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Table of Contents > Articles > Vitamin E and Scars
Vitamin E and Scars

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 you.


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: http//

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. 1986;7(4)309-312.

Review Date: December 1999
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Vitamin E

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