New Study Shows Moisturizers Can Prevent And Treat Scars

New Study Shows Moisturizers Can Prevent And Treat Scars

Scarring is perhaps the most discouraging facet of acne. All the hard work in getting rid of the pimple in vain because a scar took its place.

Today I want to share with you a simple way that may prevent acne scars. And this is something you should be doing anyway, moisturize. That’s right simply moisturizing can prevent acne scarring and possibly help existing scars heal faster.

Giving credit where it’s due, this post is based on a recent article at the FutureDerm blog, great if not little design-challenged site. That article itself is based on a study published in the December 2012 issue of the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. So there is science-base to this.

Please check out the article here: Study Focus: Moisturization is Very Important for Scar and Stretch Mark Repair

Why moisturizing can help prevent acne scars?

The top layer of the skin is more than a collection of dead skin cells. It creates what’s known as the skin barrier, and this skin barrier function plays a vital role in your overall health. It protects you from UV radiation, bacteria and other pathogens and regulates moisturize. Without this skin barrier function you would lose too much water and your water-rich internal organs would wither. So let’s take a moment to appreciate it.

Damage to the skin disrupts skin barrier function and leads to excessive water loss. As the skin senses excessive water loss it initiates an inflammatory response at the skin. Sometimes the inflammatory process makes a mess of the collagen production at the skin.

Collagen is sort of the support material for your skin. The structure of the skin is made of collagen, and this structure gives your skin form. We could call it the scaffolding that holds your skin in place.

Abnormalities in collagen production and transport to the injured site can cause a scar. Too little collagen and you get a depressed scar, like ice pick scars. Too much and you get a scar that’s raised from the surface of the skin.

With this bit of background info it’s easy to see how moisturizers can help. Regularly applying moisturizer to the damaged area keeps the site hydrated and prevents (at least to a degree) excessive water loss. This takes of the inflammatory pressure in the area, which means less disruption to collagen production and transportation to the site.

Reading the review paper it looks like moisturizing is one of the most important parts in scar treatment. In fact here’s a quote from the paper:

Indeed it has recently been quoted that ‘hydration of the scar surface is the basis of action of 90% of scar management systems on the market and that most oils, lotions and creams have beneficial effects on scars primarily on the basis of their hydrative capabilities.

A review of the effects of moisturizers on the appearance of scars and striae

So yeah, keeping damaged skin hydrates seems very important. The results from several studies show good improvements in scar healing with moisturizing. The FutureDerm articles includes some pretty impressive looking before/after photos.

Now the paper didn’t discuss acne scars, it focused on larger scars and stretch marks, but the findings should be applicable also to acne scars. The paper noted better results with occlusive therapy, basically moisturizing and then covering the site to further prevent water loss.

For most acne patients covering the scarred area is not very practical. But for some back or chest acne cases covering the area with silicon gel might help.

So there you have it. One of the best reasons I can think of to start moisturizing your skin. Please let me know what you think, and be sure to subscribe for blog updates.

About Me

Hi, I am Acne Einstein(a.k.a. Seppo Puusa). I'm a bit of a science nerd who is also passionate about health. I enjoy digging through medical journals for acne treatment gems I can share here. You can read more about my journey through acne and how I eventually ended up creating this.

18 thoughts on “New Study Shows Moisturizers Can Prevent And Treat Scars”

  1. Hey there,

    I’ve been experimenting with derma stamping with a manuka honey mask follow up. I understand that stamping is best left to a professional, but I don’t imagine I’ll cause any harm. The results are tedious, though much cheaper and pain-free than any kind of laser surgery.

    Are you familiar with manuka honey and it’s topical benefits? What is your opinion?

    • Brandon,

      I have to say I wouldn’t recommend doing derma stamping at home. And if you do, then do make sure you follow sterile procedures. Otherwise you may end up just doing more damage.

      I remember sometime ago looking at studies on honey. There was a time when hospitals used honey in wound dressings, apparently it helps wound healing. Today it’s mostly replaced by more modern and effective treatments. There are also lot of anecdotal reports about using honey on acne. There is some rationale to it as it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, though I don’t remember whether it has been specifically tested for P. Acnes bacteria.

      As to whether there’s any special quality to manuka honey not found in other honeys, I can’t really say. Apparently the manuka variety has somewhat better anti-bacterial properties, but whether that makes any real world difference I have to again say that I don’t know.

      Just note that honey used in hospitals is medical grade honey, which has been sterilized. Adding honey from the jars directly to open wounds (such as from derma stamping) can cause an infection. I would advice caution.

  2. Hey,

    Fair enough, you know your stuff. I was under the impression that manuka honey was a miracle cream, but I suppose it’s actually just a decent natural topical afterall. I’ll do my best to be careful…so far I’ve been fortunate.

    Btw, I bought CFL a few years ago. I’ve been clear for over a year and was wondering how you were doing. Glad to see you’re still posting.

    • Oh, yes, I think I remember we talking before. Glad to hear you are doing well. I’m in the process of updating the book at the moment. As you can see from this new blog I’ve become much more scientific in my approach.

      Practicing what I preach here, my skin is doing well. Though anytime I get gut problems I notice a breakout a day or two later. My topical treatment keeps my face clear but I always notice a few pimples on my scalp. Not much I can do about those, just try to keep the gut working well 🙂

  3. Indeed, I e-mailed you a few times in the past. An update? I’d be interested in that. CFL changed my life and led to many new insights and oppurtunities. I remember it was winter time (3 years ago around this time), and I was feeling very motivated to make lots of resourceful habit changes in the upcoming year…and I did!

    I’ll admit that I’ve gotten kind of lazy lately, so I think I’ll give CFL a re-read to recapture that momentum. But yea, stoked to hear you’re still studying, experimenting, writing and working on new products.

    • This version will be quite different from the earlier versions. In that it’s much more science-based than the earlier versions. Looks like the reference list alone will be about 50 pages. The message will not be drastically different, just more refined and credible. I also now have a solid framework that helps to understand acne and why the different suggestions work. Hopefully that motivates people.

      I’ll email my current customers once the update is done. This time I’ll also turn it into a print and ebook version for Kindle and other common e-readers.

  4. But what moisturizer to use?

    There is so much information out there that says using chemicals on your face is actually bad for the skin because it destroys the skins natural ph level and clog pores and so forth.

    • Much like there’s an alternative side to health, there’s also an alternative side to cosmetics and beauty products. There’s a lot of baseless fear mongering regarding chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products. Most of it is just that, baseless fear mongering.

      It’s true that some chemicals can cause problems for some people, but it’s far less frequent as the ‘chemical free’ promoters want you to believe. Most cosmetics formulations are tested for irritation and side-effects before they are released on the market, especially products coming from bigger brands.

      At the end of the day even natural products are chemicals, so trying to get rid of chemicals makes no sense. There are also plenty of irritating natural substances. My advice is not to pay too much attention to the fear mongering.

      As to what moisturiser to use, it depends on what you need. I use this one: Madre Labs, Camellia Care, EGCG Green Tea Skin Cream. My skin is a bit oily, so that’s a very light moisturizer. If your skin is on the dry side, you may need something a bit heavier.

  5. So in sense, it is possible to cure acne scars without laser treatment and all that?

    What is your opinion on laser treatments anyway?

    • No, you are reading too much into this. Moisturizers may prevent abnormal formation of skin structure after a pimple and thus prevent scarring, but once a scar has formed moisturizers aren’t going to fix it. I haven’t looked in detail into lasers, but occasionally I see papers showing they are reasonable good for repairing acne scars.

  6. Hello Seppo,

    Are you still using: Madre Labs, Camellia Care, EGCG Green Tea Skin Cream, 1.7 fl oz Today? If so, morning or evening? Do you recommend something with SPF?

    • I’m not using that anymore. I’ve been using a B3 moisturizer from Bee Naturals, but honestly speaking I can’t recommend that. They seem to have some issues with their formula. The last bottle I got has white flakes in the bottle, perhaps some of the ingredients have separated from the formulation. There’s also inconsistency in the color from bottle to bottle, which makes me doubt how professional they are. I’m just looking for another product to replace that.

      I have nothing against the green tea cream. I was happy with it. I just switched since there’s more evidence to support vitamin B3 and some vitamin C derivatives.

  7. What about oils? Non comedogenic oils such as Jojoba – 2 and Hemp – 0? (0 being completely noncomedogenic and 10 being extremely comedogenic (completely blocks pores)

    ‘Indeed it has recently been quoted that ‘hydration of the scar surface is the basis of action of 90% of scar management systems on the market and that most oils, lotions and creams have beneficial effects on scars primarily on the basis of their hydrative capabilities’

    I guess as long and the wound is hydrated/moisturized then it will have a much lesser chance of scarring..

    • Oils can also work. Basically they work a bit like moisturizers that they seal the surface of the skin and prevent water loss. In that way they help to keep the skin hydrated. Moisturizers still do a better job at it since they also have ingredients that bind moisture in to the skin.

  8. Hi, Seppo. 🙂

    Would you know if moisturizing is a good way to treat post inflammatory hyperpigmentation(PIH)?

    • I don’t think moisturizer will have much effect on PIH. You’ll want to use something with a fairly high concentration of vitamin C, B3 or retinol. There are a handful of other ingredients that also work, but I don’t have them on the top of my mind now. Just be warned that it’s going to take several months to get results.

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