Moisturisers increase the water content (hydration) of the stratum corneum (top layer of the skin) which fills the spaces between partially desquamated skin flakes and makes the skin appear smoother. In normal skin there is minimal water loss through the epidermis to the surrounding atmosphere. Due to damage to the skin barrier, young and inflamed scars have higher amounts of water loss; this is increased by dry skin. There is a wide range of over-the counter moisturisers available, some products claim to reduce the appearance of scars.

For newly healed wounds and scars that are exposed to sunlight it is vital to use a moisturiser with SPF protection. Because the melanocytes (pigment-cells) are unbalanced and fragile in these areas, they can over-react to normal sun exposure. This can cause the new skin or scar to become permanently darker in colour (hyperpigmented).

Topical Ointments and Creams

Several prescription and over-the-counter topical agents are available, many claim to alleviate symptoms, improve the appearance of scars and accelerate wound healing. Topical therapies have the advantage of being easy to use, are easily available and deliver the ingredients directly to the scar. Patients often decide (maybe based on word of mouth) themselves on which topical agents to use rather than through recommendations from a scar specialist. Topicals are not usually effective on their own and other treatments are also usually necessary. Some information on common topicals is given here: