by: Michael Kabel
In Part One we examined the types of scars and why scarring is a universal necessity in the human body. Listed below are some reasons why scars take their shape, and how parents can help treat injuries to reduce the likelihood of scar tissue formation.
How scar size and visibility is determined
According to The National Institutes of Health, a scar's size and shape depends on the size and depth of the wound it covers, the person's age, the type of wound involved, and also some genetic predisposition to scarring.
Children are more likely to develop scars, as their immature skin layers are more likely to overreact to injury. Darker skinned people are sometimes more likely to develop scarring as well.
3 treatments to avoid
There's an old belief that "letting the air get to it" will help speed healing time, as the air around the wound will keep it cool and moist. However, modern medical research has shown that's not the case. Ultraviolet radiation can actually cause scar tissue discoloration. While moisture in the air does keep a wound irrigated, it also fosters the growth of bacteria.
While for years popular belief held that Vitamin E would help promote new skin growth, its usefulness has been revised by the latest research. Studies show Vitamin E ointments cause allergic reactions in a third of all users.
Hydrogen peroxide, used as a sterilizing agent for decades, also kills healthy skin cells within the wound. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends against complete sterilization of the wounded area, as it retards the skin's ability to develop a healthy resistance to bacteria.
3 treatments that work
Doctors recommend keeping the injury covered with a bandage while it heals, using an anti-biotic ointment to keep it moist. This will prevent the wound from becoming dry and provoking collagen cell formation.
Wounds should also be kept under moderate pressure, so that collagen fibers don't rise above the skin to form a hypertrophic scar formation.
For parents, the best treatment of any child injury is prevention. Making sure kids have the right padding and equipment when exercising or participating in injury-capable activities will stop wounds before they happen.
Surgical Therapies for Scars
Some of the more widespread surgical treatments for scars include:
- revision surgery, which involves cutting the scar away and sealing up the skin beneath.
- cryotherapy involves freezing the scar tissue and then removing it. A dermatologist surrounds the scar with liquid nitrogen and cuts away the frigid scar tissue.
- dermabrasion is a surgical way to literally "sand down" scar tissue.
Laser surgery is a popular but still expensive means of using carbon dioxide lasers to treat the blood cells beneath scars, making them less noticeable. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a special laser designed to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Finally, children with scars or forming scars are encouraged to seek the counsel of a doctor or therapist who can help them acclimate to the scar's presence.