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Tips to Prevent Wounds from Scarring

    Tips to Prevent Wounds from Scarring

    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, burns, 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.

    prevent wounds from scarring

    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 wounds.
    • 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.

    First Aid for Cuts and Wounds

    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.

    Additionally, keeping wounds moist and covered during the early healing phase appears to hasten wound healing and decreases the risk of scar formation.

    Apply petroleum jelly

    If you have plain petroleum jelly at home, you can also apply it over the wound to retain moisture and form a protective barrier. You can apply a bandage or gauze afterward, if needed.

    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.

    It’s also good to avoid stretching the area of the skin with the wound. Apply protective bandages or tapes (depending on the type of injury). Silicone gels can also help with this.

    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. This is because hyperpigmentation after wound healing is common and may worsen with sun exposure.

    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.

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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Everyday Cuts and Scrapes: How to Prevent Scarring
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/everyday-cuts-and-scrapes-how-to-prevent-scarring
    Accessed January 7, 2021

    PROPER WOUND CARE: HOW TO MINIMIZE A SCAR
    https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/wound-care-minimize-scars
    Accessed January 7, 2021

    Cuts, Scrapes & Scar Management: Parent FAQs
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/Treating-Cuts.aspx
    Accessed January 7, 2021

    Scars
    https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/scars.html
    Accessed January 7, 2021

    Wounds and Scars
    https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/w/wounds-scars
    Accessed January 7, 2021

    Caring for Cuts, Scrapes, and Wounds
    https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0715/p315.html
    Accessed January 7, 2021

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated 4 weeks ago
    Medically reviewed by January Velasco, MD