Since it is known as a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E has gained tremendous popularity as an ingredient in many skin care products, and is often touted as being effective at fading scars.
However, the truth is that in the vast majority of cases, up to 90%, vitamin E either has no discernible effect on scars, or it can even worsen their appearance.
When people notice improvement in their scars after using vitamin E, more often than not, it is simply hydration of the skin. While skin hydration is important to scar healing, it only plays one part in the proper healing of scars. However, vitamin E can also have some undesirable side effects, such as contact dermatitis, with itching, redness, and swelling. Contact dermatitis is seen in up to a third of people who use vitamin E on their skin. This makes many dermatologists, pediatricians, and other skin care professionals recommend avoiding using vitamin E on scars.
Vitamin E is often found in products that also contain other questionable ingredients, such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, preservatives, and fragrances. These ingredients have all been shown to be potentially harmful and are best avoided in scar treatment.
Vitamin E has been used in attempts to treat almost every imaginable skin condition. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence, of course, that vitamin E speeds healing and fading of scars. As a result, many people use topical vitamin E to help improve their scars after surgery or other skin injuries.
A recent study examined whether vitamin E actually had any effect on scar healing or the cosmetic appearance of scars. In this study, fifteen patients used vitamin E on new scars regularly for 12 weeks. Vitamin E was used on one side of the scar, while a common emollient was used on the other side of the scar. Neither the participants, nor the physicians who evaluated the appearances of the scars, knew which was which. The scars were checked at 1, 4, and 12 weeks and the opinions of both the participants and the physicians were taken into account. The conclusion of the study was that vitamin E clearly does not improve the appearance of scars, and in some cases, actually makes them worse.
For these reasons, vitamin E should not be used as a treatment for scars. Instead, people looking to reduce the appearance of a scar should look for a product that contains ingredients proven to help scars fade, such as dimethicone silicone in conjunction with aloe vera and licorice extract.
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