A wound is a break in the skin, commonly caused by a cut or a burn. After a wound is inflicted, skin cells and connective tissue cells (known as fibroblasts) multiply to refill the opening in the skin. This can often leave a scar. Although scars are not necessarily painful, from a cosmetic point of view, they can be unsightly and lead to feelings of self-consciousness and low self-worth, particularly if scars are facial (e.g., acne scars). The more blood vessels that accumulate in a scar, the denser, darker, and therefore more visible it is.
Herbs have been valued for thousands of years for their ability to heal wounds and reduce scarring, and many of the most effective ones are ingredients in commercial scar-reducing creams and products. Keep reading to discover which herbs have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties that can reduce the intensity of scarring during and after wound healing.
1. Aloe (Aloe vera)
Aloe is extracted from the leaves of Aloe vera; it's full of vitamins A, B, C, and E, which all promote healthy skin healing, but the most valuable of these is vitamin E. Vitamin E contains antioxidants that neutralize free radical activity and aid skin repair. Aloe's high quantities of vitamin E mean the extract is a key ingredient in commercially-sold skin products and scar-reducing creams.
2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender, especially in the form of essential oil, is an effective scar-reducing herb due to its antiseptic healing properties. Lavender is antibacterial and can be topically applied to stimulate healthy skin repair.
3. Tea Tree (Melaleuca spp.)
Tea tree oil can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis, as well as reducing scarring from wounds, though it should not be used to treat burns. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory functions to minimize scar density, and it can be applied directly to the skin, as it does not irritate the mucous membranes. For this reason, tea tree is the best option for facial scarring, including acne markings.
4. Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis)
Marsh mallow, the traditional ingredient in the fluffy dessert, also has medicinal properties. The leaves and flowers are crushed and applied topically to reduce scarring in wounds derived from burns, sores, and ulcers. The herb reduces irritation and has anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, a compound used particularly post-surgery to minimize swelling, scarring, bruising, and healing time. Bromelain is often extracted from the fruit, but its effects can nonetheless be enjoyed by simply consuming pineapple, particularly when pineapple is it is consumed in conjunction with turmeric, an herb that has been found to boost the function of bromelain.
6. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Many scars occur when a wound becomes infected; echinacea can be consumed to protect against infection during the healing process. However, this herb should not be consumed by those with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Although medicinal herbs can be consumed orally while a wound is still open, before applying any herbs topically to the skin, it is advisable to wait until the wound has closed and new skin has formed. Herbs have long been celebrated for their skin-healing properties and are a reliable go-to for eliminating the blemishes, self-consciousness, and confidence issues that scarring can cause.