August 21, 2020

Coconut oil has grown in popularity over the last few years, with various sources claiming that it can do everything from improving heart health to boosting brain function for people with Alzheimer’s. 

The oil is widely available in packaged products, and you have probably used it at some point for cooking at home. Many other products, such as smoothies, coffee, shampoos, sweets, and some of your favorite fried foods are also prepared with coconut oil. 

Studies have shown that the unique blend of fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly improve your health. But perhaps one of the lesser-known benefits of coconut oil is its ability to help scars heal faster. Here is a beginner’s guide to coconut oil for scars if you are looking to get started.

Does Coconut Oil Help with Scars?

It’s the go-to beauty treatment in Hollywood, endorsed by A-star celebrities like Emma Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow, but what does the research say about coconut oil for scars? 

Most of the study, which revolves around wounds and dermatitis, has shown that coconut oil helps treat scars by forming a thick, moisturizing layer on the affected area. 

The oil is effective because it penetrates deeply, acting as a defense barrier against free radicals and environmental damage. This barrier, in effect, helps speed up the healing process and prevents new scars from forming. 

The most significant impact of coconut oil is said to be its capacity to increase the production of collagen. More collagen helps with fine lines and can reduce scarring by binding together new skin tissue. 

Coconut oil may also give you a more even skin tone, which could help reverse the redness left by scars. 

Most of these benefits are associated with high levels of vitamin E in coconut oil. Vitamin E, an essential antioxidant, is particularly praised for its tendency to accelerate the recovery of burns, skin abrasions, and other trauma. 

It is recommendable to regularly use coconut oil if you suffer from eczema and psoriasis, as the oil soothes your skin and helps alleviate the scars. Pregnant women are also advised to use the oil during pregnancy because it keeps your skin nourished and post-delivery to lessen the scars.


Which Type of Scars Does Coconut Oil Treat?

There are various kinds of applications for coconut oil for scar: 


Coconut Oil for Acne Scars 

Acne is one of the most common skin diseases, affecting about 8 out of 10 people at one point in their lives. Although it mostly appears in teenagers, acne can also affect adults at any age. Thanks to its many health benefits, some people have turned to coconut oil for treating acne scars. 

Acne scars typically develop after a breakout, when collagen fibers around the pore break down. The most common types include rolling scars, boxcar, and ice pick. Coconut oil for acne scars helps by boosting collagen and repairing the skin. You can also use the oil to remove dark spots that remain after a breakout. 

Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which have potent antimicrobial properties. About 50 percent of these MCFAs are what is referred to as lauric acid. Lauric acid is effective against harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi in your body, and it can kill P. acnes on its own. 


Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks 


When your skin shrinks or stretches too quickly, the elastin and collagen that support your skin may rupture. As your body tries to repair itself, you may develop stretch marks. Using coconut oil can help treat these stretch marks.

Stretch marks are usually common during:

  • Pregnancy
  • Growth spurts that occur in adolescence
  • Weight training in the event of rapid muscle growth
  • Rapid weight gain or loss 

The use of coconut oil for stretch marks relies on its anti-inflammatory properties, which help speed up the healing process. The oil can also help to ease the itching that appears when you have stretch marks. 

The topical application of coconut oil can go a long way towards preventing the onset of stretch marks. Due to its highly emollient nature, coconut oil can help keep your skin hydrated, making it more elastic and less vulnerable to stretch marks. The presence of lauric acid makes it easy to penetrate deep into the layers of your skin, stimulating the production of collagen. 


Coconut Oil for Atrophic Scars 

Atrophic scars are generally irregular scars that heal below the upper skin layer when your skin fails to regenerate tissue, leaving behind an indented mark. Atrophic scars usually develop when you have a severe case of chickenpox or acne, but they can also appear after getting rid of a mole. The three main types of atrophic scars are: 

  • Rolling scars – these scars typically develop on the cheeks and do not have distinct edges 
  • Boxcar scars – these resemble chickenpox scars and are characterized by defined borders and flat bottoms
  • Ice pick scars – these are small and narrow scars that look like deep pores 

Coconut oil may help treat atrophic scars by triggering the secretion of more collagen in your skin. The increased collagen levels help by evening out the indented marks in your skin. 


Coconut Oil for Surgical Scars 


Scars after surgery are like the consequences of cheating on your partner and being found out – they are both inevitable. Making an incision on your skin is bound to leave scars behind regardless of how skilled your surgeon is, as it typically involves cutting through all the skin layers. 

While there are several cosmetic procedures used to reduce extreme scarring, most surgical scars can be combated with the simple use of coconut oil. Research has shown that coconut oil can help improve the healing process due to its ability to increase the rate of collagen production. 

Its high vitamin E content has also been praised for the oil’s anti-scarring properties, as studies suggest that vitamin E is especially useful in preventing the formation of keloid scars after surgery. 


Coconut Oil and Hypertrophic Scars 

 A hypertrophic scar is a thick, wide, usually swollen scar that forms when you injure your skin. Unlike regular scars that occur when a wound is healing, hypertrophic scars are caused by an abnormal response to an injury or trauma. 

In some cases, body cells known as myofibroblasts release excess collagen during the healing process. Sometimes this happens simply because of your skin type, but mostly it’s a result of the wound being inflamed or infected or subjected to severe motion or tension. 

Coconut oil is effective in treating hypertrophic scars as it’s packed with anti-inflammatory properties, which helps relieve inflammation and pain associated with these scars. 


Coconut Oil for Keloid Scars

A keloid is a scar that forms on the skin when it is damaged and then grows beyond the original injury. Keloids occur primarily on the face, earlobes, back & upper chest, shoulder, and breastbone, typically after a burn, piercing, surgery cut, acne, or chickenpox. Thick tissue develops as the skin heals, expanding the scar much over and above the initial wound. 

While they don’t turn into cancer, keloids can be painful or bothersome enough to require treatment. It is possible to use coconut oil for keloid scars, as the vitamin E in the oil can help prevent the scars from forming after surgery.


Coconut Oil for Contracture Scars 


Contracture scars are a result of a traumatic injury. Apart from their weird appearance, the affected area can be excruciatingly painful. In most cases, you can treat contracture scars with surgical procedures such as skin grafting. 

However, you can still use coconut oil to reduce scarring after a traumatic injury. The vitamin E in coconut oil helps boost collagen production while helping your skin to retain moisture. The oil is also effective against free radicals that can cause damage to your skin. 


How to Use Coconut Oil for Scars: The Process 

Coconut oil is readily available over the counter, both as an ingredient and in its natural form. The most effective way to use coconut oil for treating scars is to apply it two or more times per day. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product for the right dosage. 

It is advisable to conduct a patch test before using the oil to determine whether you are sensitive to it: 

  • Apply a small sample on your forearm 
  • Place a bandage over the area. 
  • Wait for up to 24 hours for any signs of inflammation or irritation. If there are none, you may proceed to use the product on the affected area.

Experts typically recommend wearing sunscreen every day, whether using the coconut oil in its natural state or as a part of a product. Applying sunscreen will help prevent sun damage and keep your scars from becoming dark and more noticeable. 


Key Takeaway

While coconut oil is widely regarded as a natural product, it can be just as potent as regular cosmetics. As such, it is always good to consult with your dermatologist before using coconut oil for scars. 

If you do decide to apply the oil, watch out for any unusual symptoms. Discontinue using immediately in case of any signs of irritation and visit your doctor if the symptoms persist. If you see no results after prolonged use, try other treatment methods like silicone gel or laser treatment, and more.