Treatments for removing acne scars include the chemical peels, microdermabrasion and the Fraxel laser. You may have also pondered using the readily available and affordable supplement vitamin E to removing acne scarring.
For decades people have relied on vitamin E to speed wounds healing and reverse the natural aging of the skin. However, is this extra slathering of vitamin E justified, or is your time and money better spent on proven scar removal technologies?
Topical vitamin E for healing scars
To answer this question, researchers have tested the efficacy of vitamin E at removing scars. Surprisingly, an investigation in Dermatologic Surgery reported that applying vitamin E to healing wounds could actually hinder the skin's repair process. In this study, researchers gave 15 patients who underwent skin cancer removal surgeries two types of post-wound ointments. One ointment (A) contained just commons moisturizing agents, and the other ointment (B) contained the same ingredients as item A but with the addition of vitamin E.
Each patient applied cream A to one-half of their wound and cream B to the other half of their wound twice a day for four weeks. Both the scar patients and physicians observed the cosmetic changes in the scars at week one, four and twelve after the start of the study.
Contrary to popular belief, in this study, for 90% of the patients, topical vitamin E either had no effect on, or actually worsened the cosmetic appearance of scars. Also, 33% of the study volunteers developed a contact dermatitis to the vitamin E. Based on these results, the investigators discouraged the use of topical vitamin E for treating scars.
Consuming vitamin E to heal scars
While applying vitamin E to the skin in an effort speed the skin's repair process may not work, enjoying a diet rich in vitamin could. For example, a report in International Journal of Experimental Pathology found that in mice, low levels of antioxidants, like vitamin E, delayed wound healing.
To make vitamin E a team player in your acne scar repair process, you need to consume sufficient amounts of this fat-soluble nutrient. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 30 International Units (IU) per day.
The tolerable upper intake level of vitamin E is 1,500 IU per day for adults. Food sources of vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seed kernels, sunflower oil wheat germ oil, and hazelnuts.
If your diet lacks vitamin E, supplements are an option. Health stores sale vitamin E supplements as alpha-tocopheryl acetate, a form of alpha-tocopherol that protects its ability to serve as an antioxidant.
You will find the synthetic form labeled "D, L" and the natural form labeled "D". But, keep in mind that according to the National Institutes of Health, the synthetic form of vitamin E is only half as active as the natural form.
In short, in addition to buying a vitamin E cream to heal your scars faster, you can also enjoy vitamin E rich meals.
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin E. January 23, 2007.
Rasik, Anamika M & Arti Shukla. Antioxidant status in delayed healing type of wounds. International Journal of Experimental Pathology; August 2000, vol 81, no 4, pp. 257-263.
Baumann LS & Md JS. The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars Dermatologic Surgery; April 1999, vol 25, no 4, pp 311-315.