If your baby suffers a bad fall or undergoes surgery, you may have concerns regarding the permanence of a scar. Speak to your pediatrician about safe treatments you can use on your baby. Treatments of scars are typically not considered until the scar has fully matured, which may take as long as 12 to 18 months. If you begin a treatment too soon, it may actually worsen the scar.
According to a review in a 2006 edition of the “Canadian Family Physician,” although a few anecdotal reports indicate that vitamin E may be effective for treating scars in children, further research is needed to confirm this assertion. Also, there were additional reports noting that side effects could occur with the application of vitamin E, including worsening the appearance of the scar.
There are over-the-counter products available to help fade scars. Onion extract is an ingredient in some products that can help smooth out the scars and reduce the redness. According to a 2007 study published in the "Journal of Wound Care," researchers found that onion extract was helpful at fading the color of keloid and hypertrophic scars, but not as effective at reducing itching and diminishing the height of scars. However, using these over-the-counter products is usually not recommended until the child is 2 years old.
To help prevent worsening the appearance of scars in babies, apply sunscreen to the site of the scar. Use formulations that are safe for babies and that have a SPF of at least 35. Clean and pat the area dry before applying a thin layer of sunscreen. Reapply the sunscreen every 30 minutes of sun exposure. According to the University of Michigan Department of Surgery, the skin surrounding the scar can react differently to sun exposure and darken the scar.
You can also discuss the potential for scar removal, once your child gets older, with your pediatrician. If your doctor feels the scar may be bothersome to the child, he can discuss surgical removal options with you. Laser therapy can destroy scar tissue and fade the appearance of the mark. However, the area must be completely healed before you can consider this option which may take a year or longer. Certain scars may not benefit from the use of laser therapy. According to a 2003 study published in “Burns,” researchers found that pulsed dye lasers did not work effectively to reduce the redness, height and texture of scars from burns in children. The laser was designed for the effective removal of port wine stains in children, according to the study. Surgical excision is typically not considered until the age of 4, according to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
- KidsHealth: The Story on Scars
- Canadian Family Physician: Vitamin E for Treating Children's Scars
- Parenting: On Call-Fading a Scar
- Burns: Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment of Burn Scars. Alleviation or Irritation?
- University of Michigan Department of Surgery: Scar Care Instructions
- Alford Facial Plastic Surgery: Beneath the Surface of Scars and Wound Healing
- Children's Hospital of Wisconsin: Infantile Hemangiomas
- Journal of Wound Care: The Effects of Onion Extract on Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars