Silicone cream for scars is the only working over-the-counter product that is backed by science.
Since it’s introduction in 1982 various studies have validated claims made by manufacturers on its effectiveness. (Links to research abstracts at the bottom of this article.)
What Exactly Is In These Silicone Creams?
There are numerous formulations available on the consumer market. Creams, gels, and ointments that entirely consist of silicones as well as products that have additional ingredients in them.
The silicones are so called polydimethylsiloxone polymers, also referred to as dimethicones and are reviewed and approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration).
Do They Work On All Types Of Scar Tissue?
No unfortunately they don’t. Silicones work mostly on hypertrophic (enlarged) scars. These are scars that are raised, discolored, may itch or be painful. They are the result of an overproduction of collagen. Most commonly caused by injuries, burns, or surgery.
Sometimes keloids (overgrown) may be reduced with silicone cream as well. There is however a much lower success rate since keloids are very hard to get rid of.
A major benefit of silicones is that they prevent development of such excessive scar tissue when used in an early stage. Application should most ideally be started as soon as the wound has healed.
How Will They Improve My Scar?
Research as well as a few decades of user experiences have demonstrated that silicone cream for scars:
- reduces scar redness
- flattens raised scars
- makes scars softer and more elastic (pliable)
- relieves pain and itching
- actually works on diminishing and preventing hypertrophic scars
- prevents keloids from developing and may help getting rid of keloids
Since its introduction in 1982, topical silicone gel sheeting and ointment have been used widely to minimize the size, induration, erythema, pruritus, and extensibility of pre-existing hypertrophic scars and to prevent the formation of new ones. (1)
How Does Silicone Cream For Scars Work?
Once the ointment is applied (generally from a tube) it takes a few minutes maximum to dry after which it forms a thin film over the just healed wound or older scar. This (semi-)occlusive cover has an extensibility similar to that of skin.
How it exactly works is not entirely clear but it is hypothesized that this occlusion provided by the thin film increases hydration in the skin.
Silicones have an evaporative water loss almost half that of skin and have been compared with the stratum corneum. (1)
The silicones are thought to mimic the occlusive barrier function of healthy skin. This is important since damaged skin tends to lose water more easily. On its turn this hydration affects the epidermal and dermal cell behavior.
Most researchers believe that silicone acts by creating a hydrated, occluded environment that decreases capillary activity, thereby reducing fibroblast-induced collagen deposition and scar hypertrophy. (1)
1. Topical treatments for hypertrophic scars. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – Volume 55, Issue 6 (December 2006)