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Today’s question, submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page:
I was wondering if applying vitamin E to a scar really helps it heal or not.
I’m glad that you asked.
For years, doctors have been recommending vitamin E, a known blood thinner, to patients to prevent scarring. Unfortunately, research from the journal Dermatologic Surgery shows vitamin E may actually be detrimental to the cosmetic appearance of a scar. The study notes that 90% of patients’ scars were not improved and some actually worsened with use of topical vitamin E oil.
Why the worsening in some patients? This is mostly due to an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis in some patients, which may exacerbate scarring.
Otherwise, for non-scarred skin, I still love vitamin E, because it has been shown to have higher antioxidant activity than ubiquinone, vitamin C, or lipoic acid. Vitamin E also aids in sun protection when used under a sunscreen: according to a 2001 study in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, “topical vitamin E prevents oxidative stress and […] immunosuppression elicited by UV [rays].” Amazing!
Save your vitamin E creams, oils, and capsules for non-injured regions! Use silicone gel sheeting with other ointments for your scars: according to a 2007 review in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, silicone gel sheeting is the only form of treatment effective against raised scars.
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