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3 Tips for Caring for Scars

Your kid fell off his training-wheeler and ended up kissing the sidewalk -- will that gash in his knee scar him for life? Probably not. Most scars fade with time and proper attention, says Pittsburgh pediatric dermatologist Robin Gehris, M.D. Follow these steps to smooth them over:


Right away?

Clean the injury with soap and water, then assess the damage. Any wound that gapes open, even just a little bit, necessitates an ER trip. Your child may need stitches, which will help minimize the scarring. If the wound is on the face, consider requesting a plastic surgeon to do the stitching.

While it heals?

If your child needed stitches, follow the doctor's orders for caring for them until the follow-up visit. If you were able to treat the cut yourself, Dr. Gehris recommends keeping it moist with petroleum jelly or Aquaphor -- allowing a dry scab to form will make the scar worse. Instead, keep the cut covered with a bandage and change it twice a day, cleaning and reapplying the ointment each time. If you see any signs of infection -- such as pus or increasing redness around the area -- consult your pediatrician.

After it heals?

To minimize the scar, Dr. Gehris suggests gently massaging the area for a few minutes two or three times a day. An over-the-counter silicone gel sheet (similar to a bandage) can also be effective. Reviews are mixed on scar creams, but they can't hurt. What does work: slathering on the sunblock. Sun exposure can make scars look worse. If the scar's appearance is still bothering you or your child after six months, see a pediatric dermatologist, who may suggest a topical Retin-A cream or laser treatment.