Papain is a fruit enzyme that acts as a natural exfoliator. All skin, scarred or not, benefits from regular exfoliation. Exfoliants, such as fruit acids, loosen dead, dry skin, allowing it to be washed safely away. If those dead cells aren’t sloughed away, they can clog pores and contribute to acne formation. In the case of scars, sloughing away dead cells speeds your skin’s production of new, healthy cells.
Papain is a natural fruit extract found in papaya. According to author Allison Tannis in “Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles,” papain is a natural exfoliator often included in wrinkle-fighting creams. Papain helps loosen and slough off dead skin cells, which makes it ideal for anti-aging skin care as well as scar treatment.
Types of Papaya
More papain is in unripe green papaya than ripe yellow papaya. In “Beauty by Nature,” author Brigitte Mars suggests you buy green papaya powder if you wish to use papaya as part of an at-home scar remedy treatment. This powder, she notes, is usually processed at a low temperature to preserve the natural enzymes present in the unripe fruit.
Scars And Exfoliation
Exfoliation is a time-honored scar treatment. According to G. Vezzoni and G.M. Vezzoni in “Textbook of Dermatologic Surgery,” the ancient Egyptians mixed combinations of oil, fat, honey and date juice to create an exfoliating scrub; the ancient Babylonians created exfoliants by mixing alabaster powder and salt or pumice. Exfoliants reduce scar tissue by removing damaged skin cells and stimulating production of fresh, healthy cells. In the modern era, exfoliation is often achieved using fruit acids such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids to “peel” away damaged skin and reveal fresher, healthier skin underneath.
You can purchase capsules of papain online to be taken orally, or you can make a homemade papaya mask and apply papain directly to the surface of your scar. In “Natural Beauty for All Seasons,” Janice Cox offers a recipe for a papaya mask. She suggests you mix 2 tbsp. of mashed papaya fruit with 1 tsp. aloe vera gel. Apply this mixture to your face for no more than five minutes, then wash it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.
Other Scar Remedies
Other scar treatment options include injectable fillers, dermabrasion, laser therapy, chemical peels and incision, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Injectable fillers are used pitted or sunken scars, evening out your skin’s surface texture. Dermabrasion, laser therapy and chemical peels can smooth the surface of your skin, get rid of uneven coloration and even remove the top layers of skin to reveal the unscarred skin beneath. Incisions are only used when the scar is too deep to be treated with another method. A surgeon cuts away the existing scar tissue and closes the incision with complex flap closure to keep the new scar as inconspicuous as possible.
- “Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles: Eat Your Way to Firmer, More Beautiful Skin”; Allison Tannis; 2009
- “Beauty by Nature”; Brigitte Mars; 2006
- “Textbook of Dermatologic Surgery, Vol 2”; edited by L.Rusciani and P. Robins; 2008
- “Natural Beauty for All Seasons”; Janice Cox; 1996
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Scar Revision