Stay out of the sun. Exposing scars to the sun can cause them to darken and slow the healing process, Dr Puneet says. How? Ultraviolet rays stimulate melanocytes (pigment-producing cells), leading to further discoloration.
Before heading outdoors, put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both ultraviolet A (long-wave) and ultraviolet B (shortwave) rays. Ingredients with broad-spectrum protection include benzophenones (sulisobenzone and oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX). Reapply after swimming, after sweating, and after more than 2 hours in the sun.
Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat.
Don't pick and squeeze. Scars, which are made mainly of collagen, are your body's way of repairing itself. Acne scars are typically indented because of collagen loss from intense inflammation, Alster says.
Picking leads to more inflammation and injury of your skin, which add to the discoloration and scarring. Squeezing or trying to pop a pimple causes pus and bacteria to filter deeper into the skin, bringing on more collagen damage, Moy says.
Don't use vitamin E on scars. You may have heard that applying vitamin E to a scar will help it heal faster. But according to a study from the University of Miami, applying the nutrient directly onto a scar can actually hinder its healing. In the study, vitamin E either had no effect or made matters worse for 90% of the patients, and 33% who put vitamin E on the skin developed a contact dermatitis.