Information about cause, treatment, and prevention

Is Vitamin E Helpful or Harmful for Keloid Scars?

Vitamin E may make keloid scars worse if used by itself.

In lab research and anecdotal evidence, topical use of vitamin E sounds like a promising treatment option for keloids. It is a known antioxidant that theoretically could promote healing by limiting the cell-damaging effects of free radicals, as well as inhibiting inflammation and excess collagen production.3

However, to date actual human trials of topical vitamin E ointment by itself have produced unsatisfactory results. The most promising study showed that it could improve hypertrophic scars in more people than silicon sheets alone, but unfortunately it also consistently led to a rash. In a clinical trial where patients with existing scars were randomly assigned to either a vitamin E or a placebo-treated group, the vitamin E ointment was either ineffective or actually worsened scar appearance. Vitamin E also seemed to offer no scar preventive benefit in a clinical trial involving burn patients after skin-graft procedures.3

But in combination with other ingredients vitamin E may be helpful. A study showed that 50-75% of patients with a high risk of keloids that used a topical ointment (Scarguard™) containing hydrocortisone (0.5%), vitamin E (0.5%), and silicone (12%) after surgery had better results than similar patients who were untreated. Even though treated patients still developed scars or keloids, most had a less-objectionable texture and half were less red.3

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