No, once they have set in, you likely cannot totally remove your burn scars, but there are ways to soften, minimize, or make your scars less noticeable. There is no “magic eraser” for burn scars, but these options can provide some better outcomes.
How can I soften my burn scars?
There are quite a few ways you can soften your burn scars:
Silicone gel sheets can soften and flatten hypertrophic scar tissue. Hypertrophic scar tissue is raised, uneven scar tissue that often results from serious burns. Several studies, including one published in 2009 in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, have confirmed their effectiveness. The 2009 study noted an improvement in the scars’ appearance as well as a decrease in the scars’ severity grades.
Steroid injections can reduce itching, which is a common problem after a burn. Frequent itching can lead to infection and/or scarring.
Burns often itch because damaged tissue tends to be more sensitive to environmental factors. Steroids, injected directly into the tissue, can mitigate this hypersensitivity. The injections can also reduce the size of scars.
Moisturizers are vital after a burn. Damaged tissue is often dry and less able to retain necessary moisture. Using a high-quality moisturizer several times a day can help with this. Check with your treatment team for advice on which specific moisturizers will work best for your situation. The last thing you want to do is use anything on your burn scar that will cause an allergic reaction.
Massage can be helpful for scar tissue in two different ways: it can knead extra fluid out of the scar tissue and it can work moisturizers in to the tissue.
Scar creams: You can use a scar cream like Mederma® to soften your burn scar and make it less noticeable. Always ask your doctor before putting anything on your scar. Never put any scar creams on a burn that has not fully healed.
How can I minimize my burn scars?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the steps you should take to minimize your scarring will depend on:
- Your age, health, and medical history
- Burn type, location, and severity
- Allergies and tolerance for certain procedures or medications
Depending on your preferences and the severity of your scar, you might consider one or more of the following:
Skin grafts, applied after the removal of scar tissue, can help cover scars. It is important to note that you may have some scarring associated with skin grafting as well.
Pressure garments are elastic garments that place direct pressure on the healing burn wound. This pressure softens and minimizes the scars. The pressure also helps minimize or prevent the formation of hypertrophic scars. Burn teams often use pressure garments after skin grafting.
If you are dealing with contractures, tightening of the skin from scarring, you may consider plastic surgery. Plastic surgery can also help achieve cosmetic improvement of burns in highly visible locations, such as on the face, neck, throat, and chest.
Avoid sun exposure to prevent your burn scars from darkening permanently. This is called hyperpigmentation. Make sure to cover up for at least two years following the complete healing of your burn. Hyperpigmentation will draw attention to your scars and worsen their appearance.
For tips on sun protection, check out our post.
How can I make my burn scars less noticeable?
You can use makeup to disguise burn scars, especially on the face, throat, chest, and hands. Recent advances in this specialized makeup have made it possible to achieve spectacular results.
You can also use clothing to cover burn scars or to draw attention away from them.
Tattoos can also make burn scars less noticeable. There are two types of tattoos used for this purpose: traditional body art tattoos and “medical” tattoos.
Body art tattoos may incorporate the scar into the design of the body art, while medical tattoos make loss of pigmentation in burn scars nearly invisible. Medical tattoos use pigments that match the color of the surrounding healthy tissue to color the damaged scar tissue back to its original skin tone.
For more information on managing burn scars and handling issues with body image, check out our blog.