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Erasing scars: Methods, products that can help fade scars faster

Friday, August 3, 2012

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Lemons, massages, ice, coco butter and bananas. These are not exactly everyday, commonly grouped items.

However, when dealing with scars, these items along with others may be the ticket to a clear complexion.

Dr. Charles Moon, dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology of Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau, said patients should remember no proven prescription has been found to reduce the visibility of scarring in legitimate medical studies.

"There are some things that aid in wound healing, but not necessarily in reducing the appearance of the scar once it is established," he said.

An important first step after being wounded is to keep the area of skin moist with a sterile ointment such as Vaseline or Bactroban, Moon said. Keeping the wounded area occluded will help to speed up the healing process.

The time it takes for a scar to appear after wounding occurs depends on several factors. The type of injury, the age of the injured individual and where on the body the injury is located all affect the amount of time it takes for a wound to heal. Moon said that legs typically heal slowly and scar over a span that could take weeks to months. However, due to good circulation, the face, scalp and hands typically develop into the early stages of scarring somewhere between one to two weeks.

"More importantly, the body will remodel the site of injury/scar over the course of a year," he said. "Therefore, a scar at six months may look very different than a scar at 12 or 18 months."

Treatments for a scar should not begin until a few weeks after the injury, when the scar has had time to completely heal, he said.

While no item has been medically proven to diminish the appearance of scars, Moon said applying products including Mederma, vitamin E, silcon gel sheets, cocoa butter and Vaseline to the scar will help to keep it moist and pliable. For people with dark brown or black scars, a prescription bleaching cream used daily helps to fade the dark discoloration of the scar. Also, he said massaging a scar will help to reduce the thickness.

According to buzzle.com, there are several natural remedies that can aid with fading the appearance of scars. Foods such as lemon juice, cucumber juice, honey, tomatoes, garlic and bananas have all been linked to reducing the visibility of scars. Other products that have been linked to fading scars include aloe vera, Neem, mint leaves, vitamin E, green tea, olive oil, tea tree oil and ice. The site also recommends massaging the scar to improve blood flow to the wounded area, as well as concocting a sandalwood paste with rose-water to apply to the scar overnight. These, along with maintaining a proper diet high in green vegetables, fruit and plenty of water, may help to reduce to look of scars.

"The benefit is probably with massaging the scar a few times per day for a couple of minutes," Moon said. "Allowing the body to remodel the scar over the course of the year is needed. ... In general, scars are remodeled actively during the first year after injury occurs. Therefore, scars may change/improve in appearance, but much less so than in the first year."

Makeup to cover scars

Reducing the visibility of scars can be a long, repetitive task that is not always guaranteed to work.

For those lingering scars that will not disappear, many rely on facial and body makeup.

According to livestrong.com, the right makeup products along with proper techniques can make any scar temporarily invisible. Start with a professional makeup line concealer with more pigment for better coverage, rather than drugstore-brand concealers.

"The Manual of Dermatologic Therapeutics: With Essentials of Diagnosis," suggests the brands Covermark and Dermablend for concealers to best camouflage a scar.

Also, a concealer should have the proper corrective hues according to the coloring of the scar. "Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age," by David E. Bank and Estelle Sobel, said mauve or yellow-toned makeup, for example, best disguises blue-toned scars while green undertones are used to cover red-toned scars.

On top of a concealer use a small amount of foundation that matches the appropriate skin tone to lightly cover the entire face.

Lastly, use a powder to set the makeup so it will not smear.

The same techniques are used when applying to the body, except using body makeup rather than facial.

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