• Expert-Marie-Laure Benicourt Lemoine - Physiotherapist
    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.

    Be proactive about your treatment, be consistent and do the exercises while also respecting the fragility of your skin. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.

Pain due to healing process

How quickly your damaged skin repairs itself depends on the seriousness of the wound, your age, general health and lifestyle. During the healing process, you may well experience disagreeable or even painful sensations that are uncomfortable. They can have  an aesthetic impact. These symptoms are a natural part of healing and vary depending on the different stages of the process. But for the scar to be as discrete as possible, it needs to be looked after correctly with adapted repairing care.

Some of the sensations you might feel as your wound heals: 

  • Pain and sensitivity: during the first days since the lesion is inflamed – and that hurts
  • Irritation and itching: once the reconstruction process has begun and a scab forms – it’s unpleasant but a positive sign
  • Itching and tightness: when the scab falls off and new skin appears – this is completely normal!

Four practical tips for optimised healing

The key to skin repair is achieving the finest, least sensitive and visible scar possible. Scarring quality depends on different factors including your skin type, health and if you smoke. The way you look after your damaged skin will also play a key role in the healing process. Here are some tips for optimised healing.

Clean the skin lesion

1. Clean the fragile area with water and soapor saline solution, disinfect if necessary.

Apply a healing cream

2. Apply healing cream every day, once the wound has dried and the skin has come together.

Don’t scratch the scab

3. Don’t scratch the scab, otherwise the skin’s repair process will have to start all over again. As well as the risk of infection, you’ll increase the likelihood of scarring. If the desire to scratch becomes too much, apply an icepack or gently tap a damp wash glove to soothe the skin. Make sure you don’t create any friction though.

Protect the scar from the sun

4. Avoid exposing the area to the sun for 12 -18 months in line with advice from your healthcare professional. For areas naturally exposed to the sun, it’s recommended to apply scar healing cream with high sun protection to avoid the risk of hyperpigmentation. Alternatively, you could keep a bandage on. For small children, an anti UV tee-shirt is also an option. Every time you go in the water, remember to reapply high-factor sun protection afterwards.

  • expert-pharmacist-julien dupuy
    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.

    It’s not only at the beach in the summer that your skin is exposed to the sun. Also remember to protect yourself in winter in the mountains or out and about in the city in spring or early summer.

    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.

Drink a lot of water and moisturise your skin with a soothing repairing cream.

Smoking slows the healing process – try to stop or limit the number of cigarettes.

Adopt a balanced diet and avoid drinking alcohol. You could consult a dietician for advice on food supplements to take before or after your procedure. Don’t start a diet without consulting a healthcare professional first, particularly after giving birth, as it’s important to avoid deficiencies to optimise the healing process – which requires proteins, vitamin B5, C and A, omega 3 and 6.

Adapt the way you dress, opting for comfortable clothes with no seams and wireless underwear. Support stockings may be recommended especially after giving birth.

Physical exercise isn’t forbidden but should be gentle, involving no more than moderate effort. Don’t jeopardise the healing process and risk reopening the wound. Remember to rest and respect the 15-21 days it takes for the skin to repair itself. Don’t ask too much of your skin during this period. 

If you have questions, get in touch with an appropriate healthcare professional - as often as necessary. If you feel self-conscious about your scar or overwhelmed after giving birth (postpartum depression occurs after 10% of births), ask for psychological help. This is a common phenomenon, so make sure you get the support you need.

  • Expert-Marie-Laure Benicourt Lemoine - Physiotherapist
    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.

    Wound healing… if you tug too soon it doesn’t work and the skin healing process will be even longer!

    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.

Bandage on weakened skin

Following surgery, you often have to wear a bandage or dressing for a while. Healthcare professionals will choose the most appropriate one based on the needs of your skin and wound*. However, for more minor injuries resulting in a superficial lesion, it’s usually better to leave them open to the air to encourage a scab to form. There is no a hard-and-fast rule and it’s important to take into account the seriousness of the skin damage and where it is on the body. Always ask for advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

  • expert-pharmacist-julien dupuy
    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.

    Never minimise the seriousness, monitor any changes in the scar and don’t hesitate to visit your local pharmacy for advice.

    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.

Why massage your scar? And how?

Massaging your scar is recommended to minimise its appearance. Physiotherapists often take care of post-surgery scarring, as well as scars that are traumatological (following a fracture, for example) or rheumatological (particularly with prostheses). Just like midwives, they can also look at scarring following a caesarean or focus on perineal and abdominal re-education.  

 

Massaging helps reabsorb the scar tissue, avoid adhesion and, if the lesion is on a joint, recover mobility. When the skin repairs itself, it makes replacement cutaneous cells. But this all-new skin can stick to muscles, bones, tendons and neighbouring tissues. Referred to as ‘adhesions’, this occurs deep in the skin and has an impact on the suppleness of the repaired skin.

How do you massage your scar? Here’s some advice from Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, physiotherapist, and Camille Tallet, midwife.

Regular handwashing

First of all, wash and dry your hands carefully.

Applying a repairing cream

Apply healing cream to your scar to facilitate the massage.

Scar massage step 1

Make the skin more supple by gently pressing.

Scar massage step 2

Follow the ‘palpate and roll’ method:

  • Knead: use the index and second finger from one hand to make small movements, first lengthways then laterally on and around the scar.
  • Lift: gently pull up the scarred skin in different places to reduce adhesion.
  • Stretch: place your fingers at different parts of the scar and gently tug. Don’t rub, instead gently move the skin in every direction, gradually increasing the pressure. 

5minutes to massage your scar everyday

Massage your scar for 5 minutes twice a day, but only when the lesion has fully closed – this is usually 2-3 weeks after surgery. Keep massaging the scar for the period of time indicated by your healthcare professional.

  • Expert- Thomas Cruchaudet- nurse
    Thomas Cruchaudet, Nurse.

    Massaging a scar for 5 minutes isn’t much. But it’s hugely beneficial for the healing process – and an investment in the future!

    Thomas Cruchaudet, Nurse.

Episiotomy scars

Massaging an episiotomy scar is very different from massaging a caesarean or post-surgery scar. Camille Tallet, midwife, explains that you need to ‘place your thumb inside the vulva and the index finger outside. Move your thumb leaving your index finger where it is. Then move the index finger, leaving the thumb where it is. Complete this movement from right to left and also up and down.’

Don’t hesitate to ask your midwife or physiotherapist to accompany you.

Post-partum healing

If the healing process following a caesarean or episiotomy is painful, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. Specialist apparatus – like LPG medical, radiofrequency or photo-biomodulation – can be used under medical supervision to help the skin repair itself.

  •  C.Tallet midwife
    Camille Tallet, Midwife.

    Post-partum healing should never be painful, always get professional advice to quickly relieve any pain.

    Camille Tallet, Midwife.

  • Expert- Thomas Cruchaudet- nurse
    Thomas Cruchaudet, Nurse.

    Hygiene is essential. You need to wash the wound regularly and ensure your hands are clear before touching it. Avoid scratching and never pull off the scab as it’s essential for protecting the lesion. Without it, the risk of infection increases.

    Thomas Cruchaudet, Nurse.
  • Expert-Marie-Laure Benicourt Lemoine - Physiotherapist
    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.

    If the scar remains red and swollen or starts to ooze, don’t touch it. Take your temperature. These are perhaps the first signs of infection, so consult a doctor as soon as possible.

    Marie-Laure Benicourt-Lemoine, Physiotherapist.
  • expert-pharmacist-julien dupuy
    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.

    Monitor any changes in the colour of your skin lesion. If it is pink, this is completely normal. But if you notice any yellow or green, there may be an infection. Opt for colourless cleansing products to see any colour changes more easily. If in doubt, consult a healthcare professional.

    Julien Dupuy, Pharmacist.