My kids are so proud of their scars, each one is an excuse to tell the story of how brave they were that time they fell off their bike or burned their hand on the hob. As we get older, scars become something we’d rather forget and hide.
There are so many lotions and potions on the market nowadays claiming to make our scars vanish. They often come with a price tag as hefty as their claims. I prefer to stick to the old fashioned and affordable natural remedies of our grandparents’ generation. Read on for the 15 best natural scar treatments.
What is a Scar?
When our skin is damaged e.g. from acne, a burn, surgery, etc, it can heal and regenerate wonderfully. However, the new skin tissue is not exactly the same as the original. You’ll usually notice a scar – it could be raised or indented, lighter than the surrounding skin and without hair follicles.
It can take up to two years for scars to reach their final form. Prior to that, there are 3 different stages of healing, as follows:
1. Inflammatory Phase:
Lasts around 1 week. The wound stops bleeding and oozing, and begins to form collagen.
2. Proliferative Phase:
Your body pulls the edges of the wound together, producing new blood vessel. A self-cleaning process makes the area look wet. It may also be red and bumpy.
3. Maturation Phase:
The new skin tissue is gradually refined, making the area flatter and lighter in colour.
Depending on the location of the scar, it may be a source of embarrassment. Scars can sometimes be painful and itchy too, so it’s no wonder we want them gone as soon as possible. Luckily, there are a few ways to speed up the process. First, let me explain the general principles of skin healing. (source)
General Principles of Skin Healing
There are a few methods we can use to speed up healing of any type of skin wound. Most of them don’t require any special ingredients and you can do them at home.
Once the skin has closed up, massaging the area gently stimulates blood flow. This aids transport of healing cells to the region, allowing them to do their job more efficiently. If you’re a smoker, now’s a good time to stop as this limits circulation and slows healing.
Keeping the wound moisturised from the very beginning is the best way to speed up healing and minimise scarring. Covering the area stops liquid from escaping, as well as using occlusive creams and gels. Be careful though, if it’s too moist, the healthy skin softens and tears as well, so keep an eye on it and change your dressings frequently.
Never expose your scar to sun as it will darken the area and make it even more noticeable. Either cover it or use a high factor sunscreen. (source) If the scar is in an area that gets stretched frequently e.g. knee or elbow, use a steri-strip to pull the skin together.
Apply pressure to the scar when it’s healing to flatten it. (source) Treating the scar as early as possible achieves the best results. Once the scar is outside the maturation stage it is unlikely to change significantly. (source)
The 15 Best Natural Scar Treatments
Honey is an amazing natural moisturiser. It’s sticky texture means it remains on the wound for a long time and some honeys (like Manuka) even have antibacterial properties.
How to use it: Apply a thin layer of honey to the scar and cover with a light dressing. Change at least daily. (source)
2. Aloe Vera
I’m sure you’ve heard of aloe vera as a sunburn treatment. Well, it’s great to prevent and heal scarring too. If possible, use the fresh juice from the aloe vera plant, but if you don’t have one available, you can buy pure aloe vera gel too.
How to use it: Massage the gel onto the scar and let it absorb completely. Repeat three times a day. (source)
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of my favourite natural products. The fatty acid content of virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil makes it a great barrier to protect and lock moisture into your scar.
How to use it: Massage a few drops of coconut oil into the scar daily. (source)
Cucumber is a neutral, cooling plant, which can hydrate your scar without causing allergies and irritation.
How to use it: Peel a cucumber, cut the seeds out and blend it in a food processor to make a paste. Apply to the scar and leave for 20 minutes before washing off with cool water. Repeat twice daily. (source)
5. Sugar Scrub
Exfoliating with natural scrubs is great for scar healing for two reasons. First of all, vigorous massage will stimulate blood flow. Secondly, sugar will remove the dead skin, flattening the scar and allowing new skin to form.
How to use it: Combine ½ a cup of brown sugar with 2 tablespoons of glycerin, ⅓ cup of coconut oil and two tablespoons of almond oil. Massage onto the affected area for minutes and rinse thoroughly with warm water. Store the scrub in a jar in a cool, dry place for no longer than 3 weeks (sources 1, 2)
6. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice acts as a natural bleach to help fade dark scars. It has a drying effect so make sure to apply moisturiser directly afterwards.
How to use it: Squeeze the juice from a fresh lemon and apply it directly to the scar with your fingers. Leave for 10 minutes and then wash off. Repeat daily. For sensitive skin, dilute the juice before applying. (source)
Tomato acts in the same way as lemon juice to fade scars.
How to use it: Cut a ripe tomato into small pieces. Crush in a bowl using a fork to make a paste. Apply this to the scar and leave for 15 minutes. Wash with warm water. Repeat daily. (source)
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Again, apple cider vinegar will fade dark scars. It is associated with many other healing benefits that have not been scientifically confirmed at present.
How to use it: Dilute the apple cider vinegar with an equal volume of water. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to the scar for minutes. Wash with water, dry and apply moisturizer. Repeat daily. (source)
9. Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter penetrates deep into the skin, keeping it hydrated and soft. You can use it in conjunction with some of the other treatments above for added results.
How to use it: Before going to bed, wash the scar and apply a generous amount of cocoa butter. Leave it on overnight. (source)
10. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is a common remedy in India usually found in powder or paste form. Preclinical studies indicate that it improves wound healing.
How to use it: If you have amla powder, mix with olive oil to make a paste and apply to the scar daily. (source)
11. Olive Oil
Similarly to coconut oil above, olive oil locks moisture into the skin and creates a protective layer.
How to use it: Massage a few drops of olive oil into the scar until it is fully absorbed. Repeat daily. (source)
12. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is similar in composition to our skin’s natural sebum. This makes it great for moisturising scars.
How to use it: Massage a few drops of jojoba oil into your scar until it is fully absorbed. Repeat daily. (source)
Avocado is full of nourishment for your body and your skin too. It’s healthy fats create a protective barrier to allow moisture to penetrate through your scar.
How to use it: Mash a ripe avocado and apply a thin layer to the scar to create a hydrating mask. Leave it for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. (source)
14. Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil has always been very popular for healing and improving skin quality in general. New evidence suggests that it’s no more effective than any other oil but I thought I’d include it on this list anyway so you can see for yourself.
How to use it: Break open a vitamin E capsule and apply a few drops to your scar. Massage the area until absorbed. (source)
15. Drink Lots of Water
Most of the techniques up till this point have emphasised moisturising your scar from the outside. However, moisturising from the inside is helpful too. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your skin soft and elastic. Try to avoid caffeine and aim for around 2-4 liters of water a day for best results. (source)
I hope some of these methods will help with your scars. There are certainly plenty to choose from so why not try a different one every day! Be patient though, it will be around 6 weeks before you start to notice any improvement, skin regeneration is a slow process.