Breaking up scar tissue
June 8, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

What to do about scar tissue in a finger?

About a month ago I cut myself on the top of my index finger, between the first and second knuckles (e.g., on the dorsal side of my proximal phalanx). The cut was very deep, but I was able to get the bleeding under control quickly and it healed on its own. No stitches.

Since then, I've developed a pea-sized area of hard scar tissue under the surface of the skin, and have moderate pain when using my fingers. Its moderately annoying, but doesn't (yet) impede movement. Searching AskMe and elsewhere about scar tissue points to surgery or deep tissue massage for larger muscles or joints, but I haven't found anything particular to small joints. I'd rather not see a specialist if there is something I can do on my own. What are my options? Do you have any suggestions for specific ways to get rid of the scar tissue (if that is indeed what it is)?
posted by googly to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
The typical Mefite advice: See a doctor! This is your hand we're talking about.

That being said, scars tend to be toughest between two weeks and two months after injury, and soften from that point on. If you see a doctor, he or she will probably give you some stretching or massage exercises for it. S/he will also know whether to advise surgery to release the tendon from growing scar tissue.
posted by skyl1n3 at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: I do have a doctor's appointment, but its a month and a half away, and I wonder if there's anything I can do in the interim.
posted by googly at 11:38 AM on June 8, 2010

There will be a bulge of scar tissue for several months, perhaps up to a year. But eventually it'll go away and all you'll be left with is a surface blemish that becomes barely noticeable.

Since it isn't affecting your use of your fingers (minor pain is to be expected at this point), I would just leave it.
posted by randomstriker at 12:36 PM on June 8, 2010

Vitamin E oil is excellent for scars, with massage and stretching.
It can really help.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2010

My daughter had two hand surgeries as an infant and has a fair amount of scarring. Her orthopedist suggested buying Vitamin E caplets, breaking them open, and spreading the oily stuff inside over the scars. We were more vigilant about this after the first surgery than after the second, and I think that the scars from the second surgery are more prominent, so perhaps it helped. We weren't able to reach her wounds until about a month after her surgery, so it's not too late for you to start.

She has one little hard nodule of scar tissue between two fingers. When we have our annual followup with her surgeon, he feels of it while those fingers move and comments that if the nodule becomes troublesome he can remove it.

So that's my experience with scar tissue in (very) small joints.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2010

IANAD, IANYD, etc, etc.

First the lecture. In the future (let's hope it never happens) if you get any kind of deep cut on any part of the body, immediately go to urgent care or the ER. Sutures would have helped prevent deep scarring and a quick review of what and how was cut can save a lot of later grief.

Now the answer. At this point there is little you can do about subsurface scarring. By all means, keep your doctor's appointment. There are things that s/he might want to do, but the most likely advice will be: If it is not affecting your life style and you are not in pain, ignore it and see if it reduces along the way. If you want to use the Vitamin E suggestion, go ahead. There is little or nothing that it can harm, and it might provide you with some help. This is usually suggested for surface scars, bit who knows, it might work down deep as well.
posted by Old Geezer at 4:06 PM on June 8, 2010

I had surgery on my finger about 5 years ago to remove a giant-celled tumor of the tendon sheath. My scar is largest where the doctor had to pull open my finger the most, because the tumor was wrapped around my joint. Sadly, the little lump of hard scar tissue is still there and doesn't seem to be shrinking, but it doesn't cause me any pain - yeah, you should definitely get that looked at. (How I found out I had a tumor in the first place was drawing my doctor's attention to a hard and painful-when-pressed-on pea-sized lump in my finger. But it was right in the "pad" of my finger.)
posted by IndigoRain at 5:31 PM on June 8, 2010

I received a finger injury and scar a long time ago which I wish I had tried to do something about as it causes pain when playing guitar now.
I have heard there is a treatment with silicone sheets but it has to be done soon.
posted by canoehead at 7:16 PM on June 8, 2010

About 25 years ago I got a pretty big flap wound to my intermediate phalanges that I didn't get stitches for (but should have, but couldn't). It did hurt for some time afterwards, but after a few months the pain completely abated. For many many years there was substantial scar tissue underneath--maybe as much as an extra cm in profile--but now it's mostly flattened out. So, do go see your doctor to make sure there isn't anything weird going on, but if they reassure you, then just stay reassured, and know that it'll probably diminish in due course.
posted by gubenuj at 9:12 PM on June 8, 2010

I broke 11 bones in my hand and was left with extremely gross looking fingers after a car accident. (My hand scraped the ground through an open window multiple times.)

The knuckle scars were really hideous (at least to me) so when I had hand surgery, I requested that the surgeon remove the visible scar tissue from my fingers. He did and aesthetically, my fingers look dramatically better (I think) than before -- and you can't tell from a distance that they look different.

I'd ask your doctor.
posted by melodykramer at 8:00 PM on June 14, 2010

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