Everyone's been there. Maybe it's from falling down, taking a nasty spill, a sports injury, surgery or doing just about anything else, external injuries to the body happens. It's just one of those things. Sometimes these injuries heal up without a problem. Other times the skin will scar, becoming a permanent reminder of the former injury. However, for those individuals who want to know how to prevent scarring, there are several tips they need to follow. By taking each of these tips into account it becomes that much easier to prevent, or at least significantly reduce, the appearance of a scar.

Scarring happens in many shapes and forms. Sometimes these are small scars sustained from acne during puberty. Other times these are long cuts along the body. Depending on the severity of the injury and the deepness of the cut there may be no way to completely prevent scarring from occurring. Other times it is possible to prevent extensive damage and to allow the skin to heal up and return to its natural form. Although some people consider scars cool, most people would prefer not to display these constant reminders of past injuries.

What Is a Scar?

Scar on a left hand

Image via Pixabay

After an injury to the dermis, which is the thicker layer of skin under the top layer, the body will naturally produce collagen fibers, which is a protein found within the body. Your body uses this collagen to kick-start the healing and mending the open wound. This takes place after the injury clots off and crusts into a scab. The tissue forms over the injury, so if there is a large indentation or separation between the current healthy skin, the scar may grow into a different texture and look different from the rest of the skin.

The way a scar develops on the body differs not only from injury to injury but also from person to person. Typically, a scar will look paler (it may not have as much pigment in the new tissue as the current skin) than the surrounding skin. Some individuals produce more collagen than others, which leads to a raised scar. Younger people are more likely to develop raised scars than flat or sloping scars because their bodies naturally produce more collagen, and those with a naturally darker skin tone, as their bodies also naturally produce more collagen than those with lighter skin tones.

Stretch marks are scars that often get overlooked, and while they aren't an injury, it's good to know how to prevent scarring that form because of rapid weight gain. Most notably these scars occur during pregnancy, but they can also happen during a growth spurt or rapid muscle gain. That is why stretch marks may appear just about anywhere, such as around the shoulders and chest, around the back or around the stomach. Stretch marks form differently. However, it is still possible to treat stretch marks after the formation of the marks to help reduce the appearance.

Also, keep in mind that when a scar slopes in or looks like a pit in the skin, this is often the result of a removal of a mass under the skin - usually from a medical surgery or physical trauma -, and there aren't easy ways to prevent scars in these situations.

Why Should You Know How to Prevent Scarring?

There is no specific reason someone would want to know how to prevent scarring as the reasons are many. A scar does not prevent someone from doing something, and it is not unhealthy to have scars. A scar is just an area of the body where healing and the formation of new collagen cells occurred.

However, the best time to prevent scarring from becoming permanent is right when it happens, when the collagen cells are young. It's easier to prevent scarring after a wound than to remove the scar after it forms. So, while someone might not care one way or the other after the injury, they may care later on down the road. That is the main reason someone should try to prevent scarring. Once it forms, it becomes that much more difficult (and potentially expensive) to treat.

How to Prevent Scarring

It's important to know how to prevent scarring, and there are several ways to treat flesh wounds to stop them from forming.

First, it is important to keep your injury out of the sun. The sun is one of the fastest ways to ensure the scar becomes permanent. As the amount of pigment in the new collagen differs from the rest of the body, it will not react to the sun in the same way. Beyond this, it is important to apply moisturizing lotion to the area. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also critical. The newly formed skin in the area needs to stay hydrated with both topical moisturizers and drinking plenty of water. Likewise, a person should avoid heavy intakes of sodium or beverages high in salt, such as soft drinks and juices.

If the skin is scarred or if a new scar is developing, there are a few different topical treatment options to consider. Cocoa butter cream is one of the best as it is a vitamin E cream. Most skin care products marketed as ways to reduce the appearance of scaring have both cocoa butter and vitamin E included as main ingredients.

If the scar is significant and deep (such as after a major surgery), you might need a medical procedure. Plastic surgeons often specialize in surgeries designed to remove the appearance of the scar so that even if you can't completely remove the scar, it will not be as noticeable. A doctor will probably not recommend it though for raised scars, as these types of scars are more likely to keep developing, even after surgery, so trying to remove a raised scar may end up causing further scaring down the line.

Laser removal, which works in the same way as a tattoo removal, might work, as this is where a professional uses a laser to burn away the skin. The skin will then naturally heal itself. However, several visits for this treatment are required for complete removal, and the laser intensity grows with each visit.

Steroid injections are another option. For individuals who suffer from raised scars and want to know how to prevent scarring, this is one of the better options. Radiotherapy is another form of treatment designed to help with raised scars, though it's usually reserved for serious cases where the scaring is extensive, as there are side effects that might pop up due to the exposure of radiation.

A handful of other skincare treatments are available for those who want to know how to prevent scarring.

Dermabrasion, a skincare treatment offered at spas, is one option. The process removes the top layer of skin off, exposing the new layer of skin. This can help not only with preventing the development of acne and reduce the appearance of fine lines, but it may help with the appearance of a scar. Over time, with multiple treatments, it becomes more likely for the scar to reduce in appearance (or disappear altogether).

Microdermabrasion is a type of dermabrasion although it is not as invasive and can be done every few weeks since it does not remove as much of the skin. This makes it less effective than dermabrasion for reducing the appearance of scarring although it may be one process to test out before moving on to the more extreme dermabrasion.

Another option is filler injections, in which collagen is injected into the skin under the scar to help smooth out the appearance. A filler injection is a common injectable used to fill in wrinkles although it can also be used to fill in these scars. When there aren't many other options for reducing the appearance or to prevent the development of scarring, this might be one of the best options to consider.

Last, there is microneedling, which is when tiny holes are punctured into the skin to stimulate the production of collagen, the body's natural wrinkle-fighting agent. The process of microneedling can help with the development of new skin around the scar which can raise the scar back to the natural level of your skin. This works with finer scars and may not be the best option if you have a thicker, wider scar, or one that is raised, although it is one beneficial option to consider if a scar does not fall under those categories.

Conclusion

Scars can form from the result of many causes, including acne, an accident or injury, or from stretch marks, and it's important to know how to prevent scarring if you want to keep them as small as possible.

For those worried about their appearance, there are several steps to prevent the development of a scar after a scab from an injury forms. These different ways range from topical applications of specific treatments all the way to the aid of injectables or even surgery.