Information about cause, treatment, and prevention

Can Green Tea Catechins Help Treat Keloid Scars?

Research suggests green tea catechins may help reduce keloid scars.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is an abundant organic chemical in green tea. Many lab, animal, and clinical research studies have documented that EGCG has biological properties (e.g., anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant) that offer health benefits. Based on these properties, research investigating the potential of EGCG to prevent or treat keloids suggests these beneficial green tea polyphenols could be a natural herbal therapy for scars.38

How Does EGCG Work?

Numerous in vitro tests have identified specific ways that EGCG regulates the activity of different inflammatory proteins and enzymes in keloid scar tissue:38

  • Inhibits the proliferation of keloid fibroblasts, leading to less collagen production
  • Blocks the activation of a protein known to promote collagen production in keloids
  • Suppresses vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels

Evidence of Benefit

Animal studies have confirmed that EGCG doesn’t just stop keloid cells in the lab. Human keloid and normal fibroblasts were implanted into mice. The mice were then randomly assigned to either a placebo-injected control group or the treatment group that received EGCG injections into the developing keloid nodules. Prior to injection, the keloid nodules were twice the size of normal skin nodules on the mice; after EGCG treatment the keloid nodules had shrunk to the size of the normal nodules. Microscopic examination revealed that EGCG exerted the same effects demonstrated in the lab on live test subjects, without any adverse side effects.38

Researchers suggest that EGCG would be more effective on keloids as a topical cream or administered by injection, rather than taking it in supplemental form. This is based on human clinical studies which have shown that topical EGCG improved the appearance of sun-damaged skin.38

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Cells that produce collagen.
Placebo was a saline solution typically used in these types of
studies as a control mechanism that does not affect the cells.