Raise your hand if you fell off a scooter/bike/jungle gym when you were younger, and now have the nasty scar to prove it. For me, it was a camp counselor's curling iron that fell on me at summer camp and gave me a third-degree burn on my upper arm that I'm forced to show off now, 15 years later, every time I want to wear a tank top. While scars are a part of our history and part of what makes us unique (insert "Jimmy Eat World" lyric here) they can also be kind of a pain. So what can you actually do to treat your scars?
According to Dr. Jennifer Levine, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to try to prevent scarring in the first place, which requires proper care of your wounds. "If you get a cut, scrape, stitches or even a pimple, you need to keep the wound clean and moist," says. Dr. Levine. "Using an antibiotic cream or hydrogel bandage are good ways to keep bacteria out and give the wound the ideal healing environment." However, even if you're perfect about treating the damage (which also means not picking your scabs), you may still end up with a scar. Some people are just more prone to scarring (lucky us!) and some places on the body are more susceptible to permanent damage.
If you do end up with a scar, here are seven things you can do to take care of it so you aren't stuck looking at it forever. Just note that you may be sacrificing the inevitable "Do you have any scars" icebreaker conversation on future first dates.
1. Don't Freak Out
Everybody, relax — scar formation is a normal part of the healing process. Just because you have a scar now does not necessarily mean it will stick around forever. "Wounds heal and remodel over the course of a year," says Dr. Levine. "For some people collagen production can go into overdrive and this healing tissue may look different or more red than other parts of the skin."
2. Wait Until The Scar Is Actually Formed
This should go without saying, but don't put any scarring treatment products on an open wound. First of all, it's not technically a scar yet, and second of all it can seriously mess with the healing process.
3. Understand That Treatment May Take Time
Sadly, there is no magical overnight solution to rid you of your scarring woes — these things take time, but with the right products it is possible. "The Mederma Advanced Scar Gel is the first and only 1 time daily topical gel formulated to help reduce the appearance of old and new scars and is clinically proven to improve the color, texture, and overall appearance of scars," says Dr. Levine. For older scars, your should expect to see results after using the product daily for 3-6 months. Be patient, young grasshopper!
4. Apply Product At Night
According to Dr. Levine, skin naturally regenerates faster overnight. Try the Mederma PM Overnight Intensive Cream (the first cream of its kind) which works on older scars over the course of 3-6 months.
5. Stay Out Of The Sun
"Exposing the scar to the sun is one of the things that will make a scar worse," says Dr. Levine. "Scars are less resistant to ultraviolet rays and much more prone to sunburn, especially if they are fresh. Prolonged sun exposure can also permanently darken a scar, especially in people with darker skin complexions." Yikes. The Mederma Scar Cream Plus SPF 30 helps protect scars from sunburn, while helping reduce the appearance of old and new scars, so make sure to lather up whenever the area will be exposed.
6. Treat Based On Scar Type
There are three main types of scars, one of which requires a special type of treatment. "Normal" scars are relatively thin, small, and flat; "Hypertrophic" scars are red, thick, and raised; And Keloid scars are also raised, often dark or red, and, unlike hypertrophic scars, expand beyond the contours of the actual wound. For normal scars and hypertrophic scars, a daily topical gel will work in reducing their appearance. However Keloid scars may be genetic, and according to Dr. Levine are best treated by consulting with a medical professional and may need a steroid injection.
7. Consider Surgery
In the case of a really bad scar, talk to your doctor — especially if you've tried topical methods of treatment and nothings seems to be working "Scars are highly individual and scar revision is determined by location, orientation, and size of the scar," says Dr. Levine. "You should consult with a medical professional to determine if surgery is the best treatment for you. Some scars may benefit from laser treatments." No matter how bad it is, Dr. Levine confirms that a scar is always treatable, it's just a matter of finding what works for you.
Images: Bustle; Courtesy of brands