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La vitamine E peut-elle aider la peau à cicatriser ?

Does Vitamin E aid in healing?

Also known as tocopherol, this vitamin is renowned for its antioxidant properties. It neutralises the aggressive action of free radicals on the skin and protects it from external aggressions, such as pollution or UV rays - which accelerate skin ageing. Its healing action, however, is somewhat controversial.

Scars, in a nutshell.

Following a lesion or injury to the dermis, the healing process often leaves a visible mark on the skin known as a scar. During healing, the scar tissue does not have the same hue as the tissue it replaces, leaving a mark that is either lighter or darker. Depending on the severity of the injury, its location, and age, the scar may fade over time or persist for several years.

There are various types of scars:

  • The hypertrophic scars are of a reddish appearance and result from long-term inflammations;

  • The atrophic scars appear in the form of craters and are often caused by acne spots;

  • Sclerotic scars appear hard and lack flexibility, they occur after burns;

  • Keloid scarsare dark red marks that extend beyond the initial lesion, appearing as a result of trauma (surgical scars, acne...).

Is topical application of Vitamin E effective in accelerating wound healing?

In theory, when applied topically, vitamin E is believed to be able to penetrate the skin and thus reduce the formation of free radicals, which interfere with wound healing . However, scientific studies conducted on the healing properties of external vitamin E contradict each other.

Indeed, a study from 1999 demonstrated no benefit from the topical use of vitamin E following skin surgery, quite the contrary. The application of a vitamin E treatment even proved detrimental to the healing process in 33% of subjects who developed contact dermatitis. Similarly, a 2006 study concluded that a gel containing vitamin E had no effect on the surgical wounds of children. More recently, in 2016, researchers also concluded that there is not yet sufficient evidence that topical vitamin E has a significant beneficial effect on the appearance of scars to justify its widespread use.

Nevertheless, in animal subjects, topical application of vitamin E is beneficial. Thus, a tocopherol cream had a positive effect on the wound healing process in diabetic rats. In this study, the higher dose of tocopherol cream (0.29%) showed better wound healing than the 0.06% tocopherol cream. Other studies suggest that vitamin E is effective in wound healing due to its role as an antioxidant and its influence on the connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Thus, according to a 2010 report, vitamin E maintains and stabilises the integrity of cell membranes by offering protection against the oxidative destruction of free radicals.

In conclusion, it is not an easy task today to determine the healing properties of vitamin E! Scientific studies are still ongoing on this function of vitamin E.

Sources

  • SPENCER J. & al. The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars. Dermatologic Surgery (1999).

  • MUSALMAH M & al. Comparative effects of palm vitamin e and alpha-tocopherol on healing and wound tissue antioxidant enzyme levels in diabetic rats. Lipids (2005).

  • GOLDMAN R. & al. Vitamin E for treating children’s scar: does it help reduce scarring? Canadian Family Physician (2006).

  • HAMID S. A. & al. Cutaneous wound healing after topical application of Pistacia atlantica gel formulation in rats. Turkish Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2017).

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