Fact or Fiction: Vitamin E helps minimize scars.

Written by Courtney La Marine, L.E., owner of Clove Studios

There are many benefits of vitamin E, including that it can be helpful in treating and preventing heart and blood vessel diseases, such as hardening of the arteries; diabetes; brain and nervous system diseases; and nerve and muscle disorders. Furthermore, immunity levels can improve when vitamin E is consumed on a regular basis. An important benefit of vitamin E is that it reduces cholesterol and the risk of developing cancer.

It also prevents the oxidation of free radicals, the unstable compounds that damage the cell structure, and controls the production of collagen, which can contribute to internally healing a wound.

The topical application of vitamin E, which is part of the antioxidant family of tocopherols and tocotrienols, to treat a scar is not supported by many studies. Since the discovery that vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant in skin, this substance has been utilized in the treatment of almost every type of skin lesion imaginable. A scar that is seen on the surface of the skin is the result of a complex process the skin undergoes as it recovers from damage. There are many factors that affect how a wound heals and the way the wound heals affects how the scar looks.

The Healing of a Scar
If a client has a fresh wound and would like to aid in the healing of the scar, they should use a mild cleanser and water to clean the wound instead of hydrogen peroxide, which is known to destroy the new skin cells that immediately begin to grow. They should also cover the wound as allowing a fresh cut to breathe is an old wives' tale that will actually delay healing by as much as 50 percent. They should treat the affected area daily with an antibiotic ointment, which will prevent infection, and keep it covered with a bandage.


faceOnce new skin has formed over the wound, remind clients to keep it protected from the sun. Using an SPF daily will greatly reduce the appearance of a scar and protect against hyperpigmentation. Clients should proceed to gently massage the mark once the surface is completely healed. Massage helps break down the dense bands of collagen that attach to underlying tissue.

When clients are choosing products to help treat their scar, they should avoid scar gels that are little more than silicone. Although pure silicone can help heal and reduce the appearance of scars, silicone alone is not all that the skin needs to improve scars. A range of anti-inflammatory, skin-healing, and skin-repairing ingredients will give clients better results because they work with the skin's natural repair process.

Results from one study showed that the chance of contact dermatitis is greatly increased when using vitamin E topically on surgical wounds. Typically, the use of vitamin E directly on scars is discouraged.

While vitamin E can be beneficial for many things, using it topically does not speed up the healing process. Taking it internally, along with a balanced diet and lifestyle, will help keep the body healthy from the inside out.

References
Baumann, L., & Spence, J. (1999). The Effects of Topical Vitamin E on the Cosmetic Appearance of Scars. Dermatologic Surgery, 25(4), 311-315.
Chung, V., Kelley, L., Marra, D., & Jiang, S. (2006). Onion Extract Gel Versus Petrolatum Emollient on New Surgical Scars: a Prospective Double-Blinded Study. Dermatologic Surgery, 32(2), 193–197.
Zurada, J., Kriegel, D., & Davis, I. (2006). Topical treatments for hypertrophic scars. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 55(6), 1024–1031.

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