HOW TO: Prevent scarring
By ALISON JOHNSON
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
To help stop cuts from turning into scars, follow these tips from Dr. Thomas Rohrer, a Massachusetts-based dermatologist and a clinical professor at Boston University and Brown University:
* Clean the wound. Rinse with cool water. If there's dirt or other debris, gently wash with mild soap. Be careful not to push dirt back into a wound.
* Stop the bleeding. Apply constant, firm pressure with a clean cloth. Seek medical attention if bleeding continues after 10 to 20 minutes.
* Keep cuts covered. Use bandages with nonstick gauze large enough to cover the entire wound until it heals. If the area will get wet, go with an occlusive -- air- and water-tight -- dressing.
* Keep cuts moist. Simple Vaseline or Aquaphor healing ointment protects against scabs, which raise the risk of noticeable scars. The ointments can make scars redder after about a week of use, so stop applying them after a wound has healed.
* Avoid hydrogen peroxide. Regular use can inhibit healing, although you can use a small, diluted amount at a first cleaning if soap doesn't remove all dirt.
* Watch for infection. See a doctor if you can't remove all debris from a wound or if it becomes more red, tender or swollen or drains yellowish or green fluid. Very deep cuts, especially puncture wounds through sneakers, also need attention.
* Have a tetanus shot. You need a booster every 10 years. If a wound is deep and you haven't had a shot in the past five years, get a booster.
* Protect from the sun. Scars burn more easily than normal skin and may turn a brown color for several months.
* Seek treatment. Silicone gels, steroids, lasers or fillers can improve the appearance of thick, red, rough or sunken scars.