Burn Scar Massage

Whether caused by excessive heat, electricity or corrosive chemicals, severe burns can cause enormous physical and emotional pain. Aside from the patient’s experience, treating and rehabilitating tissue that has suffered a third-degree burn is one of the toughest challenges the medical community faces. Although some recoil at the thought of having their burns touched and many people fear touching burned skin, research has consistently shown that massage therapy plays a valuable therapeutic role in burn rehabilitation.

Combined with traditional medical treatment, burn scar massage therapy is an effective means to controlling the development of scar tissue and helping burn victims to heal more quickly with full range of motion and less itching and pain.  When a burn occurs, the injury may take months to fully reveal itself in scarring and loss of mobility.  Burned skin needs special care and burn scar massage therapy is a highly-effective tool for promoting health, healing and skin rejuvenation.  Soothing and restorative, this type of massage helps to keep burned skin soft and supple as it heals and helps burn victims to enjoy better functioning in their daily lives during recovery.  

Once a burn scar has matured past the threat of shearing, or pulling away from healthy tissue, many doctors advise their patients to undergo burn scar massage therapy as a part of their recovery treatment plan.  Performed at least once a day during the critical healing period, burn scar therapy combines gentle massage strokes, pressure, skin moisturizers and heat.  The result is more flexible skin, less pain and itching and less-noticeable scarring.

Research Findings

In a separate study published in the March issue of the journal Burns, 146 burn patients with scars were randomly divided into two groups. All patients received standard rehabilitation therapy for hypertrophic scars – known as raised scars that are typically red, thick and may be itchy or painful—and 76 patients received additional burn scar rehabilitation massage therapy. Both before and after the treatment, researchers assessed the scar characteristics for thickness, melanin, erythema, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), sebum, and elasticity.

While both groups showed improvement, the massage group showed a significant decrease in scar thickness, melanin, erythema, and TEWL. There was a significant intergroup difference in skin elasticity with the massage group showing substantial improvement.

Researchers concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy is effective in improving pain, itching, and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn.

(Choa YS, Jeona JH, Hongb A, et. al. The effect of burn rehabilitation massage therapy on hypertrophic scar after burn: A randomized controlled trial. Burns, 2014; 10.1016)
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