How to Get Rid of Old Scars: Top 10 Remedies – Healthline

While some people consider their scars to be marks of pride, many people just want them to go away. Since they can affect your appearance, they can make you feel self-conscious.
If you want to get rid of an old scar, you need to understand what a scar is and what type you’re trying to get rid of.
A scar forms as part of the natural healing process following an injury. When the dermis — the second layer of skin — is damaged, your body forms collagen fibers to repair the damage, resulting in a scar.
In most cases, the faster a wound heals, the less collagen will be deposited, and the less noticeable the scar will be.
Typically, the severity of the scar is based on the severity of the injury or damage. They form differently on different parts of the body and based on the age of the injured person.
There’s no known way to make scars totally disappear, but many will become lighter over time on their own.
There are also some medical treatments and over-the-counter (OTC) options that can help reduce the appearance of scars.
Silicone gels and sheets can be used on healing skin, not open wounds. They’re soft- and flexible-style gels or sheets that are applied like a self-adhesive dressing. They’re designed to help soften the skin and flatten the scar.
Worn daily, they can be washed and reused for up to 3 months. You don’t need a prescription — they can be bought over the counter at your local store.
Corticosteroid injections can be effective at treating certain types of scars, like thick or keloid scars.
They’re injected directly into the scar tissue to help decrease the itching, redness, and burning sensations that these scars may produce. They aren’t used on other types of scars because they can cause a permanent indentation if injected directly into a flat scar.
The injections reduce swelling and flatten the scar. The injections tend to be given on multiple occasions over a series of months. You can ask a doctor if this is something they can offer you.
Also referred to as laser skin resurfacing or laser scar revision, laser therapy targets blood vessels that can reduce the appearance of a scar.
While it can’t eliminate the scar completely, the pulses of light can make the scar flatter, reduce redness, and lessen pain and itchiness.
Laser therapy is carried out by a doctor or an aesthetic professional.
Injectable dermal fillers are gel-like substances injected underneath your skin.
Normally, they’re made from hyaluronic acid, a substance that organically forms occurs in your body. They can sometimes be used to plump pitted scars, for example, if you have deep scarring as a result of acne.
Dermal fillers are injected by a doctor or an aesthetic or dermatology professional.
Chemical peels can be used to treat mild scarring. The chemical solution dissolves the outermost layer of the skin to help increase cell turnover and reveal a smoother, less irregular complexion.
This treatment works better for people with lighter skin. Aesthetic professionals normally carry out chemical peels.
If you have darker skin, a glycolic acid peel may be more effective. Azelaic acid is also a good option for treating acne and pigment on the face.
Regardless of skin tone, make sure you use sunscreen daily and reapply if you’re exposed to the sun, as peels make the skin extremely sensitive to light and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Subcision is another common aesthetic treatment used to treat acne scarring. It involves inserting a small needle into your skin to release the acne scar from the underlying tissue.
This can be particularly effective for depressed or indented scars.
This allows the skin to rise and diminish the acne scar’s appearance. It’s carried out in an aesthetic or dermatology clinic.
This acne scar treatment uses a surgical tool that matches the size of the scar.
Much like the name describes, the scar is removed with the tool and then stitched up. It’s one of the best ways of removing these deep styles of scars, like ice pick or boxcar scars.
Visit an aesthetic or dermatology clinic to learn more.
Microneedling can be used on a whole host of scar types.
As the name implies, the treatment uses microneedles to prick the skin and create microchannels. This stimulates collagen production, which helps to restructure the skin and reduce the appearance of scars.
Aesthetic or dermatology clinics normally offer microneedling.
Depending on the type of scar you have, a doctor may be able to prescribe a cream. Some prescription-only creams may be more effective than what you buy over the counter.
These products often contain a high-strength retinoid or a topical steroid to decrease itching and swelling.
Be sure to protect your skin from the sun, especially when scars are healing. Apply sunscreen daily and opt for sun-protective clothing like hats and scarves when you’re exposed to the sun.
There are a wealth of OTC options too.
These creams don’t contain active prescription-only ingredients but instead contain other alternatives that aim to reduce the size and appearance of scars as well as combat redness or itchiness.
There are also several natural remedies that may help with the appearance of scars.
In one 2019 review that looked at 23 trials, researchers concluded that aloe vera can improve wound healing and can help with scars when used alongside other methods.
To use it:
The scientific evidence around vitamin E and scars is inconclusive. Research on how vitamin E can treat acne and heal its scars is inconclusive.
In a 2016 study, researchers concluded that there isn’t enough evidence that topical vitamin E has a significant beneficial effect on scars to justify its widespread use. They noted the need for more high quality studies.
Try it:
There isn’t scientific evidence that honey can help with scars.
One 2016 study that looked at the impact of manuka honey on scars found that while honey has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it didn’t make a difference in scar appearance when applied topically.
Try it:
There’s limited scientific evidence to support the use of coconut oil to fade scars.
A 2018 review noted that coconut oil is effective at promoting wound healing by:
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Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been shown to help with preventing acne scars.
One 2014 study attributed this to the succinic acid present in ACV. Succinic acid can control inflammation caused by acne, which in turn may prevent scars from forming.
Try it:
Research suggests that lavender essential oil could help with wound healing.
One 2016 study on rats found that the surface area of wounds topically treated with lavender oil was significantly decreased when compared with that of the control group.
Try it:
There’s no solid medical evidence that lemon can help scars.
One 2018 study on mice found that topical application of lemon oil helped to reduce skin inflammation and skin damage in mice.
Try it:
Citrus juices and oils, including lemon, lime, orange, and bergamot, are known to cause photosensitivity, or sensitivity to light. If you choose to use a citrus product on your face, avoid exposing your skin to UV rays for at least 12 hours, and always use sunscreen.
There’s limited medical evidence supporting the idea that potatoes can help with scars. But one 2017 study found that potato peel may help heal minor burns.
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One 2019 study confirmed that rosehip oil significantly promoted wound healing and effectively improved scars.
A 2017 study suggested that frankincense oil may assist the healing of human dermal fibroblasts.
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An older 1995 study that looked specifically at postsurgical wound healing noted significant improvement when baking soda was applied. This was observed at day 7 and more so at day 14.
Try it:
Before trying any of the remedies above, thoroughly wash and dry the scar and the area around it. Only use these remedies on scars, not open wounds. Always do a patch test before trying a new product or ingredient on your skin to prevent irritation and rash. If any of these remedies cause irritation, stop use immediately.
If you want to make a scar look less noticeable, you may want to try a natural remedy. There are many people who believe that natural remedies can get the job done.
As with any home remedy, have a conversation with your healthcare professional before starting. A doctor can offer insights and recommendations about which remedies you should or shouldn’t try.
Read this article in Spanish.
Last medically reviewed on March 21, 2022
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Current Version
Mar 21, 2022
Written By
Scott Frothingham
Edited By
Crystal Hoshaw
Medically Reviewed By
Clare Wightman MS, PAC
Copy Edited By
Sarah Mills
Mar 8, 2019
Written By
Scott Frothingham
Edited By
Frank Crooks
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