Whether we are cooking, jogging, or working on arts and crafts, minor injuries could happen. But the risk is even higher with kids, who usually don’t walk when they could run, due to their curious and playful nature. When your children experience wounds, how can you prevent them from scarring?
How scars occur
Explaining the practical tips to prevent scarring requires that we understand how scars form.
Essentially, scarring is a natural part of the wound healing process, which consists of 4 stages:
- Hemostasis: This is the first stage where the body sends platelets to stop bleeding. Platelets seal the wound and form a scab, which protects the healing skin underneath.
- Inflammation: In this phase, the body sends white blood cells to ward off bacteria. A wound in the inflammation stage might appear reddish and swollen and feel warm and painful. Please note that this will naturally resolve unless an infection takes over.
- Proliferation: This stage is where new cells form in place of the wounded area. A wound in the proliferation phase has a shrunken scab with new skin around it.
- Maturation: This completes the healing process, which may or may not involve scars.
Scars’ appearance depends on several factors, like the nature of the wound itself (is it mild, deep, etc.), the kind of skin your child has inherited, and how well you cared for the wound.
In other words, once your child has a wound—be it from small scrapes, cuts, burn, or major surgery—there’s always a possibility that they will have a scar. The good news is there are ways to prevent wounds from scarring or minimize their appearance.
Steps to prevent wounds from scarring
Of course, the best way to avoid scars is to prevent injuries from happening. But, with kids, that’s pretty much impossible. The best you can do is having them wear a protective helmet and kneepads during certain activities like biking and sports.
If they suffer from an injury, keep the following wound care tips in mind:
Gently clean the wound
- Wash your hands thoroughly before attending to their wound.
- If the wound is bleeding, get a clean cloth or bandage and press it down over the area for a couple of minutes.
- Wash the wound with mild soap under running water. Do not scrub; if there are visible dirt or particles, let the running water wash them away.
- Dry the wound completely.
Keep the wound covered
According to experts, it’s okay to keep some mild wounds uncovered. However, if the injury is in an area prone to get dirty or irritated, placing gauze or bandage over the wound is the better option.
For kids who cannot stay still or remain conscious of their wound, it’s best to keep the wound covered for a while. Change the bandage daily or when it gets wet or contaminated.
Covering the scrape, cut, or burn reduces the risk of infection. This is crucial because infection prolongs the inflammation phase of wound healing and increases the risk of scarring.
Apply petroleum jelly
If you have petroleum jelly at home, you can also apply it over the wound before covering it with a bandage or gauze.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, petroleum jelly prevents the wound from forming a scab. They explain that wounds that form scabs take a longer time to heal.
Avoid scratching the injury or picking at the scab
Here’s another practical but challenging tip to prevent wounds from scarring: instruct your child to avoid scratching their wound. Moreover, try to stop them from picking at scabs.
Scratching and picking at scabs cause more inflammation, making scars more likely to happen.
To help your child, cut their fingernails short. You can also use anti-itch ointment suitable for wounds.
Take care of the fully-healed wound
Once the wound heals completely and you notice visible scarring, continue taking care of the affected skin. Minimize the appearance of scars by massaging it gently from time to time and applying sunscreen over it for up to 6 months after the injury.
Likewise, you can also consult a dermatologist for products that can “erase” scars. These products typically flatten, soften, and improve the discoloration of scars.
Learn more about Child Skincare here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.