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March 20, 2007

BehindTheMedspeak: Vitamin E makes scars worse!



Can't be.

I mean, what about all those Vitamin E-containing lotions, creams and emiollients touted to remove stretch marks, clear up scars and even heal wounds?

Anahad O'Connor's March 13, 2007 New York Times Science section "Really?" column took a look at the Vitamin E bandwagon; the article follows.

    The Claim: Vitamin E Helps Remove Scars

    The Facts: Home remedies for scar removal run the gamut from lemon juice to aloe vera gel. But one that stands above the rest — in popularity at least — is vitamin E.

    Depending on whom you ask, a little vitamin E dabbed on the skin can remove stretch marks, clear up scars and even heal wounds. Discovered in 1922, it can be found widely now in moisturizers and creams.

    But according to most studies, its scar-busting properties are overstated. One of the largest studies to investigate the claim was published in 1986 in The Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation. In it, scientists followed a group of 159 people who had suffered burns over the course of a year, randomly selecting some to regularly apply vitamin E to their scars and others to use a different topical cream. Those in the vitamin E group showed no noticeable improvement in the size, thickness or appearance of their scars by the end of the study.

    In a 1999 study, scientists at the University of Miami followed a group of patients who had recently had minor surgery. Each patient was given two ointments labeled A and B — one with vitamin E, the other without — and told to apply each to a separate half of their scars twice daily for four weeks. After that, the scars were evaluated by the patients, the scientists and an independent observer.

    The vitamin E not only had no beneficial effect on the appearance of the scars, it made matters worse. Almost a third of the patients had an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis, leading the authors to give vitamin E the thumbs down.

    The Bottom Line: According to studies, vitamin E does not remove scars.


Here's a riddle I just made up.

Q. Why is Anahad O'Connor like Georges Seurat?

A. They're both pointillists.

See, O'Connor has a habit of puncturing balloons, like you would with a pin or needle, and... oh, never mind.

March 20, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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