Q&A: Vitamin E for wounds?

Consumer Reports News: June 08, 2010 06:08 AM

Is it true that applying vitamin E to minor cuts or burns will help them heal? —M.B., Roslyn Heights, N.Y.

The evidence isn’t encouraging, and the treatment might even irritate the skin. In theory, vitamin E’s antioxidant powers might aid healing by fighting the damaging effects of inflammation. But in the only two clinical trials we could find that tested this theory, burns and surgical wounds treated for up to four months with the vitamin had no less scarring than those receiving a placebo ointment. In some cases the vitamin worsened the wound scar, and it triggered rashes in up to 30 percent of users.

The evidence is nearly as scanty but somewhat more promising for topical vitamin A, which may enhance healing by fighting infection and stimulating new skin growth. And it seems less likely to irritate the skin.

Take a look at our recommendations for treating minor burns , and for more on the effectiveness and safety of topical vitamin E and A, you can look them up in our Natural Medicine Ratings  (subscribers only).

Aaron Bailey

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