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6 ways to prevent scars from forming

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Posted at 2:04 PM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-16 14:11:11-04

Summer is great time to have fun and be active. But as is apparent when sliding head first into home plate at your church softball league game – it’s also a time for scratches, scrapes and cuts.

That can lead to scars. But there are proven steps that can reduce the risk of a scar forming, said the American Academy of Dermatology.

“The appearance of a scar often depends on how well your wound heals,” said Mount Sinai dermatologist Ellen S. Marmur, in a statement. “Although no scar can be completely eliminated, most scars do fade over time.”

Most scars begin to fade about three months after injury, according to the British National Health Service. After two years, that’s about as good as the scar is going to look.

Properly treating wounds at home can help reduce the appearance of scars from the onset. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Keep it clean by gently washing the area with soap and water. That will remove debris and keep germs out.

  2. Apply petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. That prevents a scab from forming, which would slow down healing time. Anti-bacterial ointment isn’t necessary, Marmur said, so long as the wound is kept clean.

  3. Cover the skin with a bandage. For larger cuts, consider a hydrogel or silicone gel sheet.

  4. Change the bandage every day and keep that wound clean.

  5. If the wound has stitches, follow your doctor’s care instructions and get the stitches out on time.

  6. After the wound heals, protect the skin with SPF 30 or better sunscreen. That may reduce redness and help the scar to fade faster. Apply it frequently.

Seek medical attention right away if the cut is very deep, very painful or infected. A dermatologist can treat stubborn scars with surgery, steroid injections or lasers.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.