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The Effects of Facial Scarring on Mental Health

Article - Mar 2024 ScarSilThe physical effects of scarring, such as pain, itching and general discomfort, are obvious but scars can also have numerous emotional and psychological impacts.

When injuries that leave scars behind are sustained to the face, the severity of these impacts increases as this area of the body is so important to our self-image and is always visible to others.

The results of the world's largest study yet undertaken focusing on the link between facial scarring and mental health have recently been published in BJPsychOpen, the highly-respected online edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry. Carried out at Swansea University by a team of researchers from The Scar Free Foundation, the study concluded that people with facial scars are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the general population.

The study, referred to as AFFECT (Assessing the burden of facial scarring and associated mental health conditions to identify patients at greatest risk), was co-funded by The Scar Free Foundation and Health & Care Research Wales. Using healthcare data from the SAIL anonymised databank, the research involved looking at the medical records of more than 170,000 people with facial scars. 

Each record was matched to the record of a person who does not have facial scars; records were paired by patient age, gender and socio-economic status. Comparing these paired records allowed the research team, which was led by Professor Iain Whitaker, to identify how many people either with or without facial scarring had been treated by a GP for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. As previously mentioned, these conditions were found to occur more often among people with facial scarring.

The study also identified three key factors that have an influence on how often these common mental health problems occur in people who have sustained facial scars. 

  • The prevalence of depression and anxiety is highest among individuals whose scarring is the result of traumatic injuries including burns, assault and self-harm
  • The group of people least likely to experience problems with their mental health related to facial scarring are those whose scars result from congenital conditions 
  • Three further groups were identified as being at a higher risk of suffering from anxiety and depression: women, people who are experiencing deprivation and those who have an existing history of poor mental health
ScarSil 15ml tube with box front view
Applying ScarSil® silicone scar gel to the face

ScarSil® silicone gel for facial scarring

Silicone gel has long been recognised as one of the most effective ways to treat the physical (and, by extension, the psychological) effects of problem scarring. ScarSil®, a topical silicone gel product from Medigarments Ltd, is especially effective for use on facial scars.

Clinical trials have proven that topical silicone gel is as effective as traditional silicone gel sheeting such as the Scar Fx® silicone sheet gel from Medigarments Ltd, in the treatment of problem scarring. It's easier to apply and perfect for use on children, facial scarring and moving parts of the body. Important: ScarSil® should only be used once the wound has closed fully and sutures, if present, have been removed. Once the gel has dried completely, facial cosmetics and/or sun protection can then be applied.

ScarSil silicone scar gel being squeezed onto a finger
ScarSil® silicone scar gel with easy fingertip application

Where can I buy ScarSil®?

ScarSil® is available to purchase directly from Medigarments Ltd in tubes of either 15ml or 30ml and is also available on the FP10 drug tariff. For more information about the product, along with our complete collection of silicone gel products, please browse our website. A more detailed look at ScarSil® can be found in a recent edition of our blog.

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ScarSil® silicone gel by Medigarments Ltd. ScarSil® and Scar Fx® are the registered trademarks of Medigarments Ltd.

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