When your child gets hurt, one of the questions that may arise in your mind is if it will leave a scar. So, we have listed scar treatments in children to help you get a better understanding. While some scars in children are minor and fade away with time, others may stay for a longer duration and may require medical intervention. So, here we talk about the different types of scars and their specific treatments. Read on to know more.
How Are Scars Formed?
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
1. Keloid scars
These grow at the wound site and result due to overproduction of collagen during remodelling of 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
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
Certain skin conditions such as chickenpox, acne, or injury can leave pitted or sunken scars. They are also known as atrophic scars.
4. Scar contractures
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.
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. It is important to realize that the outcomes are better in scars where treatment interventions are initiated in early phases of wound healing.
- 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 dermatologist (2).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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 dermatologist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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 dermatologist.
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 seldom a cause for concern. While some scars will stay longer, others might fade over time. There are plenty of sophisticated treatment options to treat scars in children. But it is better to remain patient until the wounds heal and the scars fade by themselves. You can prevent scars by washing the wound, applying antibacterial cream, using a bandage, and avoiding harsh sun rays. However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop, you should take your child to the doctor.
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)