An Unlikely Hero In The Fight Against Scars

“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing” – Author Linda Hogan, “Woman Who Watches Over The World“.

There are fewer and fewer problems that modern medicine can’t solve. From disease to trauma, hospitals and clinics are armed with an arsenal of technology, skills, and discoveries to face the problem head-on. However, even when a procedure or treatment is successful, scars can often remain behind-a glaring reminder of the close calls and accidents. But a new treatment is on the horizon, one that shows promise in eliminating most scars once and for all. And believe it or not, this isn’t a technology developed in a lab, but an amazing piece of nature found beneath the sea.

Scars are formed using the same protein as the rest of your skin, but when it regrows to cover a wound, it does so in a different pattern. Untouched skin is formed of collagen fibers that form a random weave pattern-like a basket. But when covering a damaged area, the collagen fibers grow in the same direction-usually without hair follicles or sweat glands and generally weaker than surrounding skin.

So how do we prevent skin from growing back with the inferior pattern? The answer may be found in goop secreted by mussels. Yes, you read that correctly. Goop secreted by mussels and mixed with a dab of a skin protein called decorin.

It’s not the first time “mussel goop” has found its way into hospitals. Since 2015, hospitals have used the secretions as a bio-glue to seal wounds-particularly due to its ability to maintain adhesion in wet conditions. Now, thanks to a team in South Korea, the mussel glue may be able to both hold wounds together and completely heal the scar, even allowing hair growth and sweat glands to form again.

So far, the combination of decorin and mussel secretion has only been tested on rats, but after positive results, researchers hope the mixture will soon be used on humans.

According to results published in New Scientist, “by day 11, 99 per cent of the wound was closed in the treated rats compared with 78 per cent in the control group. By day 28, treated rats had fully recovered and had virtually no visible scarring. In comparison, control rats had thick, purple scars.”

“If this can be replicated in humans, it might be the next big thing for scar therapy,” says Allison Cowin at the University of South Australia.

As nurses, you’ll help treat patients for any number of medical issues and traumas. You’ll have patients facing surgeries, recovering from accidents, or burns, or cesarean births, and every single one of them (whether they ask or not) will be wondering about the scar. Hopefully in the very near future, you’ll be able to smile and respond to those worries with “what scar?”

For more information on pursuing a career in the exciting field of nursing, contact Unitek College here for information on our many programs, courses, and opportunities.