Scars can vary immensely in appearance, texture and sensation, as well as in the way they heal; in fact they are as unique as the person they’re on. But if you’ve got a scar you will certainly be asking yourself how long it will take for it to fade away completely.
How long a scar takes to fade depends on many things, so it’s worth being prepared to help it along its way as soon as the original wound is healed over. First let’s take a look at what happens in the process of healing.
The four stages of scar healing
This is the body’s initial reaction to trauma, which involves sending blood to the area and clotting to patch up the open wound as soon as possible.
The body then reacts with an immune system response, causing inflammation and repair cells to the site of the wound, making it hot, painful and swollen. This stage happens after haemostasis, and lasts about three or four days.
This is the stage where the real rebuilding happens, as the wound closes up and heals over. Over the next three weeks new tissue is formed from collagen and cells, the wound contracts and is resurfaced.
In the final stage of scar healing, the wound heals at a deeper level, with the collagen being realigned so that the structure becomes strong and smooth. This can go on for up to two years and will determine how the scar looks in the end.
Factors that determine how long a scar takes to heal
How smoothly and quickly a scar goes through those four stages depends on many things, some of which are in your control, and some not.
- Where on the body it is
- How easy is it to look after
- Whether the scar is on a highly mobile area of skin (ie a joint)
- How thin is the skin where it happened
- What caused the injury/trauma
- How severe the damage was
- What colour the surrounding skin is
- Whether the wound got infected
- Whether the skin was dry while healing
- How old you are
- How well-nourished you are
- Whether you have underlying health conditions
- If the scar has had sun exposure
- Genetic predisposition to keloid scarring
Given all these different factors, it isn’t surprising that scars can vary greatly in how they heal and what they end up looking like. You can help your scar to heal well by looking after it, keeping it clean and moisturised, looking after yourself, making sure you have adequate vitamins, and not smoking or drinking.
So, in conclusion, a scar will start to fade from the third stage of healing, after the initial inflammation has calmed down, but it can take up to two years for the process to work through. After this point, the body has done what it can to fade and smooth a scar and it’s unlikely that much else will happen on its own.
During that process it’s important to keep the area in as good a condition as possible, moisturising with nourishing emollient oils and creams so that the skin is supported in its healing. For information about why we’d suggest using rosehip oil for that purpose, see our blog Is Rosehip Oil Good for Scars?
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
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