When the body repairs a wound, it often does so by creating fibrous scar tissue. Internal scars that may develop following surgery can cause significant pain. Surface scars are generally painless, but they may be cosmetically unpleasant. In some cases, scars on the skin can develop into a special form of oversized scar called a keloid. Keloids are generally red or pink, and often form a ridge several millimeters above the skin. These scars occur when the body continues to fill the scar with collagen after it has healed. Darker-skinned people are more likely to develop keloids than those with lighter skin.
Conventional treatment of any type of scar is less than entirely satisfactory. Keloids and other scars on the skin may be reduced in size by freezing (cryotherapy), steroid injections, radiation therapy, or surgical removal. However, a new, even more visible scar may develop in the place of the one that was removed. Similarly, removal of painful internal scars may lead to the new formation of painful scar tissue.
Proposed Natural Treatments
The herb gotu kola is said to help remove keloid scars.1,2 When used for this purpose, it is taken orally, applied to the skin, or injected into the scar. However, there is no reliable evidence that it is effective.
According to some schools of acupuncture, surface scars impede the flow of “energy,” and thereby cause various illnesses. Acupuncture treatment of both surface and internal scars is said either to shrink them or, at least, to reduce their effects. However there is no meaningful scientific evidence to indicate that acupuncture offers any benefits for scars.
Other natural treatments proposed for scars, but again without reliable supporting evidence, include: Aloe vera, allantoin, coconut oil, collagen, elastin, jojoba oil, lavender oil, massage, magnet therapy, selenium, snail extract, tamanu oil, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
References[ + ]
1. Kartnig T. Clinical applications of Centella asiatica (L.). Herbs Spices Med Plants. 1988;3:146-173.
2. Bosse JP, Papillon J, Frenette G, et al. Clinical study of a new antikeloid agent. Ann Plast Surg. 1979;3:13-21.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 12/15/2015
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.