Research-backed

8 Ways To Treat Scars In Children And Tips For Prevention

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Almost every child is likely to be injured at some time. While some scars are minor and fade away with time, some may need medical treatment. Besides the usual injury scars, there are other scars as well. Different scars would require a different management technique.

In this post, MomJunction tells you about the types of scars in children and the various treatment options.

How Are Scars Formed?

A scar is a mark left on the skin after a wound or injury has healed (1). The formation of a scar is part of the normal healing process of skin that was damaged by surgery, trauma, or burns (2).

Wounds can take time to heal. Here is how a wound is healed and a scar may form (3).

  • The inflammation lasts for two weeks, and during this period, the body tries to heal the wound. At this phase, the wound is red, tender, and swollen.
  • In the proliferation phase, the skin goes through a repair, and it might take about six weeks. In this phase, the scar appears raised, red, and rigid.
  • The final phase is remodeling, wherein the scar becomes flat and soft. It might take 12 to 18 months.

Every scar is different since every injury or damage to the skin is different. It is essential to understand the type of scar before proceeding with treatment.

Different Types Of Scars

Some scars take less time to heal, while a few might take longer (1) (4) (5).

1. Keloid scars

Image: Shutterstock

These grow at the wound site and are formed from the collagen produced by the wound. These appear round, thick, and dark in color. These might be painful or itchy and may even restrict the movements if they are around a joint area. They can appear on any part of the body and could recur.

2. Hypertrophic scars

Image: Shutterstock

These are similar to keloid scars, but their growth is not beyond the boundary of the skin’s wound. These are thick, elevated, and red. These scars continue to thicken for months but can get better over a year or more.

3. Sunken scars

Image: Shutterstock

Certain skin conditions such as chickenpox, acne, or injury can leave pitted or sunken scars.

4. Scar contractures

Image: iStock

These scars are often formed when the skin is damaged due to burns. Contracture scars pull the skin and tighten it. Some contractures may affect underlying tendons, joints, and muscles, thus impairing movement.

A doctor will suggest the appropriate treatment based on the type and extent of a scar. 

[Read: Allergies In Children]

Scar Treatments In Children

Small or minor scars may fade away on their own. But some broad or deep scars may require treatment. As the treatment plan for a scar could vary, talk to your doctor to know various options.

  1. Topical treatment: Prescription lotions, creams, gels, and moisturizers with vitamin E or oil may help improve the appearance of scars by making them less visible. Skin products such as Mederma, Aquaphor, and Eucerine may soften the scar. Before using any such product, it is essential to consult the doctor (2).
  1. Pressure therapy: A pressure dressing such as stocking or elastic bandage is applied on the wound to reduce the scar or prevent the recurrence of keloid (when it was removed surgically) (6).
  1. Laser therapy: The upper layers of the scar tissue are removed using laser light, thus reducing the thickness of the scar. Laser treatment is recommended based on the depth of the scar. The scar may remain but become less prominent. Laser therapy works for most types of scars, including keloid scars (7).
  1. Injections: Corticosteroid injections are administered at the scar to reduce its size and improve the appearance. This treatment is more likely to be used with hypertrophic and keloid scars. Corticosteroid injections can also help reduce pain, itchiness, and redness caused by the scar. Some scars may get reduced by half or go away completely. These injections may have side effects, which need to be first discussed with the doctor.

If a scar does not respond to other modes of treatment or gets worse, then surgical removal might be the solution. There are usually two ways to treat the scar surgically (8) (9).

  1. Scar revision: These techniques are intended to reduce the size of the scar or blend it with the skin. Some of the methods include Z-plasty, laser resurfacing, and dermabrasion.
  1. Scar removal: This is suitable to remove keloids, hypertrophic scars, or scars caused by burns. Depending on the scar, surgeons may go for a reconstructive approach where the damaged scar is replaced with the normal skin.
  1. Silicone gel and sheets: Scars caused by skin burns could be treated with silicone gel and sheets. These sheets are comfortable, easy to use, provide no hindrance to movement, and are safe for children (10).
  1. Cryosurgery: It involves the application of freezing temperatures to a scar to destroy the lesion. It may help restore the skin to its normal texture. A doctor might recommend this treatment in cases of severe scarring (11).

Right care and precautions may help prevent scarring.

[Read: Dry Skin In Children]

How To Prevent Scars In Children?

A few tips may help prevent a significant scar, and some prompt actions could help minimize the extent of a scar of your child.

  • For small scrapes and cuts, wash the wound with water and soap. Cleaning helps reduce the chances of infection and may help prevent scarring. Once the wound is cleaned, you may apply antibacterial cream and use a bandage.
  • If the cut is more profound or the bleeding doesn’t stop, you may take your child to the doctor.
  • Encouraging your child to wear protective gear such as helmets and pads while cycling or skating may prevent any significant injury.
  • Avoiding the harsh sunrays may also prevent any existing scars from intensifying.
  • Never itch or poke an existing scar, as it may get infected and aggravated.
  • Don’t apply any products that claim to reduce the scar. Use only the ones that are recommended by a doctor. 

[Read: Eczema In Children]

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My child has a scar that seems to be getting bigger. Should I be concerned?

If the prescribed treatment options are not helping, and the scar is turning bigger, you may take your child to the doctor. A medical diagnosis is required to understand the type of scar, and then a treatment plan is suggested.

2. Do children’s scars fade?

It depends on the type of scar and its depth. Small scars such as cuts and scrapes usually fade away with time, but the bigger and deeper ones need time and proper treatment.

3. Can an old scar get infected?

If an old scar is turning itchy, painful, swollen, or has turned red, then it may be due to bacterial infection. In that case, you may consult the doctor.

Scars in children are not something to be tensed about. With advanced treatment options, it is now possible to treat the scars and make them lighter or disappear. However, it is also essential to be patient as it takes time for a wound to heal and scar to fade. Also, teaching your child to be careful and explaining the dos and don’ts after getting injured may prevent any significant damage to the skin.

Do you have anything to share regarding scars in kids? Do share your opinion in the comments section below.

References:

1. Scars; NHS UK
2. Scar Management; Nationwide Children’s
3. Managing Your Scar; Moffitt Cancer Center
4. Scars; Loma Linda University Health
5. Keloid Scars; Stanford Health Care
6. Scars: Diagnosis and Treatment; American Academy of Dermatalogy Association
7. Types of Scars; Baylor College of Medicine
8. Surgery for Scars & Keloids; NYU Langone Health
9. Treatments and Procedures: Scar Revision; Johns Hopkins Medicine
10. M. Argirova, O. Hadjiski, and A. Victorova, Non-Operative Treatment of Hypertrophic Scars and Keloids After Burns in Children; Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters (2006)
11. E. E. Zimmerman and P. Crawford, Cutaneous Cryosurgery; American Academy of Family Physicians (2012)

Recommended Articles