If your skin is marked as the result of acne or an injury, or if you are healing from a surgical incision, you may wish to use a product to help minimize scarring. Vitamin E has long been touted as a useful treatment for scars. You can also purchase a commercial product, Mederma, which claims to diminish scars. When using either treatment, watch for evidence of itching or swelling. If you experience any symptoms, discontinue use of the product and consult your physician.
Vitamin E is the term used to describe a group of tocol and tocotrienol derivatives, one of which -- alpha-tocopherol -- is a useful part of the human diet. Vitamin E is an ingredient in most skin creams, and when applied topically, a small amount penetrates the skin surface where it has beneficial antioxidant effects, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. You can purchase vitamin E in liquid or capsule form. If using the pill form, puncture the capsule with a pin and squeeze out the liquid.
Merz Pharmaceuticals, makers of Mederma products, claim that using Mederma helps make scars less noticeable and promotes softer and smoother skin tissue in the area of the scar. Mederma Skin Care for Scars is a greaseless, invisible topical gel. The primary active ingredient in the product’s patented formula is a proprietary botanical extract called Cepalin. You can apply Mederma to a wound as soon as it is healed, or in the case of surgical scars, when the sutures are removed. You use the gel three to four times per day for eight weeks on a new scar, or for three to six months on an existing scar.
Vitamin E Effects
Evidence from scientific studies suggests against the use of vitamin E as a scar preventive. The effectiveness of topical vitamin E in treating surgical wounds is not proven, and in some individuals it can cause contact dermatitis. A 1999 study performed at the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery showed that applying topical vitamin E not only did not help the appearance of scar tissue, but in some cases actually worsened the cosmetic appearance of scars.
A 2002 study performed on rabbit ears at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago showed a significant improvement in dermal collagen organization following the use of Mederma. The "Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology" reported on a 2009 study that found among subjects who had lesions removed from their upper chests, more than three-quarters of those using Mederma reported a moderate to significant improvement is the appearance of their scars.
- Linus Pauling Institute Research Report: All About E: Does Topical Vitamin E Improve Skin Appearance?
- Mederma: Mederma Scar Gel
- Dermatology.org: Topical Vitamin E Formulations: Not Always Benign
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Effect of Mederma on Hypertrophic Scarring in the Rabbit Ear Model
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: Study Shows Mederma's Effectiveness