Hi Sandra, Miss Three just had chicken pox and, although she's much better now, she has been left with a bit of scarring. Are there any natural remedies I can use to minimize the scar tissue?

It used to be common practice in traditional medicine to wrap wounds and bites in medicinal plants to speed the healing of the skin. Many traditional societies still do this today. A number of plants are "vulnerary" - this means they are able to enhance the body's natural ability to repair damaged skin.

When selecting a topical preparation to apply to chicken pox scarring, keep an eye out for the following medicinal ingredients that have proven ability to regenerate the skin.

St Johns Wort

St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a must for repairing injuries not only to the nerves but also to the skin. It was traditionally used on a wide range of wounds including ulcers, swellings and bruises. It has scientifically proven tissue-regenerating actions for the significant reduction of scars.

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• How to use it

It is best used as herb-infused oil. I prepare mine in certified organic olive oil. It is safe for both infants and young children, who will respond well to its soothing properties. Be careful not to apply therapeutic oils prior to sun exposure as this could accelerate burning.

Calendula

Another great plant for minimising scar tissue is Calendula (Calendula officinalis).

Calendula, sometimes referred to as Marigold, is a bright yellow-gold flowering herb whose blossoms are collected for medicinal use.

• How to use it

Clinically proven, it can be applied topically as a cream to stimulate production of collagen in wounds and surgical incisions. Calendula combines well with fresh chickweed and nettle extracts in a natural cream base. These medicinal plants have additional cooling effects on the skin, which is especially soothing in the hot phase of chicken pox.

Gotu kola

Perhaps lesser known, but no less effective is Gotu kola (Centella asiatica). Gotu kola is an ancient herb, used for centuries in parts of Asia to encourage wound healing. It contains active compounds called triterpenoids, which appear to strengthen the skin, and increase blood supply and antioxidant activity around a wound. Triterpenoids also act to minimize scar formation and are beneficial for reducing keloid scars.

• How to use it

It is usually applied as a topical cream.

Kawakawa

New Zealand also has its own native plants for skin healing. Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), a small tree with distinctive heart shaped leaves, is a significant and sacred plant to Māori. Among its many healing properties, it is used to soothe insect bites and rashes, enhance circulation and speed the healing of wounds and burns.

• How to use it

The leaves were traditionally applied as a poultice, but today you'll also find it used in many herbal ointments and creams.

References

Lavagna SM, Secci D, Chimenti P, et al (2001). Efficacy of Hypericum and Calendula oils in the epithelial reconstruction of surgical wounds in childbirth with caesarean section. Farmaco, 56 (5-7), 451-453.