Let’s face it, we all have them. Maybe from a high school sports injury or a cesarean from giving birth? Or perhaps from acne squeezed so hard it left a permanent mark.
While some view these as life’s ‘landmarks’ (even trophies!), scars are not fun to live with. And they can lead to serious self-consciousness.
And who needs that? We have enough to worry about in life without heaping on a load of insecurity about scars.
Good news… you don’t have to just grin and bear them anymore.
While skin injuries are unavoidable, carefully attending to the healing process can help reduce the development of scar tissue. However, even with topical treatment and professional medical care, skin wounds can turn into lifelong scars.
However, unsightly scars can be reduced and even eliminated with proper post-wound care. The first step in scar removal is to identify the type of scar.
Types of Scars
This type of scar is caused by skin tightening so severe that it impairs mobility. In this case, sufferers may also notice nerve and muscle tissue pain, as contracture scars tend to go very deep into the dermis layers of the skin and even subcutaneous tissue. Most commonly these are burn scars.
Acne, chickenpox, staph and surgery are the main causes of atrophic scar tissue. These types of recesses in the skin can result in the loss of underlying supportive skin layers. Atrophic scars are very common.
This type of scar is usually raised up from the skin. It is most commonly caused by an overproduction of collagen. All types of skin injuries can cause hypertrophic scars, including lacerations, cuts, and scrapes.
Usually the result of a large wound or severe skin trauma, keloids are often painful. The most common causes of these types of scars include body piercings, surgery, and vaccination sites. This type of scarring can be serious because keloids tend to grow, leaving behind a very visible scar. This type of scar tissue often worsens with sun exposure.
Natural Scar Remedies
Once the type of scar has been identified, natural treatment options can be applied to reduce the appearance of scar tissue.
Here are five of the most effective natural treatments for scars:
1. Aloe Vera
This plant’s soothing abilities can work wonders for scarred skin. Aloe vera meat and juice may not only help to reduce the appearance of scar tissue, it may also speed the healing process as it promotes skin cell regeneration. Additional potential benefits of aloe vera to the skin include reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and healing of cutaneous wounds. Fresh aloe vera leaves are preferred to any bottled aloe gel.1
2. Vitamin E
Also known as tocopherol, this fat-soluble vitamin can be purchased in capsules and as a liquid extract. Vitamin E is a powerful substance. It is able to improve the structural quality of skin, and it is believed to help prevent cellular damage caused by free-radical molecules. As it softens hardened scar tissue, Vitamin E also influences collagen production to reduce scar visibility and promote skin cell regeneration.2
3. Shea Butter
For scars caused by skin injuries, including lacerations, cuts, and burns, it is important to keep the area hydrated during the healing process. Shea butter is ideal for keeping wounds moist and reducing the appearance of scarring. An effective moisturizer, shea butter has also been shown to inhibit keloid scar tissue and repair skin.3
4. Essential Oils
There are many different plant essences that may help speed the healing process of scar tissue. Some of the most notable include tea tree oil, lavender, and helichrysum. Able to provide antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties to the skin, essential oils cleanse the skin and may help to regenerate damaged skin tissue.
Note: Use caution when applying essential oils, as they are very powerful substances that can irritate the skin if not used properly.4 The safest way to use them is to mix them in with a carrier oil, such as argan or jojoba oil.
This vegetable contains a variety of unique chemical compounds, including quercetin, kaempferol, and cephalin. In recent studies, it is believed that onion extract gel may soften scar tissue. In order to obtain a potent extract, essential oils of onion can be found in some specialty food stores.5
6. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar is one of those miracle multitaskers – you can literally clean your bathroom, your digestive system, and your skin with it. Many people swear by its scar-reducing capabilities and some studies have shown similar results. In fact, trichloroacetic acid (a modified form of ACV’s acetic acid), is a key ingredient in many chemical peels and scar treatments, where it’s shown some great success.6
Always dilute apple cider vinegar with 1 – 4 parts water and dab onto your scar with a cotton ball.
7. Rosehip Oil
Rosehips are the fruit of, you guessed it, the rose bush. They’ve long been used for medicinal purposes because of their high vitamin C content. They’re also packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that’s also found in tomatoes.
Rosehip oil has been used for decades on scars, with the benefits thought to be due to the high content of essential fatty acids that hydrate the skin and which play a key role in the body’s injury repair mechanisms. But studies now back this theory. One particular study focused on 108 patients with post-surgical skin scars. They found that rosehip oil reduced redness of the skin, as well as the discoloration and skin atrophy caused by scarring. Stating that their findings were “statistically significant”.7
8. Compression Sleeves
Pressure garments, including compression sleeves, are used primarily for scar tissue caused by burns. However, these types of garments may be helpful for reducing stress on other types of scar tissue. A compression sleeve may improve circulation to the affected area, supplying essential nutrients directly to the scar tissue. Caution must be used to reduce the risk of causing further damage to sensitive skin. Wait to apply compression sleeves until the skin has fully healed.8,9
It’s All About Healing
Visible scars are not only unappealing, but they can also be painful and even damaging to your self-image. In order to manage skin damage that leads to scarring, take good care of the wound during the healing process and use natural forms of scar treatment after the wound has healed.
Most scars will fade after a short time, but for those that don’t, there are ways, be it natural or cosmetic, to see a significant reduction in scar tissue. And whatever you do, make sure to always treat skin traumas and wounds promptly to reduce the chance of scarring.
Article updated: March 21, 2018
1 Hashemi S, Madani S, Abediankenari S. The Review on Properties of Aloe Vera in Healing of Cutaneous Wounds. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:1-6. doi:10.1155/2015/714216.
2 Ganceviciene R, Liakou A, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis C. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology. 2012;4(3):308-319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804.
3 Olaitan P, Chen I, Norris J, Fein R, Oluwatosin O, Reichenberger E. Inhibitory Activities of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Traditional African Remedies on Keloid Fibroblasts. PubMed Central (PMC). 2011. Accessed November 2, 2016.
4 Cao H, Yang G, Wang Y et al. Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd009436.pub2.
5 Draelos Z, Baumann L, Fleicher Jr. A, Plaum S, Avakian E, Hardas B. A New Proprietary Onion Extract Gel Improves the Appearance of New Scars: A Randomized, Controlled, Blinded-Investigator Study. PubMed Central (PMC). 2012. Accessed November 2, 2016.
6 Kapuścińska A, Nowak I, Use of organic acids in acne and skin discolorations therapy. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015 Mar 22;69:374-83.
7 Valerón-Almazán P, Gómez-Duaso A, et al. Evolution of Post-Surgical Scars Treated
with Pure Rosehip Seed Oil. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2015, 5, 161-167
8 Goel AShrivastava P. Post-burn scars and scar contractures. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2010;43(3):63. doi:10.4103/0970-0358.70724.
9 Atiyeh B, El Khatib A, Dibo S. Pressure garment therapy (PGT) of burn scars: evidence-based efficacy. PubMed Central (PMC). 2013. Accessed November 2, 2016.