How Burn Scars Are Treated
After a burn has healed, you’ll likely be left with a scar—especially if it is a second or third-degree burn. The severity of scarring you’ll see depends on the depth of the burn and how it was initially treated and managed. While it may not be possible to totally eliminate burn scars, this doesn’t mean you can’t treat them and decrease their appearance. Treatments for burn scars generally fall under four main categories: over the counter topical treatments, non-surgical specialist procedures, laser therapy, and surgery.
Over-the-Counter Topical Treatments
Constant itchiness is a common issue with burn scars. This occurs because burns impair or destroy oil glands in the affected area, creating dry and itchy skin.
While no treatment may be capable to totally get rid of the itchiness, there are a number of moisturizers and emollients that can help. The ideal thing to do would be to ask your doctor to recommend good brands, but if you’d rather select them yourself, opt for unscented/fragrance-free creams to avoid skin irritation.
These are thin pieces of medical-grade silicone that are worn around the skin to help with scarring. They are broadly used in treating burn scars and are accepted as one of the best non-surgical options for burn scars.
Massage therapy is used to reduce the pain, skin sensitivity, and sometimes very serious itchiness that generally comes with burn scars. Additionally, it can decrease the height and appearance of your burn scars. And because it involves manipulating the scar tissue that’s under your skin, massage therapy lessens the tightness and restriction of movement you’re probably experiencing if your burn injury was extensive.
This method of treating burn scars has been in use for decades and it is generally the first treatment option resorted to for hypertrophic (raised scars) in burn centers. It involves you wearing pressure garments—elastic garments that apply pressure to your scar areas.
Laser treatments are used to relieve tightness, discomfort, and pain from burn scars, as well as smooth them out and diminish their redness. There are different kinds of laser therapies used to treat burn scars. The main ones are a pulse-dyed laser, fractional laser (ablative and non-ablative), CO2 laser, and switched laser.
In this process, a thin piece of skin is taken from a normal part of the body (generally the buttocks or inner thigh) and used to replace the scarred skin. With this kind of surgery, it is likely that the skin used to replace the scarred skin may not match in color or texture.
This procedure is used when the burn scars are to be removed either partially or in their entirety. A balloon-like object called a tissue expander is placed under a normal part of your skin near the scarred area. This tissue expander will be continuously filled with saline solution and over time the usual skin it was placed under will stretch out.