A childhood rollerblading accident. A high school sports injury. A slip of the knife while chopping vegetables. Considering how frequently accidents happen, it's highly unlikely you've made it to wherever you are in life without accumulating a scar or two. Scars form when the body generates new tissue to heal and help reconnect damaged skin, resulting in "new" skin that is of a different texture and quality than the older skin [source: WebMD].
You may be proud of some scars -- or at least they don't bother you -- but others probably make you self-conscious. If you are uncomfortable with the appearance of your scars, you may be looking for a way to make them less noticeable.
There are creams on the market -- several of which contain shea butter, a type of natural fat -- that claim to make scars disappear, but overall dermatologists discredit these. While these creams may, in some cases, help to reduce the appearance of scars, they will not provide significant results. You can't really erase a scar completely by using topical creams [source: Gibson]. However, you may receive some small benefit from their use: For example, the nourishing vitamins and fatty acids they contain can help your overall complexion.
If your wound is the result of surgery, however, and you want to use topical treatments as a preventative measure while it's still healing, ask your doctor for recommendations on over-the-counter and prescription ointments. These may be helpful in the healing process and produce a less visible scar [source: WebMD: Cosmetic Procedures].
If you are still looking to improve the appearance of an existing scar, you have other treatment options, including steroid injections to help soften the appearance of the scar and flatten it, dermabrasion to hone down the surface of a raised scar, or laser resurfacing, which takes away upper layers of the skin to minimize scars [source: WebMD]. These are all procedures that you will need to go to a dermatologist for, but they are infinitely more effective than shea butter or any over-the-counter cure you may find on the market.
For more information on treating damaged or unhealthy skin, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Gibson, Lawrence E. "Scar cream: Does it work?" Mayo Clinic. July 12, 2008. (Accessed 9/16/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/scars
- WebMD. "Cosmetic Procedures: Scars." April 1, 2005. (Accessed 9/16/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/cosmetic-procedures-scars
- WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Scars." March 1, 2007. (Accessed 9/16/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/scars