Formation of scar tissue is a common concern for parents, especially if the injury occurred at a conspicuous area of the body. There are many things that can be done to prevent scar formation. Most importantly, it is essential to prevention any infection of the wound. However, there are other factors that are completely beyond the control of doctors or parents when it comes to wound repair and scar formation. Genetics plays an important role.
To Sew or Not to Sew
Whether a skin laceration needs sewing, or stitches, is best determined by a trained medical professional. The circumstances of the injury, the location of the wound, and the age of your child are all important factors to be considered when making this decision. Even though most wounds heal without incident, the cosmetic result may be significantly better if a deep cut is sewn with sutures.
Generally speaking, a cut on the face or the hand needs special attention because scarring in these areas is undesirable and may interfere with bodily function. In addition, any injury involving open skin is at risk of getting infected. The doctor may need to clean the wound first before sewing it up. Some wounds are purposely left open (unstitched) because sewing up a badly contaminated wound can trap the bacteria inside, which can cause an even more serious deep tissue infection. When in doubt, it's wisest to have your child evaluated by a doctor. The doctor will make the ultimate decision about whether to suture the laceration or not.
Whenever the injury involves open skin, make sure that your child is not behind on his tetanus shot. A tetanus booster is recommended when your child turns eleven, and then every ten years after that. Contrary to popular belief, your child does not need to be punctured by a rusty nail in order to get tetanus. Any open wound is susceptible to the tetanus infection.
In the past ten years, the use of a superglue-like substance has become increasingly common in the treatment of minor skin cuts. Often known as Liquid Bandage, this can be the best choice of therapy for treating skin cuts in parts of the body that do not have a lot of forces pulling the skin apart. Most doctors are trained to use these adhesives, and they will offer this option when it's appropriate. If it is not offered, politely inquire about the possibility of using it. Your child's injury may not be a suitable candidate for this technique.
Some people are more prone to form large scar tissues even after a relatively minor skin injury. This tendency to form scars is largely a genetic trait. Keloid scars are much bulkier than normal scars because the scar tissue spreads to areas of the skin beyond that of the initial wound. Keloid scars are notoriously difficult to treat. The involvement of a plastic surgeon is often necessary to manage a particular prominent keloid, and even then a satisfactory outcome cannot be guaranteed.
The best way to avoid keloid scars is to prevent any skin trauma in the first place. If many family members tend to form keloid scars, you should not allow your child to have elective piercing, including the ears. Notify your surgeon in advance if your child needs to go under the knife. There might be an alternative, less-invasive approach to the operation that can minimize the appearance of ugly scars.