Vyvian (XueQing) Jiang, BSc Pharm Student
Part of being a kid is being careless, which can often result in injuries. As a result, we have to deal with the initial pain and tears associated with these injuries, and the big, ugly battle scars that seem to stick around once they heal. Today, we’ll look at different types of scars that can form after an injury and whether vitamin creams can help make these scars disappear.
Types of Scars
There are four types of scars that can form after an injury, and they’re classified according to their cause or the appearance of the scar tissue.1
- Keloid Scars: these types of scars are the definition of a “nasty” scar. They extend beyond the borders of the original injury, and are generally raised above the level of the skin. Unfortunately, these types of scars are more common in darker-skinned individuals.
- Hypertrophic Scars: these kind of scars are similar to keloids since they are also red and raised. However, what sets them apart is that they don’t extend beyond the original injury.
- Contracture Scars: these scars are usually the result of a burn, which causes the skin to tighten.
- Acne Scars: these scars are typically the result of puberty and, of course, acne.
Today, we’ll mainly discuss the use of different vitamin creams to prevent the development of new scars and improve the appearance of existing keloid and hypertrophic scars.
Vitamin E Cream2
Studies have shown that vitamin E creams don’t improve keloid and hypertrophic scar appearance on their own. However, when used in combination with silicone sheets and hydrocortisone, vitamin E appears to improve scar appearance. Since hydrocortisone and silicone are both known to improve scar appearance, we don’t know whether the vitamin E itself is truly helpful, or if it’s just the silicone and hydrocortisone combination working its usual magic.
One study did demonstrate improved scar appearance with vitamin E alone, however, this study only looked at application of the vitamin E cream before and after surgery. In most cases, it’s impossible to predict when and where an injury will occur, so this study has poor real-life applications. Therefore, we can conclude that vitamin E creams don’t appear to help with improving the appearance of scars.
There is a study that established a link between reduced vitamin D concentrations and an increased incidence of hypertrophic scars. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that supplementing vitamin D may help with scar healing, however this is an area of interest for further drug developments.
Since vitamin E isn’t effective for scar healing, is there anything else that could help? The answer is yes: scar massage. Essentially, this treatment involves applying a moisturizer to the scar and massaging it in to help the scar heal properly. Side effects of this treatment are limited to potential skin irritation and allergies to the chosen moisturizer. Scar massage may help prevent hypertrophic (raised) scars and leave a flatter scar instead.
The Bottom Line
There are different types of scars: keloid, hypertrophic, contracture and acne scars. Vitamin E in combination with hydrocortisone and silicone sheets can help improve keloid and hypertrophic scar appearance, but there is no evidence to suggest vitamin E alone makes a difference. However, it’s possible that using a moisturizer and massaging the scar can improve the scar’s appearance.
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(Jasmine needs the link for later; will remove after)
- An Overview of Treating Scars. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-scars#1
- Volkan Tanaydin, Jurek Conings, Masoud Malyar, René van der Hulst, Berend van der Lei; The Role of Topical Vitamin E in Scar Management: A Systematic Review, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 36, Issue 8, 1 September 2016, Pages 959–965, https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1093/asj/sjw046
- Correia-Sá, I., Serrão, P., Marques, M., & Vieira-Coelho, M. (2017). Hypertrophic Scars: Are Vitamins and Inflammatory Biomarkers Related with the Pathophysiology of Wound Healing?. Obesity Surgery. doi: 10.1007/s11695-017-2740-4