Sonya Bass, CH
The skin has an incredible ability to regenerat.
The skin has an incredible ability to regenerate. When it is cut or damaged after a burn, abrasion, or surgery, "skin paramedics" leap into action to stop the blood flow, and create a temporary cover to prevent infections. This protective scab stays in place until the new skin has formed.
While scar tissue is part of the healing process, the type and severity of the scar depends on the nature of the injury incurred, and the body's ability to heal itself. After a burn, a deep wound, or surgery, a scar can form internally as well as on the surface of the skin.
New scars have a pink, shiny appearance. The colour fades in time but bands of fibre below the surface become hard. As healing progresses, the scar may feel sensitive as nerve endings are closer to the surface of the skin. Deep scar tissue in joints will create tightness and restrict movement.
Some scars fade with time, while others continue to grow. Following a traumatic injury, it is common for one of two types of scars to appear: keloid or hypertropic.
Keloid scar tissue occurs when a build-up of collagen forms after the initial healing process. This tissue is a thick cluster that grows and forms a lumpy mound larger than the original injury. Keloid scars are most common on the shoulders and breast bone.
Hypertropic scars are thick, raised, and darker than the surrounding skin, but do not grow beyond the injury area. They frequently form around skin grafts or deep second degree burns.
It is important to start the process of scar prevention immediately after the injury has occurred. Vitamin K is the catalyst that congeals the blood from broken blood vessels, and a diet high in vitamin K-rich food such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green tea, eggs, cheese, kelp, and soybeans will help aid blood clotting. It is wise to protect small cuts or wounds from infections with a bandage or breathable dressing.
After the initial wound has healed, apply vitamin E oil several times a day to prevent or reduce scar tissue. Vitamin E lotions contain chemicals that can irritate the sensitive area of the scar, so it is best to use the pure oil. Scar tissue continues to form for periods of up to two years, and it is important to keep it well moisturized.
Supplements can also be taken to accelerate the healing process, including vitamin E mixed with tocopherols 400IU, vitamin A, zinc citrate, and silicea gel.
Massage helps prevent tightness in scar tissue by breaking down the thick bands of collagen. These hardened bands may lead to restricted movement. Regular massage will prevent the scar surface from becoming dry, cracked, and sore, which, if left untreated, can produce further complications, such as infections. Try massaging with natural herbs and lotions such as aloe vera and rosehip (Rosa mosqueta oil). According to research undertaken by Dr. Fabiola Carvajal from the microbiology department of Concepci?niversity, Chile, rosehip oil has potent scar-healing powers.
Keep in mind that premature massage treatment can damage the healing process. Consult a health practitioner to determine when to commence treatment.
Injuries destroy the epidermal layer of the skin. The dermal layer continues to produce more cells, and when no pressure from the epidermal layer is encountered, raised scar tissue develops.
Pressure therapy applied during the healing process involves placing pressure pads or restrictive bandages over the injury, and helps prevent overproduction of skin cells and hypertonic scar tissue from forming. Consult a qualified professional to determine the duration and intensity of pressure.
Applying heat to scar tissue with warm paraffin wax is beneficial to recent and long-term scar tissue. Paraffin wax acts like a liquid hot pad. Solid wax becomes molten on heating, and slowly releases heat when it makes contact with the skin. The wax solidifies as it loses heat. Remove the wax when it is cool but still pliable.
It is well worth spending the time preventing and healing scar tissue as it can not only disfigure and restrict movement, but if left untreated, will stay with you for life.