Hanging that new artsy print while standing on the coffee table seemed like a good idea at the time. But a tumble, shatter and couple of tears later, you’re pressing a cold rag against what you just know is going to be the worst scar ever. But it doesn’t have to be. What you do next can help prevent, or at least minimize, a raised, dark-red, visible reminder that you lost a battle against a bare wall.
After the fall
The first few minutes after splitting open your skin are crucial. Immediately get to a first-aid kit and clean the wound, then apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Is the cut spread wide or deep? If so, you might need stitches. Don’t dawdle, because the doc may not lend his sewing skills if it looks like there’s risk of bacterial contamination or infection.
If stitches aren’t needed, you can proceed with smart wound care at home. Keeping it clean and covered at all times is a must, but if you want to stop scarring, factor moistness into the mix. Dabbing on plant-based petroleum jelly before bandaging can help speed healing and discourage scar formation.
Let the healing begin
Skin repair isn’t a speedy process. We’re talking months, even up to a year, before a scar is fully formed. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to coax along the healing and minimize ridging and discoloration:
- Invest in vitamin E. Rich in antioxidants and well-known for its soothing effects on skin, vitamin E is probably the most popular natural remedy for scars. But don’t just slather it on and go about your day; vitamin E works best to lessen the look of scars when its massaged in.
- Stay out of the sun. Skin working to repair itself is sensitive. If your scar is in a spot on your skin that’s regularly exposed to sunlight, apply copious amounts of sunscreen before heading out. Even better, cover up with clothing if possible.
- Try tea tree. Tea tree oil is well known for its germ-fighting qualities, but it may also help prevent and minimize the appearance of scars, especially from acne or incisions. Be sure to dilute the tea tree oil with water or a carrier oil (NEVER apply it directly to skin).
- Say “ahhh,” to aloe vera. You already turn to this natural skin soother after spending a little too much time in the sun, so it should come as no surprise that aloe vera may offer hydrating and healing benefits for cuts, scrapes and skin-scarring booboos.
- Consider coconut oil. Keeping the skin hydrated is crucial to softening existing scars and minimizing the impact of new ones. Slather some deeply-moisurizing coconut oil on your skin to help hydrate, as well as stimulate collagen production and skin renewal.
- Use a specialty scar product. For stubborn scars, try a product specially formulated to improve their appearance. My picks are Bio Oil (made from a combination of vitamins and natural plant oils) and Derma E Scar Gel (with onion extract and panthenol).