Both reconstructive surgery and home remedies help combat scarring and disfigurement in burn patients.

Scarring is a major source of morbidity in patients with burns. Burn scars cause both functional and cosmetic problems.

Besides being disfiguring, burn scars also cause pain, burning, itching, decreased function and reduced range of motion.

Effective reconstructive surgery is, thus, of paramount importance to the patient’s quality of life. The long-term care seeks to optimise the functional and aesthetic outcome.

Types of burns

The severity and type of scarring depends on the degree of burn. Several factors including the person’s age, size and depth of the burn determine severity. Generally, burns are categorised by their depth in degrees from one to three.

First degree burns cause minimal damage and affect only the epidermis or the surface layer. It causes pain, redness and swelling. With proper treatment, it is possible to prevent scars. In such cases, flush or soak the wound and cover it with a sterile non-adhesive bandage to protect it from friction or pressure.

A second degree burn affects the outer layer (epidermis) and the underlying layer (dermis) and causes redness, pain, swelling and blisters. These also affect sweat glands and hair follicles. A moist sterile bandage should be placed over the wound. Do not apply cold water, compresses or ointment and make sure the burn area stays clean.

A third degree burn affects the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis causing either charring or a translucent white colour, with coagulated vessels visible just below the skin surface. These burns are so deep that they damage the skin tissue and often leave the skin feeling numb. Treat third degree burns like second degree while getting the person to a medical professional as quickly as possible.

Home remedies for burns, especially from boiling water and oil, need to be administered quickly. Honey is commonly used for burns. Covering the burns with honey helps reduce scarring.

Another remedy often used for first degree burns is diluted vinegar. Cover the injured area with a clean cloth soaked in diluted vinegar. It is usually painless but, if it starts to pain, change the bandage.

Treatment

For a minor burn, hold the area under cool running water as the first step of treatment. In case of blistering, the cool water will take away the pain. Cover the area with a clean and sterile cloth. Do not apply any ointments, butter or oil.

A good home remedy to remove scars is to gently massage the area with almond oil. A twice a day massage will help reduce the scar.

Another method is to use fenugreek seeds. Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight. The next morning, grind the seeds into a fine paste and apply gently on the mark and leave it on. Once the paste dries off, wash it off with water. Apply this paste regularly to remove the scars.

Fresh lemon or tomato juice is also very effective. Lemon juice has acidic properties that naturally lighten the scars. Freshly squeezed tomato juice is another natural bleaching agent.

First wash the burn area in cool water. Place a damp washcloth on the burn mark. Keep some fresh lemon juice ready. Moisten another washcloth with the lemon juice and dab gently on the mark. This will help cleanse the skin and lighten the scar. Once this is done, apply fresh tomato juice on the mark. Repeat twice a day to get rid of the mark in a few days.

Colloidal silver is another healing agent with antiseptic properties. It also helps damaged tissue regenerate. Major hospital burn units use colloidal silver bandages and ointments. Severe burns often heal with little or no scarring.