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Caring for Scars and Stretch Marks

Tips and products to help you care for damaged or scarred skin

By S. A. CrawfordPublished about a month ago 9 min read
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Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

This is going to be an unusual post for me; I don't think I've ever posted in the Blush community, but I'm spreading my wings this year. They say you should write what you know, and if there's one thing I know about it's damaged skin. Scars, bruises, stretch marks; we all have them, and I have more than my fair share thanks to a potent mix of recklessness, contact sports and, to put it gently, mental health problems.

When I was 18 I walked into a department store on the verge of tears and asked a woman behind the beauty counter how to get rid of scars and stretch marks... she sold me a £90 oil, a £15 brush for my skin and told me to drink more water.

Not bad advice, but you may not be surprised to hear that I still, in fact, have those scars and stretchmarks. I did learn to care for them in a way that helped them to blend in, however, and I want to share that information for anyone else who's having a hard time dealing with changes to their body.

In the interests of honesty - this article will contain some affiliate links, you won't be charged more if you choose to use them though I will earn a small commission. Whether or not you choose to use them, however, I stand by my recommendations; they may not work for everyone, but they worked for me.

What Are Scars and Stretch Marks?

Scars and stretch marks can be lumped together in the sense that they are visible marks on the skin, often caused by some kind of trauma, but beyond that they're very different. Stretch marks or striae are caused when the middle layer of the skin (the dermis) tears or weakens due to rapid stretching of the skin. Scars, by contrast, are most often caused by injury or surgery.

Unfortunately, both can be considered unsightly and many people are embarrassed of them. I know I was for a long time. The truth is that the prevention is better than a cure in most cases.

Preventing Stretch Marks and Scarring

Preventing scars is as simple and as complex as avoiding injury, in the first place; which is easier said than done in many cases. But in my experience proper wound care can also minimize the chance of serious scarring.

Wound Care Tips to Minimize Scarring

  • Keep the wound clean: infection increases the risk of scarring, and the likelihood of severe scarring, hugely. Clean and protect any new wounds quickly.
  • Seek medical intervention when in doubt: if you have cut, burn, or abrasion that seems infected, or you're not sure you're actually capable of caring for it properly - seek medical attention. Getting stitches might suck, but effective, professional stitching will leave a far less noticeable scar than allowing a wound to heal in whatever shape the skin sits.
  • Keep the wound moist: use a gentle emollient to protect wounds as they heal. For example, I have used plain, unscented Vaseline in the past. It acts as a barrier and prevents dry, itchy scabs from getting out of control.
  • Don't pick at your scabs: while it can be tempting, scratching and picking may open up the wound, or create new cuts, and make infection a concern once more.
  • Be wary of using products on wounds and fresh scars: there are hundreds, if not thousands of products that claim to prevent or remove scars. Some help, some don't... but on a healing wound or fresh scar many can cause more problems. Stick to your doctors advice until the wound has healed in full.

Can You Prevent Stretch Marks?

This is a question than haunted and hunted me when I was younger. Stretch marks are most often caused by rapid weight gain or weight loss, but they are also caused by rapid growth spurts during puberty. Some people are covered in them, while others seems to skate by body changes without a mark on them.

The truth is complex; it is possible to prevent stretch marks, but some people are simply prone to them. Those who have Cushing's syndrome, for example, are more prone to them. People who have family members with stretch marks may also be more likely to form them.

So, to be brutal: you can minimize the chance of forming stretch marks, or mitigate the chance of forming large stretch marks... but if you're prone to forming them, you probably won't avoid them altogether. Not unless you get through the majority of your life without major growth spurts or changes in weight and shape.

Tips to Prevent or Minimize Stretch Mark Formation

This is where I get to pass along the same tired and trite advice you've heard thousands of times before, but bear with me.

  • Eat healthily: a nutrient rich diet is important for every part of our bodies. Getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need will give your skin the best chance of staying healthy and working with your body as it changes.
  • Exercise: this is a round-about one, the leading causes of weight gain (and therefore stretch marks) are sedentary lifestyles and mental health issues. Staying active will address the sedentary part, and it's been a godsend for my mental health. Do what you want with the information, but running a few miles and lifting a few weights when you can will only improve your health (in most cases).
  • Maintain a consistent weight: this is a bastard of a tip and I know its not always possible, but there it is. If you can do so, maintain a consistent weight; it's the best way to prevent new stretch marks from forming.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize your skin regularly: soft, hydrated skin is better at stretching. This tip comes from the NHS, or more specifically a dermatologist, so I'll pass it along. I used a natural loofah to exfoliate every third day and Palmer's Cocoa Butter to moisturize; if nothing else I smell like chocolate and my skin feels great.
  • Stay hydrated: water solves everything, well not everything, but it is the foundation of life on earth so maybe we should switch the Monster for a glass of water from time to time.

So, You Have Scars and Stretch Marks

Let's be honest, if you read the title and clicked through you're most likely in the same position as me; you already have scars and stretch marks, and you hope someone else has the answer.

I won't lie to you; I've never managed to get rid of them altogether, but I've got more than a few that have faded and healed to the point that you'd have to inspect my skin closely to see them. Some of that can be chalked up to time, some to proper wound care at the point of injury, and I honestly believe some of it is because of the way I've cared for my skin over the years. Your skin is beautiful and resilient; it will heal as best it can if you give it everything it needs to do so.

Helping Scars and Stretch Marks to Fade

I'm not a dermatologist, so keep in mind that this is advice from my own experience. Nonetheless, I have found that the things I do to care for my scars tend to be helful when dealing with my stretch marks, too.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of scars; flat scars and lumpy keloid scars. Keloid scars tend to form most commonly on the shoulders, chest, neck, face, and head, but they can form anywhere if the injury is severe enough. I should mention now that I have no experience in dealing with severe burn scars, so if that's what you're dealing with my advice and experience may not be useful. Here's how I've cared for my scars and stretch marks to help them fade:

  • Exfoliate (gently) once the wound has healed fully: proper, gentle, and effective exfoliation removes dead skin cells and improves blood flow, this is important for healing.
  • Use silicone scar sheets: one of the few treatments for scars that is backed by medical research is the use of silicone scar gel, sheets, or tape. This won't magically remove scars, but they can minimize their appearance and I've found them effective, I use these silicone scar sheets but there are plenty on the market.
  • Use keloid bump treatments: I'll be honest, I don't know if this has research to back it up, but I have had more than a few piercings in my life and with scar prone skin, I've also had a few keloid bumps. I started using the same keloid bump oil that I had used for piercings on old, lumpy, thick scars and while it took around six weeks to see a difference, I would say they're a little smoother now.
  • Moisturize daily: keep your skin hydrated and moisturized to give it them best chance of healing, but also to minimize the appearance of scars. I don't know the science behind it, but I have noticed that my scars and stretch marks are a little more obvious when I'm dehydrated or my skin is dry.
  • Wear sun cream: protect your skin from the sun, not just to minimize the appearance of scars, stretch marks, and blemishes, but also to prevent damage from the sun. I use P20 50+ sunscreen because its fairly water resistant and unscented, but anything that suits your skin will do.
  • Get enough zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D: zinc matters when it comes to skin, hair, and nail health, as are vitamins C and D. If I have an injury or see new stretch marks, I take care to get enough of these nutrients in particular. The truth is that if you're the kind of person who heals well and quickly, or slowly and poorly, taking multivitamins won't change the way your body works, but giving your body everything it needs to heal is never a bad idea.
  • Give it time: at the end of the day, it all comes down to time. What you do can accelerate the healing and fading processes, but if you were to ignore your scars and stretch marks they would still fade over time. I don't know how you feel about that, but it gives me comfort.

skincare
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About the Creator

S. A. Crawford

Writer, reader, life-long student - being brave and finally taking the plunge by publishing some articles and fiction pieces.

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Comments (5)

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  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Awesome advice & how to care for scars and stretch marks!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Donna Reneeabout a month ago

    Thanks for sharing!! The silicone sheets really are great. Ugh. I heal slowly and it’s super frustrating.

  • JBazabout a month ago

    I have two children and oddly enough no stretch marks.😀. I must be gifted.

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    Great Topic to write about. I know a great product for stretch marks, Motherhood Stretch products. I used it, during my pregnancy. Deep Scars are hard to get rid off and it depend on your pegmentation

  • productvortexabout a month ago

    Thanks, very informative.

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