Natural Remedies for Scars
At a Glance:
- Healing from surgery is a challenging process, both physically and mentally. Once our bodies have had time to bounce back, many of us will face the task of accepting a “new addition” to our post-surgery appearance: a scar from our incision.
- While there are several medical options to treat severe scarring, there are also many natural remedies for scars that can be found in nature (or your pantry!).
- Today we discuss several natural ways to treat scars and how you can apply these remedies at home.
Surgery is a tough physical experience, no matter who you are. Any invasive procedure will have some lingering or long term effects. One of those lasting results is scarring, which leaves patients with a permanent reminder of their operation, even if its something they’d like to move past.
While recovering from surgery is extremely physically demanding, there’s no denying the mental challenges that a patient has to go through to fully heal. Unfortunately, surgical scars stay put long after the sutures are gone, which can take an emotional toll on some patients.
The tendency to scar and the severity of the mark will depend on many different factors, including:
- Location of the incision
- And genetics.
When our body gets to work on repairing an incision wound, it starts to create thicker tissue made from collagen protein. With three defined layers, the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (just under the epidermis where we hold our connective tissue and sweat glands), and the innermost layer, the hypodermis (which holds our fat tissue). Because a surgical wound penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin, the body has to generate a tissue structure that’s thick enough to heal all three layers of affected skin. Once the wound has fully healed, there are several different types of scars that can form. Some of the most common include the following:
- Stretched Scars – These scars typically appear 3 weeks after surgery and look stretched, flat, and pale. They are more common if the incision is in an area with high skin tension such as above a joint like a knee or elbow.
- Atrophic Scars – Atrophic scars appear flat or depressed compared to the surrounding skin. These scars are mostly seen with chickenpox or acne scarring as well as the incision area where a cancerous or suspicious mole or birthmark was removed as part of a dermatological surgery .
- Hypertrophic Scars – These raised scars remain within the boundaries of the initial incision or wound. They sometimes appear red due to sustained inflammation.
- Keloid Scars – Keloid scars are elevated above the unaffected skin and will spread beyond the primary wound or incision site. Keloids typically continue to grow for a year or more after a wound has healed.
Using Natural Remedies for Scars
While scarring of some kind is almost inevitable after invasive surgery, there are things you can do to help reduce the severity. While there are many cosmetic procedures available to combat extreme scarring, not all “battle scars” require that level of care. It’s also important to note, even with medical treatment, some scars will remain relatively permanent in their appearance.
Whether you’re looking to improve the look of a minor scar, or have tried what feels like everything to fix a more pronounced mark, there are a few natural remedies you can apply that have been proven to help in many cases. These simple ingredients are inexpensive, easily accessible, and have been shown to naturally improve the look of scars.
Safety First: A scar and a surgical incision that is still healing are very different! Before trying any of these remedies for scars, consult your doctor on when it is safe to consider your surgical site a fully-healed scar.
Not just a relief for sunburns, this skin-soothing plant has been shown to significantly improve the look of scars. Aloe vera contains several natural compounds that help to combat scars, including mannose phosphate, a plant sugar that’s both anti-inflammatory and has been shown to increase cell regeneration and tissue growth. As an added bonus, this powerful plant also contains a compound called saponin, an antibacterial agent that can help ward off infection.
- To tap into the healing properties of aloe vera for surgical scars, peel the outer dark green skin on an aloe vera leaf.
- Gently scoop out the clear, gel-like substance inside the leaf and apply directly onto the scar, massaging the aloe into the surface of the skin in a circular motion.
- Let the gel sit on the scar for about half an hour, before rinsing it off with cool water. For the best results, repeat this process twice a day.
It may be hard to BEE-lieve (pun intended!) that this syrupy, sweet condiment could help to minimize the appearance of scars, but it’s true. Just like its many uses in the kitchen, honey offers up an array of skin benefits following surgery, such as it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as skin cell regeneration. For the best results, go with manuka honey, a form of the sticky spread that comes out of New Zealand. This specific type of honey contains methylglyoxal, which is believed to be the source of the item’s antiseptic properties.
- To use this tasty topping for scarring, simply apply a thick layer of honey over your scar each night before bed.
- Wrap up your honey-slathered scar with a bandage and let it soak in overnight.
- In the morning, gently peel off the bandage and rinse off the honey with warm water. Repeat this process every evening as you heal.
This trendy superfood has made waves in the nutrition scene thanks to the many reported health benefits. However, this oil’s benefits extend beyond the kitchen, providing some serious scar-fighting benefits. Researchers examining the effects of coconut oil on wound healing and scar development found that the oil improved the outcome of the healing process, which they attributed to an increased rate of collagen production. Another major component of coconut oils anti-scarring properties is the high vitamin E content, which has been found to be particularly useful in preventing the development of keloid scars following surgery.
- To apply coconut oil on scars, warm up a few tablespoons of coconut oil until it becomes liquid. Don’t overheat!
- Gently massage the oil into the scar for several minutes before allowing it to absorb into the skin. Repeat this process two to four times each day.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Like coconut oil, this common pantry item has taken off in popularity in recent years. Advocates for ACV boast its many benefits, ranging from increasing metabolism to lowering cholesterol.
The high pH in apple cider vinegar also makes the highly acidic kitchen staple an effective antiseptic that effectively removes dead skin cells from the surface layer. This makes it one of the best remedies for scars, helping to reduce their appearance and encouraging the damaged skin to regenerate at a more rapid rate. However, because it is a strong acid, it’s important to exercise extra caution when using this item on our skin.
- To use apple cider vinegar on scars, combine 3 to 4 tablespoons of distilled water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
- Then, using a cotton ball, soak up the mixture and begin to gently dab the scar until it is sufficiently moistened.
- Let the mixture dry onto the scar. Repeat this process every night before bed, rinsing the scar with cool water in the morning.
The thought of rubbing this pungent produce item on your skin may not be appealing, but it can effectively improve the look of scars. Several studies have shown the scar-mending properties of onion extract, with strong evidence to support the extract’s use for treating hypertrophic and keloid scars in particular. Scientists suggest the scar-healing properties of onion extract come from a bioflavonoid found in onions called quercetin. This compound has been shown to be antiproliferative (meaning it inhibits cell growth) and anti-inflammatory, which limits the discoloration and raised appearance that some scars can take on.
- To use onion extract on a scar, mix several drops of the oil in your palms before massaging the extract into the scarred area for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Let the extract soak into the scar for about 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Repeat this process up to three times a day.
There you have it! These all-natural remedies can help you to say “sayonara” to surgical scars. The inexpensive ingredients come from the earth and are often already stocked in your kitchen, saving your skin while sparing your wallet. Check out the rest of our blog for more great surgery content!