Q. How can parents ensure that a wound on a child's face or elsewhere on the body leaves as minimal a scar as possible?
A. Typically, the first year after an injury is the time period when a permanent scar is determined, so that's the time to do as much as possible to ensure the best outcome, says Dr. Nicholas Bastidas, a pediatric plastic surgeon at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
He recommends the following:
*After the wound heals -- typically four to six weeks after occurrence -- massaging the area for 10 minutes a day can help soften a scar.
*Always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even in winter. "Even if it's not hot out, you still have sunlight and UV rays," he says. Reapply every 45 minutes to an hour if the area gets wet and every two to three hours otherwise, he says. Also wear protective clothing, such as hats or long sleeves, to cover the scar.
*Controversy exists over how much anti-scar creams help, Bastidas says. But, because parents like to feel like they are doing something, Bastidas prefers they try applying silicone tape to the wound daily, with the advice of a plastic surgeon on exactly how to apply it. "Something about the pressure is thought to make the scar better," he says. If a child won't wear the tape, a silicone gel may also prove effective, he says.
*If after a year the scar is thick, red or itchy, then laser treatment, steroid injections or surgery can be considered, Bastidas says.