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When a skin wound occurs, a protein called collagen forms around the wound to repair it. This healing process happens if the skin sustains a cut, a burn, or damage from a condition, such as acne or chickenpox.

Often, the new collagen and repaired skin are noticeable in the form of a scar. The formation of scar tissue is part of the natural and essential process of healing.

Some scars fade over time, but others remain. Many people look for ways to make scars less visible.

Some remedies for home use can help prevent scar formation and improve the appearance of existing scars. On the other hand, some natural remedies — such as honey — can help the skin heal but are unlikely to prevent scarring or remove old scars.

A few of these home remedies may be worth trying, but the best way to reduce scars is to care for wounds as they heal, limiting their formation from the beginning.

This article looks at some types of scars in more detail. It also covers a range of home remedies that people may wish to try to reduce the appearance of scars.

Ethnic women applying lotion on hand as a home remedy to get rid of old scarShare on Pinterest
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The type of scar that a person gets depends on many factors, such as:

  • The type of injury they sustained: For example, the scar may be due to acne, surgery, or a burn.
  • Their natural skin type: Some scar types can run in families, and the thickness, color, and texture of a person’s skin may affect how they scar.
  • The location of their injury: The skin may be thicker or tougher on some regions of the body, which can influence the appearance of a scar.

Knowing the type of scar one has is helpful when deciding how to treat it. The sections below look at some scar types in more detail.

Keloid scars

Keloid scars usually grow larger than the wound itself. They are raised and dark, and they can continue to grow after the wound has healed. They develop when too much collagen develops at the site of the wound.

Keloids can have side effects such as interfering with movement, pain, and itching. They may be more common in people with dark skin tones, and they do not resolve or fade with time.

Learn more about keloid scars here.

Hypertrophic scars

Like keloids, hypertrophic scars develop when too much collagen develops after a wound. Usually, they are raised, appear as a different color than the skin, and only affect the injury site. They can be itchy or painful, but these complaints tend to improve as the skin completely heals.

Hypertrophic scars often become less raised and noticeable with time, though this process can take years.

What are hypertrophic scars, and what is the long-term outlook? Find out here.

Atrophic scars

Atrophic scars appear as pit or dents in the skin. They result from damage to the skin’s collagen and commonly occur with conditions such as chickenpox and acne.

Learn how to get rid of “boxcar” scars from chickenpox and acne here.

Contracture scars

These scars cause the skin to become tight. They are often the result of burns, and they can be painful.

Contracture scars can affect muscles and nerves beneath the skin. They can also affect the movement of the affected body part.

Fine-line scars

These are raised lines that remain after a minor cut or wound or after surgery. The line usually flattens and fades over time. However, this may take up to 2 years, and even then, there may still be a small mark.

The scar may be itchy for several months.

Widespread scars

Also known as stretched scars, widespread scars are common after surgery. They occur when a surgical incision scar stretches and becomes wider.

These scars are usually flat and pale, so they tend to be less noticeable than raised or indented scars.

The manufacturers of many lotions, creams, and other products claim that they can reduce a scar’s appearance, but they lack evidence to back up their claims.

For those who wish to try treating scars at home, the sections below discuss some options.

Silicone sheets and gel

Silicone can help reduce the appearance of new scars, though it may not improve the appearance of old scars.

Doctors have used silicone sheeting for over 35 years, and silicone gel is also now in use. Evidence seems to suggest that these options are effective at reducing scars and improving their appearance. For example:

  • A review from 2012 states that silicone sheeting improves the appearance of hypertrophic scars.
  • In 2018, scientists in China found that silicone gel helped reduce scarring in infants who had undergone cleft lip surgery.
  • One 2020 review concludes that topical silicone gel can help prevent hypertrophic and keloid scars, though the effect may not be visible until 6 months after surgery.

Doctors may prescribe silicone scar treatment products for use after surgery or an injury, but these products are also available for home use without a prescription.

Silicone has a low risk of side effects, and it is typically easy and painless to use.

Onion extract

One of the most well-known natural remedies for scar treatment is onion extract. Products containing this extract are widely available without a prescription.

According to research from 2012, a gel containing onion extract improved and softened scars after 4 weeks.

Also, in a 2020 study, 120 people who underwent a second cesarian delivery applied either a gel containing onion extract or no treatment to the scar area for 6 months. Those who used the gel had less raised scarring, less color change, and better blood supply to the wound area.

Typically, the sooner a person treats their scars, the better the outcome. Waiting years after a scar has formed to treat it may need other modes of treatment rather than just home remedies. For example, a person may need cortisone injections or microneedling. For this reason, it is best to treat a scar as soon as it starts to develop.

Chemical exfoliators

Creams, masks, and serums that contain exfoliants can help remove the outer layers of dead skin, leaving a smoother appearance. They may help people with acne scars.

Active ingredients that may help improve the appearance of scars include:

A dermatologist can advise on products and deliver treatment. Products available over the counter will not be as strong as those that a dermatologist may use.

Anyone who is using these products should use a sunscreen of SPF 50+.

Is salicylic acid useful for treating acne? Find out here.

Sun protection

Sun protection will not remove scars, but it can prevent them from burning or becoming more visible. Scar tissue is sensitive to sunlight and can burn easily.

Anyone with a scar should try:

  • applying a strong sunscreen to the scar for at least 18 months after the injury or surgery
  • applying the sunscreen 1 hour before going outside
  • wearing a hat with a wide brim to protect any facial scars

What is the best sunscreen to use? Find out here.

Makeup

Medical makeup can be useful for covering up or reducing the appearance of scars. Although it cannot remove the scar, it can reduce the psychological impact and help boost a person’s confidence and self-image.

A dermatologist can advise on medical makeup that will:

  • reduce the visibility of mild-to-severe scars
  • not aggravate the lesion
  • suit the person’s skin tone and sensitivity
  • be compatible with other prescription products
  • be suitable for the specific area of skin, such as the legs, lips, or face
  • be easy to use

They may also advise on workshops to learn how to apply these products appropriately.

Pressure therapy

Elastic bandages, pressure stockings, and other garments may help reduce scars by putting pressure on the wound.

However, these can be uncomfortable, and the person may need to wear them constantly for 6–12 months to see any difference.

Other remedies

Many other home remedies have backing as scar removers, but more scientific research is needed to prove their effectiveness. These home remedies include:

  • Aloe vera: Some studies suggest that aloe vera can help keep the skin moist and promote wound healing, but there is no evidence to suggest that it can treat scarring.
  • Honey: Scientists have found some evidence to suggest that honey can promote wound healing. However, they have no evidence to indicate that it reduces scarring.
  • Plant oils: One study suggests that a specific blend of safflower, olive, and other plant oils may improve the appearance of non-keloid scars, but more research is needed.
  • Vitamin E: Many people use vitamin E, but existing research has not shown that using vitamin E products without other forms of treatment can help manage scars.
  • Vitamin C: This is an antioxidant that plays a role in collagen production, but scientists do not know how or if it can help heal scars.

These substances may help soften and smooth the skin, and they are likely safe to use. However, scientists have not yet confirmed that they work to reduce or remove scars.

Removing an old scar can be difficult, but there are ways of preventing or reducing scarring while a wound is healing.

For example, after sustaining an injury to the skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends:

  • Keeping the area clean: Mild soap and water work for most minor cuts and scrapes. Aim to clean the wound once per day.
  • Not letting it dry out: Studies suggest that a moist environment can help reduce scar tissue formation.
  • Getting stitches removed as advised: Waiting too long to remove stitches or taking them out early could interfere with healing. People should always follow the advice of a healthcare professional.
  • Applying petroleum jelly: This keeps the skin moist and prevents the formation of a hard scab, which can make a scar more likely to appear.

Scars can affect a person’s physical and mental well-being, especially if they affect the face or other visible areas of the body. A dermatologist can advise on ways to reduce the appearance of scars, and some of these methods may be suitable for home use.

If noninvasive remedies do not help, the dermatologist may recommend laser treatment, surgery, steroid injections, or other options. A person should always seek advice and treatment from a qualified professional to ensure that therapy is safe and effective.

Some of the home remedies for scars listed in this article are available for purchase online: