Burn Scars: Beyond the Surface

The result of scars is not simply skin deep; they tell inspiring stories of survival, resilience, and endurance. When it comes to burn scars, the narrative can run even deeper.

Burn trauma has been reported as the second most common cause of trauma-related deaths after vehicular accidents in both the developing and developed world. It has been suggested that an extensive burn is the most devastating injury a person can sustain and yet hope to survive.¹

Although the mortality rate from burns has diminished over the last several decades, the reality for burn victim-survivors is that they are not guaranteed to return to normal, everyday life. Life for many burn victims becomes a journey of daily challenges and restrictions, physical and emotional pain, surgeries and treatments, having to endure the scrutiny of stares and questions, and trauma.

Amidst these challenges, the healing process can transform not only the physical scarring but the burn survivors themselves. Courage can be developed from overcoming the unimaginable and from finding the strength to adapt to survive in one’s new life.

For some, burn scars might heal dramatically well, becoming nothing more than symbols of victory and badges of honour. Reminders of battles fought and won.

For others, the remnants of burn scars, no matter how subtle, can still cause distress. Burn scarring can be extremely dry, tight, itchy, and sensitive. Not only can they hinder physical functioning and normal daily activities, restricting movements and interfering with sleep, but they can also have a detrimental impact on emotional functioning as well.

More than just dealing with these frustrating physical afflictions on the body, burn scars can hold much power over mood, social interactions, self-image, self-worth, and state of mind.

The Psychological Impact of Scarring

The impact of an injury can go beyond surface level. Research indicates that survival is not only determined by physiological conditions, but one’s mindset can also have the power to help facilitate successful healing and recovery.²

Even if they have healed relatively well and do not directly impact physical function, burn scars can still cause emotional pain or discomfort. 

It has been reported that problems in the mental area can be more troublesome than physical problems, with depression and post-traumatic stress disorders being a common response for burn victim-survivors.³ Even just the sight of burn scarring may trigger dark memories and emotions.

Those with burn scars may grapple with feelings like resentment, frustration, self-consciousness, shame, anxiety and despair.

Their changed appearance can elicit diminished self-esteem, which may translate into various mental disorders such as body dysmorphia and depressive disorders, impacting behaviour, social interactions, interpersonal relationships, and their ability to function. They may even face judgment and discrimination from others, causing further risk to their psychological well-being and function in society.

So, how can this be addressed?

Apart from various psychological therapies, which should be considered by all burn victim survivors, treatments that address the scarring physically can also be utilised to support one’s psychological recovery. Although acceptance, body positivity and self-love are goals that should be strived for, if there is a means to aid the minimising of the appearance and the physical discomfort and limitations of the scarring itself, this treatment option should not be withheld.

There are various kinds of scar therapies; however, due to the trauma burn victims may carry, selecting the right treatment option should be carefully considered.

The Gentle, Non-Invasive Approach

For many burn victims, the idea of further aggravation to the burn site can be distressing. Harsh chemicals and anything abrasive to the skin can also be uncomfortable and sometimes very painful for sensitive and delicate scarring.

Topical silicone gel is a non-invasive treatment option and is particularly ideal for burn scarring. It can be used on various skin types, including tender and fragile skin, common in burn scars. This type of scar therapy takes a gentle approach to help reduce the size, density, itchiness, and discolouration of scars. It is designed to be painless, soothing, and easy to apply from the comfort of your home, making it a suitable option for burn victims concerned about experiencing further discomfort.

Additionally, silicone gel treatments seem to remain the first point of clinical recommendation in scar management and have been used in scar therapy for over 30 years.⁴

One type of silicone gel treatment option available in Australia is the Rystora® Scar Therapy Product range. Rystora® can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with other therapies following the recent formation of burn scarring and mature burn scarring.

Indications of Rystora’s Scar Therapy Products for Burn Scarring:

As we’ve discussed, burn scarring can be extremely sensitive. Being made purely with medical-grade silicone without harsh chemicals or fragrances, Rystora’s Scar Therapy Products can alleviate concerns of discomfort and further damage to the skin as they are designed to be non-toxic, non-staining, and non-corroding on the skin and other materials. 

Sensitive and delicate scarring may also require protection against bumps and scrapes. Rystora’s silicone products act as a barrier that can help protect the skin against further damage, irritation and even bacteria while still allowing the scarred area to breathe.

Medical-grade silicone is designed to keep moisture against the skin, helping to create a hydrated environment ideal for dry and irritated burn scarring. 

To help avoid further stiffness and tension that burn scarring may already frustratingly produce, Rystora’s silicone products are thin, self-adhesive, flexible, breathable, and non-restrictive. Their lightweight design can be worn inconspicuously and comfortably under clothing, promoting great functionality and mobility without impeding daily activities.

The soothing effects of silicone gel can help reduce itching and act as a barrier to help prevent the ability to scratch and aggravate the scar. This is especially important as consistent scratching of scarring can cause further damage, inflammation, and discomfort, creating more emotional distress.

The hydrophobic characteristic of Rystora’s silicone products can reduce vaporisation, helping to preserve the humidity required to maintain a hydrated environment for scar remodelling. The nourishment from the moisture helps to promote the regrowth of epithelium (healthy cells or tissue) while reducing the inflammatory response and capillary activity responsible for overactive scar cell growth. 

The silicone can also create an occluded environment, which may provide a gentle amount of compression to the area, helping to flatten any raised areas and soften the scar over time.

With consistent use, silicone gel can help soften, flatten, and reduce the scarring’s redness and hyperpigmentation to improve its overall appearance and feeling.

How Rystora Can Effect the Impact of Burn Scarring Beyond the Surface

Although silicone gel treatments do not treat emotional scars and psychological problems, their application can aid a multitude of physiological issues associated with burn scarring, which can have a consequential effect on some of the emotional struggles these physical challenges commonly produce. 

By helping to reduce the physical discomfort of burn scarring and the hindrances to everyday function, feelings like bitterness, frustration, and sorrow may transform into hope, peace, and optimism. Similarly, by helping to improve the appearance of scars, the result could also be an improved frame of mind which can be used to rebuild self-worth and social functioning. 

All these effects can positively impact one’s quality of life, interpersonal relationships, and, ultimately, their psychological well-being. 

To learn more about Rystora’s Scar Therapy Products and how they work, please get in touch with us directly or click on the link here.


¹ Goel, A. and Shrivastava, P. (2010). Post-burn scars and scar contractures. Indian journal of plastic surgery : official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India, [online] 43(Suppl), pp.S63-71. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-0358.70724.

² Harvey, A.R. (2023). Injury, illness, and emotion: A review of the motivational continuum from trauma through recovery from an ecological perspective. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health, 27, p.100586. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100586.

³ Van Loey, N.E.E. and Van Son, M.J.M. (2003). Psychopathology and Psychological Problems in Patients with Burn Scars. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 4(4), pp.245–272. doi:https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200304040-00004.

Bleasdale, B., Finnegan, S., Murray, K., Kelly, S. and Percival, S.L. (2015). The Use of Silicone Adhesives for Scar Reduction. Advances in Wound Care, 4(7), pp.422–430.doi:https://doi.org/10.1089/wound.2015.0625. Accessed 25 Oct. 2019.

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