PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Cuts and scrapes don't have to mark you for life.
Researchers say work on an alternative way to get rid of scars is showing promising results, and it is a lot less painful than the current method.
A scar is an abnormally thickened area after an injury. They can be painful, itchy, and to some people, unsightly.
"So most people would like the scar to be flatter, less painful, and also, less darker colored. More of their regular skin color," said Dr. Brian Horvath, of Horvath Dermatology.
Currently, to reduce the appearance of thick, raised scars, doctors can inject a steroid into the area.
"The cortisone we inject is a really big crystal; it takes a larger needle than normal to inject it. It hurts when it's pressed in. And also, the side effects can lead to thinning of the skin," says Dr. Horvath.
So the scar may shrink in half, but you could also have a divot or depression in the skin in the area of the injection.
A study in the British Journal of Dermatology points to a new drug, so far studied only in mice, as an alternative.
"There's a new plant-based injection called baicalein. It inhibits the pathway that leads to scars," Dr. Horvath says. "This is only being done in animals to date though. It's not yet available for humans."
It comes from an herb called skullcaps. In mice that had their scars injected with baicalein, cells called fibroblasts that form scars were less active.
Human studies are about to start.
It isn't topical," says Dr. Horvath. "It would be nice if we had an actual cream version of this. It's still an injection. But it seems to be a less painful injection than what we're currently using."
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