Almost everyone is bound to get a scar at some point in their life. These thick, sometimes discolored sections of skin can form after a minor or a major injury, surgery or even acne. Sometimes, however, they become too noticeable, develop in places we’d prefer they were not or are just unsightly and cause distress or embarrassment.
After a wound heals and a scar forms, you might be stuck with the scar for life. Dermatological and store-bought products may help reduce the appearance of scars, but these aren’t always accessible.
If you want to reduce the appearance of your scars, here are a few natural remedies you can use at home to potentially produce similar effects.
What is a scar?
Understanding what a scar is and how it is formed may help you determine the best home remedies to help it go away. Scars are places on the skin where the body has attempted to heal or replace damaged or lost tissue. They are usually caused by major injuries like cuts or burns, but they can also occur because of acne, infections or other skin problems.
Scars are composed of thick, fibrous tissues, called scar tissues, which can make them feel harder and stand out from the rest of your skin. The body releases the protein collagen where skin tissue breaks. Collagen increases blood supply to the wound and helps build the skin tissue back up stronger, often making the skin thicker than usual. Eventually, some of that collagen will break down, but the scar tissue will usually remain thicker or firmer as a result of this healing process.
Because of differences in the healing process, all scars are different. Some may be flat and smooth, while others may be bumpy, sunken, discolored or misshapen.
Natural tips for healing scars
Over time, scars are likely to heal and fade on their own. As the cells heal and new skin is formed year over year, the appearance of your scars might fade until they are almost impossible to detect. Despite fading, though, scars are never truly erased.
While many people have a scar or two of their own, some might be much more noticeable or distressing than others. It’s perfectly fine to allow scars to heal naturally and to wear them with pride, but if your scars cause you distress, there may be some ways you can help speed up the healing process and even minimize the appearance of scars for smoother, more even-looking skin.
- Lemon juice: The natural acids found in lemons may help do multiple things to reduce the appearance of scars. Applying lemon juice to your scars once or twice a day may help remove dead skin cells and promote new growth, reducing scar height or texture. It may also “bleach” the scar, reducing discoloration and making it appear lighter.
- Olive oil or coconut oil: Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for penetrating the skin, moisturizing and healing.
- Aloe vera: The gel inside an aloe vera plant contains soothing and moisturizing properties, as well as antioxidants, which may help reduce redness and promote healing when applied to scars. You can purchase aloe vera gel or scrape out the inside of a leaf from the plant and apply it directly to your skin one to two times a day.
- Honey: Honey has powerful medicinal benefits that can help stimulate new skin growth and healing. It’s a popular addition to facial skincare routines, but it can also make a difference on your scar appearance!
- Onion extract: Onion extract is often found in over-the-counter scar treatments, but you can use it on its own to help reduce the appearance of scars, too. Studies have actually shown that onion extract may help reduce discoloration and height in scars.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree essential oil is a staple in facial skincare routines to combat acne because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Combine tea tree oil with a little coconut oil and rub it into the scar twice a day.
- Baking soda: An at-home exfoliating treatment with baking soda may help break down the top layers of your skin to promote new growth and healing of old scars. Grainy ingredients like baking soda can create exfoliating pastes when mixed with water. Gently rub the paste into the scar, then rinse and dry once a day.
Treating scars as they form helps the most
Although some of the treatment methods above may work to reduce the appearance of your scars, the best way to minimize scar appearance is by treating them as they are forming. After you get a cut, burn or other skin wound, taking good care of it and helping it heal in the cleanest, fastest way possible can assist in reducing the appearance of a scar from the very start.
Keep the wound clean as it heals and moisturize the skin with shea butter or petroleum jelly to prevent drying. Maintaining proper moisture can reduce scar tissue formation. Applying sun protection can also help in this process by preventing scars from darkening over time due to sun exposure.
If your scar is long past its healing stage, however, you may find success in applying one or a combination of natural ingredients to help remove dead skin cells, promote healing and reduce discoloration of your existing scars so they are harder to see.