Massage can be started once your wounds are healed and no longer require dressings or bandages. Healed burn wounds and donor sites tend to be dry, tight and hard. This can limit movement, particularly if the area is close to a joint. Massaging the healed area with moisturising cream will help keep it soft and supple and will also help prevent itching. It is a very important part of your after-care as scars and newly healed skin may be much drier than your non-burnt skin. This is because oil and sweat glands are often damaged by burns. It is recommended you massage all healed areas at least twice a day, up to 5 times a day (for at least 5-15 minutes, depending on the size of the area). The more massage you do the better, so try to spend as long as possible on it.
Moisturising creams – no particular moisturising cream has been proven to be better than another; the effectiveness is all down to massage technique and frequency of application. It is best to choose a cream that suits your skin type. Do not use paraffin and lanolin/mineral oil-based products as these tend to clog the pores and do not absorb into the deeper layers of the skin.
to moisturise dry scar tissue where the skin is unable to produce its own natural oils
to help (along with stretching exercises) to break up a band of scar tissue that may cause tightness or restricted movement
to help to flatten hypertrophic (raised or lumpy) scars
to reduce pain sensitivity and itching
Using your chosen moisturising cream, apply a firm pressure with your fingers and massage the scar in small, circular motions, hard enough so that your skin turns white or lightens (blanches). Avoid any friction or rubbing to the skin. You should pay particular attention to areas where the scar is raised, or crosses a joint. If your skin breaks, or the wound re-opens, avoid massaging that area until it heals. Continue to massage all other healed areas.
It is advisable to massage skin grafts for at least 2 years to keep the graft soft, supple and well moisturised. Massage to donor sites and non-grafted areas can usually be discontinued before 2 years. The Burn Therapist will give specific advice on your scar massage regime. If your scar continues to remain raised, or is causing other problems, your Burns Service therapist may discuss other treatments to help. You may massage your scars yourself, ask a friend or family member to help with hard to reach areas or look for a massage therapist in your local area. When choosing a massage therapist, it is advisable to check that the practitioner has training and experience in burn scar massage.