Vitamin E has a reputation for improving skin quality, and many people
regularly apply topical vitamin E oil for this effect. Because of this, a recent
study looked at vitamin E's effectiveness for improving the appearance of
surgical scars. Vitamin E oil was found ineffective on surgical scars, and, in
fact, use of vitamin E oil may lead to contact dermatitis in some people.
Also, the incidence of allergic reactions to topical vitamin E is high.
So, if you'd like to minimize a scar, vitamin E does not seem to be the
answer. However, there are several techniques that can help (none will
completely erase a scar):
Dermabrasion: this involves using specialized medical equipment to
remove the top layers of the skin. It has had good success for scars caused by
acne, chickenpox, tattoos, and surgery.
Laser resurfacing: this technique involves using high energy light to
burn away unwanted, damaged skin.
Collagen injections: this involves a process through which scar tissue
is replaced by small pieces of normal skin.
Chemical peels: these involve smoothing a scar by removing the top
layer of skin with a chemical solution.
Talk with your dermatologist to determine which method might work best for
Contact dermatitis: Skin inflammation caused by contact with
substances found in the environment. The skin becomes red, swollen, itchy, and
blisters may even develop.
American Academy of Dermatology. "What's In a Scar" pamphlet. Available at:
Baumann LS, Spencer J. The effects of topical E on the cosmetic appearance of
scars. Dermatol Surg. 1999;25(4):311-315.
Jenkins M, Alexander JW, MacMillan BG, Waymack JP, Kopcha R. Failure of
topical steroids and vitamin E to reduce postoperative scar formation following
reconstructive surgery. J Burn Care Rehabil.
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