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These Myths About Scar Prevention Might Ruin Your Skin

In this video, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Kaveh Alizadeh, MD, debunks common myths about scar prevention.

Lauren SmithMera Goodman, MD
Written by Lauren Smith | Reviewed by Mera Goodman, MD
Updated on December 30, 2020

Sure, some scars you wear proudly (like that tiny scratch on your hand from your childhood cat—rest in peace). Others, however,  you’d rather do without.

So what causes those scars in the first place? When your skin is injured, the body has to generate new skin cells to fill in or close the wound. This often winds up a different color (pink, red, or white) or slightly raised compared to the surrounding skin, forming that signature scar look.

The appearance of the scar depends on how well it heals, so knowing the facts on proper wound care can make all the difference. Here are four myths about scars to stop believing, according to Kaveh Alizadeh, MD, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College.

  • MYTH: Hydrogen peroxide helps the skin heal better

    REALITY: Hydrogen peroxide can actually slow down healing because it’s too harsh on the skin tissue and can destroy new cells. It’s best to clean your wound with just soap and water, according to the CDC.

  • MYTH: Let cuts “air out” to heal faster

    REALITY: Dry skin doesn’t heal as well. Period, end of story.  Always, always, always keep wounds moist with antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly and covered with clean gauze or bandages. Find more information about how to treat a cut here.

  • MYTH: Rub vitamin E on a wound to prevent scarring

    REALITY: Vitamin E might actually hinder healing and—in some cases—cause allergic reactions.

  • MYTH: A tan helps your scar blend in better

    REALITY: There’s nothing about tanning that’s healthy for your skin. UV rays lead to hyperpigmentation, which actually makes those little scars stand out even more from red or brown discoloration, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. You’re better off covering your scars with sunscreen with at least SPF 30—or better yet, covering with clothing—to help the scars continue to fade and blend in. (Here’s the derm-approved way to apply sunscreen.)

Most scars fade over time, but dermatologists or plastic surgeons may be able to help if you have a stubborn scar that persists for several years and is making you self-conscious.

Additional Medical Contributors
  • Kaveh Alizadeh, MDDr. Alizadeh is a board-certified plastic surgeon and the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College.

    References

    Baumann LS, Spencer J. The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars. Dermatol Surg. 1999 Apr;25(4):311-

    Emergency wound care after a natural disaster. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on December 30, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/woundcare.html.)

    View All References (4)

    Proper wound care: How to minimize a scar. Schaumburg, IL: American Academy of Dermatology. (Accessed on December 30, 2020 at https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/injured-skin/wound-care.)

    Scars. Rolling Meadows, IL: American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. (Accessed on September 25, 2017 at https://www.asds.net/Scars/.)

    Scar treatment myths & misconceptions: What really works. Kingston, WA: Scarfade, 2014. (Accessed on September 25, 2017 at http://www.scarfade.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/scarfade-myths-wp.pdf.)

    Vaseline versus expensive scar remedies. New York, NY: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2011. (Accessed on September 25, 2017 at https://www.surgery.org/consumers/plastic-surgery-news-briefs/vaseline-expensive-scar-remedies-1034552.)

    GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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