There are so many different types of over the counter scar treatments that it can be difficult to know whether or not they actually work. The ingredients of the treatments play a significant role in their effectiveness. The right ingredients, especially in the right combination, will facilitate the natural healing process, reducing the appearance of the scar, while other ingredients may not work, or even cause more damage.
Vitamin E is commonly found in skin care ingredients since it is a powerful antioxidant that promotes beautiful skin. However, there is no real evidence that using vitamin E actually improves the scar. Instead, the benefits are most likely due to continued moistening of the area, rather than the infusion of the vitamin. Many people also develop contact dermatitis from vitamin E, so it is another ingredient to avoid.
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant, and it plays an important role in the body’s healthy immune response, which includes wound healing. Furthermore, it is essential for proper formation of collagen and elastin in skin, which helps build healthy skin cells, rather than damaged scar tissue, after the skin is injured. Vitamin C also fades the hyperpigmentation that can come with scarring. Therefore, it is an effective and safe ingredient in an over the counter scar treatment.
Silicone is another ingredient that has been shown in studies to aid in the treatment of scars, while not promoting any danger. It reduces any redness, pain and itching associated with the scarring, while also improving the elasticity of the skin.
Another beneficial, and effective, ingredient for over the counter scar treatment creams is aloe vera. This plant has long been used in cosmetics and first aid creams due to its moisturizing and healing effects. It protects the wound while also promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and strengthening the collagen structure.
Many popular over the counter scar treatment creams contain hydroquinone, and it has a reputation for effectively lightening scars. However, it is a very dangerous ingredient that has been banned in several countries. Even in the smaller doses found in over the counter creams, it can lead to problems such as impaired wound healing, irritation, nail discoloration, and ochronosis (permanent skin darkening).
Another seemingly effective scar treatment ingredient that is commonly found in over the counter creams is kojic acid. Like hydroquinone, it may work, but the negative effects are not worth its lightening abilities. Studies have found that prolonged use leads to more sensitive skin and contact dermatitis. It also is not effective at improving the appearance of scars, beyond lightening the skin color.
When OTC Treatments Do Not Work
If you have a keloid, indented scar, or certain other scars, then over the counter treatments will not work. These scars require more invasive treatments, such as laser therapy, collagen injections, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or microneedling. If you are unsure about the best form of treatment for your scar, then you should discuss it with your dermatologist.
When looking for an effective over the counter scar treatment, you should look for all natural ingredients that do not include preservatives or fragrances, as this could also aggravate the skin. You do not want to use any harsh ingredients; instead, you want to support your skin’s natural healing process, which will reduce the appearance of any scars.
Have a question about your scar or a particular ingredient? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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