Your Skin and Vitamin E: Does Vitamin E Heal Scars?

One of the most touted home scar removal remedies and acne scar treatments is vitamin E, with recommendations from slathering the oil on a healing wound, popping open a supplement capsule and coating an existing scar, or slathering traumatized skin--i.e., acne prone cheeks--with the cream.

These claims make sense. Vitamin E is a lipid (fat)-soluble vitamin that is the main antioxidant in the skin. When applied topically as an oil or cream, it is able to penetrate deeply into the skin’s tissue. Because it is an antioxidant, it can help stabilize cell membranes and, after trauma or injury to the dermal tissue, can ease inflammation by reducing the amount of chemicals released by the cells of the inflammatory process.

Discovered in 1922, researchers were hopeful that vitamin E would be an effective treatment of skin wounds, trauma, and scars. While anecdotal evidence remains positive, scientific studies have shown that topical vitamin E has little effect on wound healing and scars and can even be detrimental!

Scientific Studies

In one study, published in the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation, vitamin E was used to treat post-surgical wounds in 159 patients for 4 months and patients were followed for one year. At the end of the study, there was no change in scar thickness or cosmetic appearance in the patients who were treated with vitamin E when compared with their counterparts receiving placebo. However, more patients receiving topical vitamin E cream had bad skin reactions than those receiving placebo.

In another study, published in Dermatologic Surgery, in post-surgical wounds in 15 patients compared topical vitamin E to placebo over 4 weeks. There was no benefit with topical vitamin E--in fact, the study concluded vitamin E had been cosmetically detrimental to the scar. Further, nearly a third of the patients using topical vitamin E reported developing contact dermatitis in response to the cream.

Critics of these studies insist that the concentration of vitamin E used in these studies was too low, and that was why it didn't work in these trials. They cite large bodies of anecdotal evidence as proof that vitamin E applied directly to a healing wound helps reduce scarring.

Conclusions

While further study is needed, the current evidence is that topical vitamin E does not heal scarring, and can even be detrimental to the healing process and ultimate cosmetic outcome of scars.

However, researchers have shown that low levels of antioxidants in the body can delay wound healing, so increasing vitamin E levels internally could help speed healing and help prevent scarring. If you have acne or other skin trauma, add vitamin E rich foods into your diet, such as almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts. You can also take a supplement, but look for one labeled "D" instead of "D,L"--this indicates that the supplement contains the vitamin in its natural form rather than its synthetic form, and studies have found that the natural form is far more active than the synthetic.

The daily recommended intake of vitamin E is 22 IU, but when taken internally for scarring or other treatment, it's a good idea to take 400-800 IU each day. Toxicity generally occurs when vitamin E is taken in excess of 1500 IU.

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Comments 13 comments

ocbill profile image

ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

I wonder what is a strong level to have, not the minimum 1000 mg of course.


jonaitis profile image

jonaitis 7 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks ocbill--updated!


akhilkarun 7 years ago

excellent article.. really insightfull and practical. Thankyou so much!


Skin care 7 years ago

i want to be beautiful. so i will try it.


Nan Mynatt profile image

Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

I use vitamin E oil on my skin each night, and my skin is lovely, as I am told by my friends. I use it on my hands and feet. Your also need the oil for healing. Good research! I honeymooned in San Francisco a few years back. I lived in Los Angeles at the time.


skin care product 6 years ago

thank you very much for the information. i will share this to others. thanks again.


cranberriekizzes profile image

cranberriekizzes 6 years ago from canada

I tried vitamin E before with positive results, great hub!!!


B Stucki profile image

B Stucki 6 years ago

Thanks for the hub. Vitamin E has some really good benefits but I will not be using it to get rid of scars. Great Hub.


Get Rid Of Headaches Fast 5 years ago

I didn't know vitamin E had so many benefits. Very informative hub


agnes  5 years ago

i have very bad acane and i look so bad,am trying out vitamin e now


jimmylesaint profile image

jimmylesaint 4 years ago from Metropolis of Life

Vitamin E is used in specialist burn centres and definitely reduces scars and prevents sunburn. Make sure it is as the author says, natural Vitamin E.


jerah 2 years ago

I wanted to try to take vitamin e softgel..is it safe to take vitamin e with 1000 iu?


jerrah 2 years ago

Is it safe if i take vitamin e 1000 iu?

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