It’s natural for parents to worry when they notice scars on their children’s skin. Read on for the lowdown on scarring, and what precautions or measures to take for your kids’ optimal recovery.
Every parent dreams that their little ones will be marked for success someday – but definitely not in a physical way! As superficial as it sounds, no doting parent would want their child’s appearance to be marred by external scars, especially if these were absent at the moment of birth, unlike birthmarks, for example.
The skin consists of a top layer called the epidermis, and beneath that is the dermis. Should these skin layers sustain injury in the form of an open wound, the body gets to work to “patching up” the affected area. During the healing process, a scab forms over the wound to protect it from possible infection. After the scab falls off, what’s left is usually a scar.
Sometimes, however, the incident(s) leading up to the risk of scar formation are harder to foresee and hence avoid altogether. Skin injuries from burns and scalds to cuts and scratches, may result from mishaps that unexpectedly occur during playtime or even in the midst of everyday activities. Other risk factors for scarring include insect bites, blistering from new footwear, ailments like eczema or chickenpox, which could cause the child to scratch repeatedly, or even something as serious as post-op recovery.
Whatever the case, the condition remains a paradox: there would be no scar without a wound; but a scar is caused because that same wound heals! Consider as well, that not all scars are the same. Here are the three common types:
For keloid scars in particular, studies have found that their tendency could run in the family. Darker-skinned people are also 15 times more likely to have this type of scarring. The good news however, is that the average age for keloid formation is between 11-30 years, which means that children under 11 have a reduced chance of developing this scar type.
Even though children have higher collagen and moisture levels in their skin as compared with adults, there are still other factors that impact the outcome on scarring. These include: the severity of the injury, where the wound is located on the body, genetic disposition (as mentioned, keloid scars could be hereditary), as well as ethnicity. In darker-skinned people or those who are tanned, scars may appear more obvious as they fade.
It’s natural to want to take extra precautions during recovery of a wound. Sometimes though, despite your best efforts as a parent, you find to your dismay that a scar is still visible at the site where the scab once was. Don’t blame yourself – a scar just can’t be avoided as it is nature’s way of signalling that a wound is healing… and the aesthetic outcome is really anybody’s guess! Nevertheless, the niggling questions remain: So what’s true and what isn’t?
While it’s true that vitamins are essential for different body functions, Vitamin D is important mainly for healthy bones and teeth development – not skin! Overexposure to the sun without protection is bad enough already for normal skin, let alone skin that’s healing.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, scars are more sensitive to sunlight and are at greater risk of sunburn, darkening and discolouration. Minimise the scar’s exposure to any sunlight by wearing protective clothing and applying a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
This myth still somehow persists despite being debunked countless times! Rest assured that this discoloration won’t happen. Medical doctors affirm that any deterioration in the appearance of the scar is likely due to infection during the healing process, with bacteria and germs introduced to the wound possibly after scratching.
Now that two of those prevalent myths have been addressed, most parents would still like to know if there is anything worth consuming (internally) or applied (topically) to improve the appearance of a scar.
Nutritionists recommend a diet rich in Vitamins A, C, E to facilitate healing of scar tissue. Parents will be relieved to know that there are actually a variety of foods containing these vitamins to accommodate even the pickiest young eater.
Besides incorporating specific vitamins into your child’s diet, there is also the option of using topical treatments for scar healing. These are usually available as ointments, creams, lotions, gels or even oils and are typically applied directly onto scars or dark marks to improve their appearance. Just like the consumption of specific foods however, this solution requires time and patience for results to show, but it’s at least non-invasive in nature.
Apart from the notable benefits of lightening, softening and smoothening of scars, topical scar removal treatments also have a valuable intangible benefit – and that’s the bonding and reassurance that naturally arise as you literally apply the salve to your child’s wounds.
Indeed, the power of physical touch could well be the best way to soothe and remove the sting of a scar from your precious little ones. Let the healing truly begin.
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