When you scrape your knee or get a paper cut, getting the bleeding and sharp pain to stop isn’t the end of it. Long after you’ve forgotten about the mishap, you’ll still be left with a memory of it by way of a visible scar. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help lighten or fade scars altogether – as long as you act quickly.
Scars form when your skin heals itself after becoming damaged. This damage can occur from a variety of sources, including burns, surgeries, injuries, and animal bites. 1
For the first two years, your scar will continue to fade. After that, the scar will usually not change. 2 This is why the best time to help a scar fade faster is as soon as you begin to heal from an injury. There are ways to make older scars look less noticeable, but it is easiest to change the appearance of a potential scar while the skin is still healing. If you don’t treat a scar right away, you may need to explore surgical methods to reduce or fade the scar at a later time.
Scars can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. If you have scars on highly visible parts of your body such as your face or hands, you’re probably wondering how you can make them less noticeable. Here are seven natural ways to reduce the appearance of scars.
You probably know that your body needs vitamin C to stay healthy. In dermatology, vitamin C is used topically, as it’s the most common antioxidant in the skin. (Antioxidants play an important role in protecting your cells from damage.) 3 In the case of vitamin C, it can protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) damage and also help your skin heal. A 2013 Korean study found that using a topical silicone gel containing vitamin C was effective in reducing the appearance of scars. 4 Study participants included 80 surgical patients. Their scars were evaluated after six months of applying the gel, and found to be less elevated and lighter than scars of the control group.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that onion extract gel improved the appearance of new scars after four weeks. 5 Onion extract gel was applied topically to the new scars of 44 male and female participants. Researchers found that the scars were softer after just two weeks of application. A few study participants experienced slight stinging, which went away after additional applications. Onion extract gel has been found to be a safe and effective scar treatment, and is even included in some popular over-the-counter scar lotions.
Exposing a scar to UV radiation from the sun can either darken or lighten it. This can make your scar look more noticeable against the background of your skin. 6 Dermatologists recommend putting sunscreen on your scar – and the skin around it – daily. Use an SPF of at least 30 for the best protection, and remember to reapply throughout the day.
Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, and it’s a common ingredient in skincare products, thanks to its excellent moisturizing abilities. Research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in shea butter are effective at treating keloid scars. 7 Shea butter is also known to help fight inflammation in your body and reduce swelling. On top of that, the ingredient is rich in vitamins A and E, two nutrients known to help with wound healing and skin cell renewal.
An emu is a flightless bird native to Australia, and the processed fat of this bird creates the oil. Emu oil contains high levels of vitamin A, as well as omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Emu oil has been found to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, which may be why it is beneficial in reducing the appearance of scars. 8 A study from the Albany Medical College found that an emu-oil based treatment effectively reduced scarring for recent breast surgery patients. 9
It’s sticky, it’s sweet and it’s naturally made by bees. Honey has long been used as a natural remedy for many types of ailments, including treating wounds and burns. A review published in The Cochrane Library found that topically applied honey can heal wounds up to four times faster than they would heal on their own. 10 One reason honey may work to help wounds and scars is that it has potent antioxidant and antibacterial properties. 11
Applying nearly constant pressure as wounds mature can lessen the appearance of scars. 12 Researchers have found some evidence that pressure can help prevent and treat scarring after burns. 13 This can be done using elastic bandages or other custom-fitted compression garments. Unfortunately, to be the most effective, evidence has shown that you need to wear the compression garment or bandage for 23 hours per day and for at least six months. 14 This type of scar therapy is best for scarring of the hands and feet, as it would not be practical for facial scars.
Some people see their scars as markers of history and a way to remember a significant life story. But most of us would rather get rid of them, particularly if they’re on the face. Try these natural methods to help reduce the appearance of your wound’s aftermath so you can enjoy smooth, even-toned skin once again.
For more home remedies to beautify your skin, keep reading here: