Holiday season is upon us and millions of people across the UK will be preparing their Summer beauty bag and travel health essentials. However, nearly half of those surveyed in the new poll were not aware of the need to protect a scar from the sun’s rays, rising to 56% of over 65-year-olds. There appears to be confusion about treating scars, with 19% of people most likely to use water, 35% choosing Aloe Vera, closely followed by Vitamin E (22%) and even butter (5%). In fact, silicone treatment is the first line, gold standard treatment8 to improve the physiological and cosmetic appearance of hypertrophic and keloid scars – something only 7% of those surveyed were aware of.
Mr Nick Wilson Jones, Consultant Paediatric Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, Morriston Hospital, comments, “While people’s general knowledge of sun protection has grown dramatically in recent years, this survey shows there is a real lack of understanding of how UV can aggravate the healing process of scars. Scar tissue has poorly functioning melanocytes, the body’s natural protection against UV, so it is very important that you protect a scar from the sun’s rays – at home or abroad. Scarring can be increased further if exposed to the sun during the healing period, and if not protected, can become bigger, harder and darker in colour. However, don’t forget that holidays boost our mental and emotional wellbeing, and there’s no need to let a scar hold you back. Just make sure you follow sun protection guidelines, carefully cover any scars and treat appropriately when they are exposed to UV rays.”
Scar tissue is much more susceptible to the sun’s rays than regular skin and should be protected from UV exposure until the pink/red colour has subsided which can take up to 18-24 months in some people. Water loss and collagen production following surgery or injury are greater than normal and can lead to excessive scarring. So, for example, if you’ve recently undergone a cosmetic procedure such as a breast enhancement in time for the Summer season or had a C-Section, scar after-care should be top of your list. However, 60% of people surveyed didn’t realise that common cosmetic surgery procedures require scar after-care.
While many people are rightly confident showing their scars in the Summer, others are reticent. Research shows that scars can influence psychological wellbeing, which can lead to diminished quality of life2, including anxiety, social isolation and depression 3,4. In the survey;
- 60% of respondents thought that people would be most conscious to show their scars on a beach, 42% on holiday and 40% at a wedding
- 77% of people would feel most self-conscious to have a scar on their face
Although anyone can develop an abnormal scar, the risk factors for these are greater for darker skin types such as people from Africa and African Caribbean and south Indian communities, younger people between the ages of 10 and 30 are more likely to develop keloids5,6 and people going through hormonal changes such as pregnancy or puberty7.
Silicones are the gold standard therapy for the prevention and treatment of hypertrophic and keloid scarring and work by forming a breathable, waterproof sheet over the affected area to act like an extra layer of skin. This invisible sheet binds the outer layer of dead skin cells to protect the underlying tissue against chemical, physical and microbial invasion of the scar. It also provides an optimal healing environment by hydrating and protecting the area and allowing collagen production to normalise and improve the appearance of scars.
Skin is actually the largest organ in the human body, shielding us from extremes of temperature, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It is the protective covering, the first barrier to fight illness and disease, and a passageway to the bloodstream. Therefore, scar safety is vital throughout the summer months, whether it’s the need to protect flat scars, C-section marks or burns.