best oil for scars after surgery

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Essential oils and skin health

Essential oils may help reduce the appearance of scars. They work by regenerating the skin cells of damaged skin. There are also other oils that can improve the appearance of scars and improve skin health.

Essential oils support skin health by:

  • balancing skin tone
  • reducing redness
  • reducing inflammation

Some oils also have wound-healing properties, which may help prevent scar tissue from forming. You can experiment to see which oils — or combination of oils — bring you the best results and if used correctly presents little risk.

Essential oils that may reduce the appearance of scars

1. Helichrysum essential oil

Helichrysum essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that may be useful in healing skin.

Helichrysum essential oil contains an anti-inflammatory substance called arzanol, which plays a part in healing wounds.

It also has antioxidant properties that can help to prevent scarring by regenerating new cells and preventing the accumulation of free radicals. This oil is also said to:

  • relieve skin rashes
  • relieve infections
  • increase collagen production

You may begin to see results within a few months of consistent daily use. Helichrysum essential oil may cause sun sensitivity. Don’t use this oil if you’ve recently had surgery or are at risk for internal hemorrhaging.

Helichrysum may be more expensive than some of the other options, so you may want to start with a smaller jar to see if you like the oil before buying it in larger quantities. You can purchase it online or at your local natural foods store.

2. Frankincense essential oil

Frankincense essential oil helps to:

  • soothe skin
  • even out skin tone
  • kill bacteria

These characteristics make it useful for treating scars. Frankincense essential oil:

Also, the active ingredient in Frankincense, boswellic acidTrusted Source, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits.

You may start to see results after a month of using frankincense essential oil.

This essential oil may cause skin irritation and abdominal issues. Do not use frankincense oil if you take blood thinners.

Frankincense is a mid-range essential oil and may be purchased online.

3. Geranium essential oil

Geranium oil is useful in treating scars by:

  • relieving inflammation
  • evening out skin tone
  • encouraging new cell growth

Its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial wound-healing properties may help make scars less visible. In 2013, research found that rose geranium oil is effective in preventing and treating inflammatory skin conditions.

It may take at least a month to see results with geranium oil.

Use geranium oil with caution if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Geranium essential oil is inexpensive and may be purchased online.

4. Lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil may help to prevent scarring by promoting cell and tissue growth. It has antibiotic, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties.

According to a 2016 studyTrusted Source, lavender oil demonstrates wound-healing activity and shows potential for use as a natural treatment to help repair damaged skin tissues.

Another 2016 study found that lavender essential oil promotes wound healing by increasing collagen and regenerating tissue, especially in the early phase of treatment. Topical application of lavender oil helped to speed up wound closure and promoted wound shrinking.

You may see results in as little as one week. Lavender is especially useful in the beginning phase of scar treatment.

It has the potential to irritate the skin and cause allergic skin reactions.

Lavender is a mid-range essential oil that is available online.

5. Carrot seed essential oil

Carrot seed essential oil has been shownTrusted Source to have antibacterial and antifungal activities which could be useful in treating scars. This oil may be especially useful in treating older scars.

It may take up to a month before you see results from using carrot seed essential oil. Carrot seed essential oil is inexpensive and may be purchased online.

6. Cedar wood essential oil

The rejuvenating effect of cedar wood oil shows potential in treating skin conditions including scars. It has been shownTrusted Source to reduce inflammation and to provide a pain-relieving effect.

Cedar wood oil is also useful in treating acne. More research is needed to confirm and expand upon these findings.

You may start to see results after a month of consistent use. Cedar wood essential has the potential to cause allergic reactions.

Cedar wood essential oil is an affordable option and is available for purchase online.

7. Hyssop essential oil

Hyssop essential oil has antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that aid in repairing damaged skin. Hyssop oil has been shown to have antimicrobialTrusted Source activity. It may help:

  • heal wounds
  • prevent infections
  • reduce the visibility of wrinkles and acne scars

Research published in 2011 suggests that the antioxidant activity of hyssop oil shows potential for medicinal use. Further research is needed to expand upon these findings and find out exactly how hyssop can help to treat scars.

Use hyssop oil consistently for a few months to see results. Do not use hyssop oil if you have epilepsy or hypertension. It should not be used in high doses.

Hyssop is a mid-range essential oil that you can buy online.

8. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has enormous healing potential due to its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. The antioxidant and antimicrobial activityTrusted Source of tea tree oil may accelerate the wound-healing process.

It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s ability to boost immunity is helpful when you’re caring for wounds and scars.

In 2015, researchTrusted Source indicated that tea tree is a promising option to topically treat inflammatory disorders and heal wounds. Tea tree is available as an essential oil and comes already diluted.

It may take up to a month of consistent use before you see results using tea tree oil. Use tea tree oil with caution if you have any allergies or autoimmune conditions. It has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. Tea tree oil may not be appropriate for use in children.

Tea tree essential oil is relatively inexpensive and is available for purchase online.

9. Neroli essential oil

Neroli essential oil is used for a variety of skincare conditions. It’s useful in treating scars. Neroli oil has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation.

Its antimicrobial and antioxidant propertiesTrusted Source make it a powerful healer. It also has antifungal properties. More research is needed to discover how neroli oil can be used to treat skin conditions and scars.

You may see results after a month of consistent use of neroli oil. It has the potential to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.

Neroli oil is one of the more expensive essential oils and can be purchased online.

Other oils that may reduce the appearance of scars

10. Rosehip seed oil

Rosehip seed oil may be used to:

  • improve the condition of your skin
  • treat scars
  • treat wrinkles
  • treat acne

In a 2015 study, researchers found that rosehip seed oil improved the appearance of post-surgical scars. Participants who used the oil twice daily for 12 weeks experienced significantly less discoloration, atrophy, and redness.

You may start to see results after six weeks of use. It’s possible for rosehip oil to cause irritation or an allergic reaction. Do not use if you have diabeteskidney stones, or anemia.

Rosehip seed oil is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online. It can be used as a carrier oil for essential oils.

11. Vitamin E oil

Vitamin E oil may prevent scarring by helping your skin to retain moisture while boosting collagen production. It also helps to protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Research demonstrating the effectiveness of vitamin E oil in treating scars has been mixed. A few studies have shown it to significantly improve the cosmetic appearance of scars. Additional research is needed.

You may start to notice results after a few weeks of use, but you can continue to use vitamin E for a few months. Vitamin E may cause an allergic reaction, rash, or itchiness. Vitamin E oil is an affordable option that’s available online.

12. Almond oil

Almond oil has numerous benefits to the skin and may help to reduce the appearance of scars. Almond oil contains vitamin E, which helps hydrate, soothe, and moisturize dry or damaged skin.

There’s some evidence that almond oil can:

  • rejuvenate the skin
  • improve complexion
  • even out skin tone

It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help skin to heal. More research is needed to understand its potential in healing scars. It has been found to reduce the formation of stretch marks and reduce itching.

You may start to see results after a month of using almond oil. Don’t use almond oil if you have diabetes. Avoid use for two weeks before any scheduled surgery. Almond oils are often used as carrier oils for essential oils.

Almond oil is an affordable option that’s available online.

13. Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains fatty acids and micronutrients that may help to reverse skin damage, heal skin disorders, and moisturize. It’s a highly respected moisturizer.

Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to prevent and heal skin conditions. Coconut oil may also:

  • increase collagen production
  • help the skin to retain moisture
  • soften the skin

Research published in 2010 found that topical application of coconut oil on wounds in rats had a positive effect on the healing process. This was due in part to its antioxidant activity and effect on collagen production.

2019 study found coconut oil to protect skin cells from inflammation in the lab, and this is important step in understanding how the action works.

You may notice results after as little as 10 days of consistent use. Coconut oil has the potential to irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction. It’s an affordable option that’s available online.

Summary of the different oils

OilLength of use to start seeing resultsAdditional benefits
Rosehip seed oil6 weeksmay improve wrinkles and acne
Vitamin E oil3 or more weeksmay boost collagen production
Helichrysum essential oil3 or more monthsanti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties
Frankincense essential oil1 monthmay improve skin tone and kill bacteria
Geranium essential oil1 or more monthsantibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
Lavender essential oil1 weekantibiotic, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties
Carrot seed essential oil1 monthantibacterial and antifungal properties
Cedar wood essential oil1 monthanti-inflammatory and analgesic properties; may treat acne
Hyssop essential oil3 or more monthsmay help heal wounds, prevent infections, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars
Coconut oil10 daysmay soften the skin and reduce inflammation
Tea tree essential oil1 monthantiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties
Almond oil1 monthcontains vitamin E; may soothe and moisturize skin
Neroli essential oil1 monthmay reduce pain and inflammation

How to use essential oils

Some of the oils presented here are not essential oils and do not need to be diluted.

Essential oils should always be diluted before being applied topically to the affected area. They can irritate your skin if used in an undiluted state. Also, you should never ingest essential oils.

Essential oils must be diluted in oils called carrier oils. You can test a few carrier oils to see which ones work best for your skin and which scent you prefer. Some carrier oils you may use are:

  • grapeseed oil
  • avocado oil
  • sweet almond oil
  • olive oil
  • apricot kernel oil
  • jojoba oil
  • hazelnut oil

Do not use oils on:

  • an open wound
  • burn
  • skin that’s extremely sensitive

Inflamed skin is more likely to react to the oils. Serious wounds may require medical attention. In this case, you should see your doctor to see if another treatment is necessary.

To use essential oils:

  • Dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a carrier oil. You can use fewer drops of essential oil for sensitive skin.
  • Apply this mixture to the affected area several times per day.
  • You don’t need to wash off the oil. Bathe how you normally would, following your regular schedule.
  • You’ll get best results if you constantly apply the oils for at least a few months.
  • It may take up to a year for a scar to completely heal.

Tips for buying oil

Look for pure, organic essential oils that are 100 percent therapeutic-grade. They shouldn’t contain any additives. Find a reputable brand that you trust. The company should be upfront about their practices and be able to answer any questions you may have.

High-quality oils are less likely to create an adverse response and are more likely to generate the best results.

Essential oils and pregnancy

Always talk to your doctor before using essential oils for any reason if you’re pregnant. Certain essential oils should be avoided if you’re pregnant. This page contains a list of essential oils that are safe to use during pregnancy.

How to use essential oils for scars

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Some people use certain essential oils — such as Helichrysum, lavender, or tea tree oils — on the skin to promote wound healing and reduce the appearance of scars.

While there has been little research into the effects of essential oils on scars, these oils may be helpful complements to traditional treatments.

This article investigates which essential oils may help with scarring, how to use them, and the evidence for their effectiveness.

Can essential oils help with scars?

Helichrysum which can be an Essential oil for scars
Helichrysum oil may help kill bacteria in a wound.

Essential oils are made from plants, and each oil has a different chemical makeup.

Aromatherapists and other practitioners of alternative medicine use these oils to treat a range of health issues. The issues could be physical, such as joint pain or nausea. Or, as in the case of stress or anxiety, the issues could relate to mental and emotional health.

Scars typically form when an injury penetrates past the first layer of skin. Scars can be sunken or raised, and they may be pink at first. After it heals, a scar usually looks darker or lighter than the skin around it.

Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties — or sometimes both. Keeping infection and inflammation at bay can help wounds heal and improve skin health overall.

Using essential oils while a wound is healing may help minimize any scarring. However, older scars are much harder to treat, and it may not be possible to make them less visible. Many scars fade over time with exposure to sunlight.

Use essential oils with care, as they can interact with medications and other remedies, and they may cause side effects. Essential oils are generally not safe to use during pregnancy.

Below, we look at the research into the effects of popular essential oils for scars and wound healing.

Helichrysum

There are more than 600 species of flowering plants in the Helichrysum genus, but the essential oil is known simply as Helichrysum oil.

These plants grow in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy and Spain, and many practitioners of traditional medicine in the region make use of the plants’ flowers and leaves.

Research in the laboratory indicates that one species, Helichrysum italicum, may have antimicrobial properties, meaning that it may kill microorganisms, such as bacteria. This could prevent infection and encourage wound healing, potentially resulting in less scarring.

The findings of other laboratory-based studies indicate that Helichrysum italicum may combat inflammation. An inflamed or irritated wound is slower to heal and may leave a worse scar.

Lavender

a bottle of Lavender oil.
A person may find that lavender oil improves their sleep.

People commonly use lavender essential oil to promote calmness and encourage sleep. The oil comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use lavender to treat wounds and skin conditions. A 2016 studyTrusted Source in rats suggested that lavender oil could promote healing.

When applied to a wound, the essential oil seemed to encourage new tissue to grow.

Geranium

Manufacturers produce essential oil from the leaves of this flowering shrub. Some people use geranium oil to treat anxiety and stress, as well as skin disorders, such as eczema.

Some research indicates that geranium oil has antibacterial properties, meaning that it may help keep wounds clean and encourage healing, which can help prevent or reduce scarring.

Chamomile

Healers in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt used chamomile as a medicinal herb. Today, it is a common ingredient in herbal teas, creams, and essential oil blends.

Some practitioners of alternative medicine use chamomile to treat anxiety, stomach problems, and skin conditions.

Like other essential oils, chamomile may help stop microbes from entering a wound. Researchers have also found that chamomile may promote wound healing and reduce inflammation.MEDICAL NEWS TODAY NEWSLETTERKnowledge is power. Get our free daily newsletter.

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Tea tree

Tea tree oil is one of the most widely used essential oils. Manufacturers use steam to distill the oil from tea tree leaves.

Only apply tea tree oil to the skin — do not swallow it.

Tea tree oil may help support the immune system. A healthy immune system is better at healing injuries, which could result in reduced scarring.

Researchers have also long recognized the antimicrobial and antifungal effects of tea tree oil, which can help prevent infection in healing skin.

How to use essential oils

a woman applying oil to her skin.
A person should dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.

Use essential oils with care, as they can irritate the skin, interact with medications and other remedies, and cause other side effects.

To help wounds heal and prevent scars, apply the essential oil directly to the skin. However, make sure to dilute it first.

Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil. Below are common examples of carrier oils, with links to where they can be purchased online:

Adding 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil results in 2.5% dilution, which is effective for adults. If a person wishes, they can strengthen the solution, up to 10% dilution. This involves 60 drops of essential oil for every 1 ounce of carrier oil.

Learn more about carrier oils here.

Before using the blend of oils, mix it thoroughly. Thicker carrier oils, such as coconut oil, may need to be warmed slightly before it will mix well. Allow the mixture to cool before applying it to the skin.

Test the diluted essential oil mixture on a small patch of unbroken skin and leave it on for 24 hours. If the oil does not cause any irritation, it should be safe to use.

Apply a thin layer of the mixture to a scar or around a healing wound. Repeat the application as often as necessary, and stop using it if any irritation occurs.

Do not let undiluted essential oil touch the skin. Also, some oils can be dangerous to children, pregnant women, and pets, so it is important to consider others when using these remedies.

Takeaway

Scars may not disappear completely. But the likelihood that they’ll be less noticeable or visible following consistent use of oils and essential oils is promising.

Don’t expect immediate or drastic results. It may take up to six months before you begin noticing any changes to your scar. Larger scars from surgery or wounds may take longer to heal.

Experiment with a few different oils to discover which one works best for you. You may discover that the aromatic qualities of essential oils are equally beneficial to your well-being. Always talk to your doctor before starting to use essential oils.

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