The effect of using vitamin E on scars is often minimal according to various scientific studies. Despite a common belief that topical vitamin E oil can noticeably fade and smooth scars, this treatment can usually yield either no positive results or sometimes even worsen the scars' initial appearance. Some people who have used vitamin E on scars can even develop problems such as contact dermatitis, depending on their skin's level of sensitivity. Although vitamin E has generally not been proven effective at reducing scar appearance after a wound already heals, its natural antioxidant properties can sometimes help speed up the healing of existing wounds that have not yet closed.
Vitamin E capsules are sometimes a popular treatment option for scars in spite of medical evidence that they're ineffective. Some people who try the capsules break them apart and extract the small measures of vitamin E to rub on their scars, although many dermatologists report that this method is not effective. Taking vitamin E capsules orally can often improve the skin's overall elasticity and smoothness when taken consistently over time, but the topical application of vitamin E on scars can actually increase the chances of an allergic reaction. Doctors often advise anyone considering using topical vitamin E oil to first test it on a small patch of skin. Since vitamin E naturally blocks the skin's collagen production, spreading it over a newly-formed scar can sometimes weaken it and cause the wound to break back open.
Even though vitamin E is not considered the most effective choice for fading scars, it can have good results when applied topically to other minor skin conditions such as sunburns. Another positive effect of vitamin E on wound healing is a reduction in itching while the cut or lesion goes through its various healing stages. Some people who suffer from eczema can also find relief from the topical use of vitamin E.
Several treatments can have noticeably better effects than vitamin E on scars. Adhesive sheets of silicone gel applied to raised scars can smooth them over time, as long as the sheets are worn and secured in place on a consistent daily basis. These types of gel sheets are frequently available in drug stores or pharmacies, though they can often be more expensive than vitamin E oil or capsules. Other alternatives to vitamin E on scars include the use of creams containing aloe and sometimes laser treatments administered in a dermatologist's office.