Burn scar treatment
We know that burn scars can affect your quality of life. They can cause discomfort and itching, and they may also make you feel self-conscious. It’s not always easy to return to your daily life and activities, but there is a lot you can do to prevent and reduce hypertrophic scars.
What are hypertrophic burn scars?
Hypertrophic scars are the most common type of scar following a burn injury. They differ from the surrounding skin and may be thick, wide, red and raised.
Many factors can affect how badly you scar, including the severity of the burn, whether you needed a skin graft (and if so, what type), as well as your skin tone, age and gender.
A burn wound that heals within two weeks is likely to leave only minimal scarring. Wounds that take three weeks or longer to heal will generally have some form of hypertrophic scarring.
How to prevent hypertrophic burn scars
The International Society for Burn Injury (ISBI) guidelines recommend:
For superficial burns (where a wound heals within two weeks):
- Avoid sun exposure and use SPF 50+ sun protection.
- Massage the skin. This can increase skin flexibility around the scar. It can also help with itching and pain, so you feel better all round.
- Moisturise the skin. Hydration helps restore the skin’s barrier function and can reduce roughness and flaking. For burn scars, it’s recommended to apply an emollient (either aqueous cream or an emulsifying ointment) with firm circular movements multiple times a day until the skin is no longer dry or itchy.
For deep dermal burns (where a wound takes three weeks or longer to heal and there is likely to be some hypertrophic scarring):
- Follow the three steps above but also include therapy with pressure garments and silicone. You can use medical-grade silicone products, such as silicone sheets like Mepiform, as soon as the wound has grown a thin covering of skin and is no longer open to the air. The silicone sheets are thin, flexible and self-adherent. They should be worn for between 12 and 24 hours a day.