How do I prevent a cigarette burn from leaving a scar?
August 15, 2009 11:10 AM   Subscribe

How do I prevent a cigarette burn from leaving a scar?

As I maneuvered through a crowded beer garden last night, some gesticulating smoker put his cigarette out on my arm. I didn't worry too much about it yesterday evening, but this morning it does look like the spot might end up scarring.

Any day-after advice for preventing the burn from leaving too noticeable a scar?
posted by washburn to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For some reason, I often burn the top of my right hand by accidentally contacting the metal racks in the oven. For me, a light burn takes a lot longer than a cut for the scar to go away, but it does eventually heal. "Put out his cigarette on my arm" sounds more serious than a light burn, though.

I've also used scar cream with some success but webmd says it's all in my mind. They also say, ask your doc about treatment such as prescription corticosteroid creams, etc.

(Also, next time run cold water on the burn for a couple of minutes as soon as possible).
posted by txvtchick at 11:27 AM on August 15, 2009

aloe vera gel
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:28 AM on August 15, 2009

Best answer: I would highly recommend vitamin E oil--you can use either gelcaps (just pop them, and apply the nourishing oil within), or you may be able to find little bottles of the stuff. You should be able to find this in the vitamin aisle of your drugstore--no need to go to some weird homeopathic place or what have you.

I used to do tricks a lot on rollerblades (because I am awesome) and would often get ghastly road rash on my arms and legs, but with judicious application of the vitamin E, no scars.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2009

I swear by vitamin e gel caps. I've an inch long scar under my left eye that I got when a softball clocked me in the eye. It was extra gruesome and involved getting my face glued back together. I used the vitamin e and most people never even notice the scar unless I've been in the sun.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2009

Kelo-cote absolutely rocks. I had abdominal surgery about a year and a half ago, and it literally looks like a couple of scratches (even my surgeon was pretty impressed). I found it way cheaper on Ebay (it was the real stuff).

I've since used it on other injuries (I inadvertently got in the middle of a fight between two of my dogs), and it made a big difference on that scrape, too.
posted by dancinglamb at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2009

Some dude intentionally stubbed a rather fat cigar into my shoulder at a party a few summers ago. I just kept the area clean, moisturized, and soaked with broken Vitamin E gelcaps. No scar at all. This may work less well with the hot (versus ashed) tip of a cigarette, but it's worth a shot.

I also knocked him the fuck out, which helped with the mental irritation.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:13 PM on August 15, 2009

A sloppy drunk Courtney Love falling in and out of consciousness and her halter top burned me with her cigarette at a rock show in 1995; No physical scar remains.
posted by applemeat at 12:40 PM on August 15, 2009 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Vitamin E and cocoa butter seem to be the most common "home remedy" types of things to use, and it's best to use them while you're still healing. Try your best to keep it moist (with something like Neosporin or vit. E I would guess) as long as you can, because it's the scabbing part that you want to delay if you can, as that's where the scarring is most likely to come in (especially picking at the scab and such).
posted by so_gracefully at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I've now invested $5 in some vitamin E caps. So, we'll see how that goes.
posted by washburn at 1:25 PM on August 15, 2009

seconding cocoa butter. i had a nasty appendectomy, and to prevent having a 4.5 inch purple line across my belly, my doctor recommended that i liberally apply cocoa butter once the scab had gone away.
posted by chicago2penn at 1:41 PM on August 15, 2009

I'm a believer in/user of aloe vera gel. It has both astringent and healing qualities.
posted by Xurando at 1:54 PM on August 15, 2009

Keep it out of the sun. No sunlight for a whole year. Use zinc oxide as a sun screen if it's not someplace you can cover easily with clothes. Keeping sunlight off it for a year will help immensely.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:26 PM on August 15, 2009

there's no evidence that vitamin E is helpful, as far as i can tell. the opposite may be true, actually. nobody who automatically uses vitamin E on a wound has any idea how long the same wound would have taken to heal had they not used anything.
posted by klanawa at 2:38 PM on August 15, 2009

The biggest contributor to a wound scar is the formation of a dry scab. Letting this form will almost guarantee a scar. There is a wet bandage product called Second Skin that is applied over the burn and keeps the wound moist. They are worn for about a week or two, and give a good chance for no scar. Usually available at Walgreens, etc.

There is also a prescription cream with silver sulfadiazine that is amazing on burns. It forms its own crust over the wound, so no scab forms. Its great stuff.

I base this recommendation on 2nd degree burns over half my arm a few years ago. There is no trace of scarring today.
posted by buzzv at 3:13 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Chipping in here late to add my voice to those favouring Vitamin E gelcaps.
posted by essexjan at 3:54 PM on August 15, 2009

Tamanu oil from From Nature with Love. Stinky as hell, but highly effective at healing wounds without scars.
posted by Issithe at 4:53 PM on August 15, 2009

honey is good as well.
posted by elle.jeezy at 5:41 PM on August 15, 2009

buzzy has it: don't let it scab! Vitamin E, aloe vera, etc are all placebos with no proven benefit.

1) This will hurt: scrub ASAP gently but thoroughly to remove damaged tissue. You can just use a dish scourer -- preferably a new, sterile one (otherwise just microwave it first to disinfect).

2) Clean it and keep it clean. Soapy water should be sufficient -- polysporin cream doesn't hurt.

3) Cover it with a dressing (a Band-Aid should be big enough for a cigarette burn). Change the dressing regularly.

It will take at least two weeks for the burn to heal. It will appear to get worse, like a seeping, wet wound. But this is what happens anyway underneath the scab -- just have faith that the flesh will grow back as it should and keep changing the dressing. You'll eventually see the wound close with new skin, free of scarring.
posted by randomstriker at 8:19 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Neosporin works for me.
posted by gjc at 6:52 AM on August 16, 2009

Response by poster: Kept the burn clean, moist (using the gel from vitamin E caps), and out of the sun for two or three weeks. It ended up healing very nicely, so that there is almost no evidence of the burn, aside from a very slight discoloration.
posted by washburn at 8:32 PM on January 2, 2010

« Older French indie pop/electro?   |   Recommendations for watch repair in Houston? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.