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Minimize Scarring From a Deep Gash

by Dr. Tina Alster, MD

Heed the Band-Aid advice: Keep your wound covered and moist. Moisture accelerates healing by facilitating cell regeneration, while a bandage shields the wound from dirt and sunlight, both of which can cause discoloration.  Here's how a dermatologist would do it:

Apply the right ointment - Grease your gash with Polysporin, not Neosporin, before you cover it with a bandage.  Neosporin's active ingredient, neomycin, can cause an allergic reaction that actually slows the healing process.

Lighten up - for a deep wound, consider having a pulsed-dye laser treatment (PDL), which costs about $250 and can prevent a scar from forming if it is done within a week of the injury. Most silicon-based antiscar ointments found in drugstores, such as Mederma and Scarguard, on the other hand, won't.  And "natural" skin healers such as vitamin E and aloe vera can actually make scarring worse, according to a recent study at Columbia University.

Consider laser surgery - If it's too late to prevent a scar, consider having laser surgery, which uses thin beams of light to whittle away discolored scar tissue.  The cost starts at $250 and varies depending on the size and severity of the scar, but it's a relatively inexpensive way to erase a grisly blemish.

Dr. Alster is a dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatology.  Laser Surgery, in Washington D.C.