Does early treatment make a real difference?

There is increasing evidence in the literature to suggest that early intervention can have a significant positive impact to the final quality of a scar.  This contradicts previously held beliefs that scar interventions should start only after the scar has reached maturity (approximately12-18 months following injury/damage to the skin).

What are the basic principles of looking after a fresh scar?

Good scar hygiene involves moisturisation, protection from the sun as well as reducing any friction/stretch forces during the scar maturation phase.

Moisturisation.  A number of different products are available over the counter including aloe vera-based moisturisers.  The benefit of skin moisturisation relates to the fact that a moist epidermis (top layer of skin) can send ‘signals’ to the dermis (deeper layer) to ‘down-regulate’ or switch off the activity of scar forming cells (fibroblasts).

Protection from the sun.  It is well known that sun exposure can have a negative impact on scar quality.  Protection from the sun is vital and this can be achieved through the use of high sun protection factor products and appropriate body/headwear.

Scar splinting.  Protection of a fresh scar from any physical forces can be achieved through the application of a paper microporous tape, which works through a number of ways. It provides external support to the fresh scar as well and stops any water loss thereby keeping the scar well hydrated.  Patients are encouraged to apply a strip of paper microporous tape to the scar with minimal overlap to neighbouring skin for a period of 8 to 12 weeks following trauma/surgery.  The lifetime of each strip is between two days and two weeks depending on how oily the skin is; patients can shower over the tape as normal and if necessary apply a moisturiser over the strip.