While vitamin E may help moisturize the skin, research indicates that vitamin E oils and supplements have no notable effect on scars.
Vitamin E has a wide range of benefits, including keeping the eyes healthy and strengthening the immune system. Some people believe that vitamin E reduces the appearance of scars, but most of the evidence for this is anecdotal.
This article looks at whether vitamin E might help reduce the appearance of scars and other beneficial techniques.
Vitamin E is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with specific antioxidant effects.
Vitamin E exists naturally in some foods, and manufacturers add it to others. Studies suggest that the richest naturally-occurring vitamin E sources are nuts, spinach, whole grains, olive oil, and sunflower oil.
The vitamin is available as an oral supplement or as oil that people can apply to the skin.
Learn about the best foods for vitamin E here.
Vitamin E is a popular treatment for burns and scars. However, studies looking at whether or not the topical application of vitamin E helps with scars have yielded disappointing results.
An older study from 1999 looking at vitamin E’s effect on scarring found that almost one-third of participants had allergic reactions to the vitamin. In total, 90% reported either an allergic reaction or that the vitamin did not affect their scarring.
A 2016 review says that more research is required to investigate whether there is any value in using vitamin E to manage scar healing. At present, there is not enough evidence to recommend using vitamin E to diminish scars.
Based on the available evidence, it would seem that vitamin E does not reduce the appearance of scarring.
However, moisturizing the skin can help prevent scars from forming during wound healing, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
As long as a person is not allergic to vitamin E, they can use a moisturizer that contains this ingredient. However, it is unclear if moisturizers containing vitamin E would offer special benefits.
Anyone interested in using topical vitamin E oil or taking vitamin E supplements should speak to a healthcare provider before trying.
There are other ways to reduce the appearance of scars that may be more effective than vitamin E. These include:
Hydrogel or silicone gel sheets are soft, flexible, self-adhesive dressings that a person can apply over scars to flatten and soften them.
Silicone may hydrate the scar tissue and reduce the production of collagen fibers. This means that scars may develop flatter, softer, and paler than they would otherwise.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom suggest using silicone sheets for 12 hours a day for at least 3 months.
Scar massage is one of the most common treatments for scar management. According to the British Skin Foundation, massage may help to reduce pain, itching, and sensitivity. It may also soften some scars.
For older or mature scars of 10 centimeters squared (cm2), massage for 5 minutes 3–4 times per day. A scar specialist can help assess the best technique for a particular scar.
Dermarolling, or microneedling, is a procedure that involves rolling tiny needles over the skin’s surface. Some people think that by creating tiny injuries, the skin will heal itself and improve the appearance of scars.
A dermatologist may be able to carry out dermarolling treatments.
Other cosmetic procedures
Other procedures that may reduce the appearance of scars include:
- Laser therapy:This involves using light to target the blood vessels that make scars appear inflamed. The NHS say it might also stimulate collagen production and reduce pitting. However, not many long-term studies exist on the effectiveness of laser therapy for this purpose.
- Dermal fillers: Dermal fillers are injections that contain substances to plump the skin. This can reduce the appearance of pitted scars, but the effects are temporary.
- Cryotherapy: Practitioners sometimes use cryotherapy to freeze keloid scars and stop them from growing. It can also flatten them. This therapy involves using liquid nitrogen, which may lighten the skin in the surrounding area.
While most scars fade over time, many are permanent. How long it takes for a scar to fade can depend on the initial injury’s size and depth.
According to the NHS, fine-line scars from injuries such as cuts or surgical incisions can take up to 2 years to flatten and fade. Hypertrophic scars may continue to thicken for 6 months before fading over the next few years.
An older 2008 study looked at scar redness in 103 volunteers. The researchers found that it took 7 months, on average, for the redness to fade. In people with darker skin tones, scars may be red, violet, or dark brown.
There is little clinical evidence that vitamin E oil or supplements can help reduce the appearance of scars. There is some anecdotal evidence, but the positive effects people notice may result from moisturizing or massaging the scar, rather than from the vitamin E itself.
Other scar treatments include silicone sheets, massage, and cosmetic procedures that stimulate collagen production, such as dermarolling.