moisturiser. Just cut open an aloe vera leaf to extract the gel. Rub the gel over the wound, leave for 30 minutes and wash away. Do this twice daily.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has been used for ages to get rid of scars. To use coconut oil to treat a scar, heat it in a pan until warm and rub it over the scarred area for 2-4 minutes. This can be repeated up to three times daily.
- Sandalwood: Sandalwood can be purchased in the form of dust. Mix one tablespoon of sandalwood powder with a few drops of carrier oil to form a paste. Use a cotton swab to dab this on the scar and wash after 20 minutes. Repeat twice daily. You can also mix sandalwood powder with turmeric powder in equal ratio, and add some drops of rosewater to make a paste and apply it on the scar.
- Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is one of the essential oils widely used in a lot of skincare products for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties. You can simply add two drops in a spoonful of water and rub it over the scar twice or thrice daily. You can also mix tea tree and coconut oils in a fixed ratio and use in the same way!
- Cocoa Butter: Cocoa butter is a pale yellow vegetable fat that is extracted from cocoa beans. It is the same substance used to make chocolate. It is a natural moisturizer and contains vitamin E, which is useful for skin repair. Use this before going to bed at night. Simply apply some cocoa butter on the scar and massage it on the skin in a circular motion. Leave this overnight. Repeat daily.
- Honey: Honey moisturises the skin, and when dry, exfoliates the skin as you wash it away. Massage a little bit of honey over the scar and cover with a bandage. Leave the bandage on overnight and wash it away in the morning. Repeat daily till the scar fades.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV protects skin from the harmful microbes and contains vitamin C, which helps in repairing the skin. It also dries naturally and helps eliminate dead skin cells. Simply dilute ACV with water, and use a cotton ball soaked in it to dab over your child’s skin. You can also add honey to this mixture, to boost the skin-toning properties of this remedy. Leave it for 30 minutes and wash off. Repeat twice daily.
- Lavender Oil: Lavender oil can be used alone or you can even mix it with olive oil to form a thicker texture. Massage it warm onto the scarred area and leave for 30 minutes before washing it off. Repeat twice daily.
- Olive Oil: Apply olive oil on the scar and massage gently. Leave it for 30 minutes to dry. Simply wipe away excess oil with a tissue or paper towel. Repeat twice daily.
- Toothpaste: Toothpaste is used to treat scars of acne and other skin sores. Rub a pea-sized amount of toothpaste over the scar and leave it overnight before washing it away. Note that toothpaste has a burning effect, so it shouldn’t be used on unhealed scars that your baby may have.
How Can Scars Be Prevented?
Prompt action taken when the wound is suffered can minimise scar formation. Scar tissue is most active in the first few minutes after the occurrence of the wound. Keep applying steady pressure for 10 minutes or more on a fresh wound.
In case of face injury, apply pressure to the scar using clean gauze. This prevents the formation of hard tissue, leading to scarring. However, the wound needs to be washed and cleaned before doing this or foreign matter like dirt could get stuck in, causing dark spots after healing.
Wounds in children heal at a rapid rate. However, a boost in nutrition is always a help. Vitamin C is essential for healing a scar, so include vitamin C in your baby’s diet.
What If the Scar Gets Bigger and Does Not Fade Away?
The formation of scars is unpredictable; however, they fade away rather quickly in young ones. For example, simply try remembering how many scars you still have, that you got as a child? Only deep scars remain for years.
There are two types of scar formation that actually gets bigger instead of fading.
- Hypertrophic Scar: These scars are bumpy and raised from surrounding skin. They do not spread outside the site of the initial wound. Hypertrophic scars mostly form on burn wounds.
- Keloid: Keloid scars are smooth and raised, and resemble blisters. This kind of a scar could spread beyond the original wound, over the surrounding skin to form large, unsightly patches.
If such a scar appears on a prominent part of the body, like the face, you should refer to your paediatrician. The paediatrician will be able to identify the type of scar and give further advice on how to reduce scars on a child’s face through medical treatment.
As parents, we always want the best for our children. Children also get an inferiority complex if they have scars on their face thinking that people may stay away from them. Though we cannot control how other people react, we can only show love and support to our kids and encourage them to look beyond their scars.
Also Read: Burn Injury in Children