Does Mederma Cream Make Scars Less Noticeable?

Scar on wrist, close up
Ebby May/Getty Images

If you have a scar on some part of your skin—such as an acne scar, a surgery scar, a burn scar, or a scar from a cut—you might feel embarrassed by it. This may be especially true if it's on an area of skin that tends to be exposed. Perhaps you think it looks unsightly or maybe you're simply tired of explaining what it is when people ask you about it.

If the scar is negatively affecting your level of self-confidence, you may be wondering whether you should try using the over-the-counter topical cream Mederma, which claims to improve the overall appearance, softness, and texture of scars if applied via gentle massage three times a day for eight weeks on new scars and three to six months on old scars.

Mederma is safe for those ages 6 months or older. It's not meant for open wounds—it should be used only when a wound is closed and either the scab falls off or the stitches are removed. It also contains an SPF of 30 for protection against damaging ultraviolet rays. 

(Other products in the Mederma "scar care" line include Mederma Quick Dry Oil, Mederma Advanced Scar Gel, Mederma PM Intensive Overnight Cream, and Mederma for Kids.)

But is it worth the money? Will Mederma scar cream help your scar become less noticeable? Despite what all the commercials say, Mederma is not any better than petroleum jelly for improving the appearance of scars.

Pros

  • Safe for ages 6 months and up

  • It won't make the scar worse.

Cons

  • It's expensive compared with petroleum jelly.

  • It's promoted by an extensive marketing campaign that's not backed by science.

  • It's time intensive. The manufacturer recommends applying the cream three times a day for eight weeks on new scars and for three to six months on old scars.

Description

  • The active ingredient is Allium cepa or onion extract.
  • Onion extract has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and improve the collagen organization in a rabbit ear model.
  • There are no human studies that show onion extract improves the appearance of scars more than petroleum-based ointments.

Product Review

Scars form on the skin through a three-stage process and this process can last up to two years after an injury. Many scientists are studying this wound-healing process in an attempt to find something that will make scars less visible. It is widely recognized that moist wounds heal 50% faster than wounds that dry out and develop a scab.

In 2002, a study showed that onion extract used on rabbit ear scars improved collagen organization but didn't lead to a difference in scar appearance. So far, there have been three major controlled clinical studies in the United States evaluating the effect of onion extract on human wound healing. In all three, scars treated with onion extract did not show any improvement compared with scars treated with petroleum-based ointments. In fact, one study found that scars treated with Mederma did not improve scar appearance any better than those treated with Aquaphor.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Draelos ZD, Baumann L, Fleischer AB Jr, Plaum S, Avakian EV, Hardas B. A new proprietary onion extract gel improves the appearance of new scars: a randomized, controlled, blinded-investigator study. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(6):18-24.

  2. Karppinen S-M, Heljasvaara R, Gullberg D, Tasanen K, Pihlajaniemi T. Toward understanding scarless skin wound healing and pathological scarring. F1000Res. 2019;8. doi:10.12688/f1000research.18293.1

  3. Winter GD. Formation of the scab and the rate of epithelization of superficial wounds in the skin of the young domestic pig. Nature. 1962;193:293-294. doi:10.1038/193293a0

  4. Junker JPE, Kamel RA, Caterson EJ, Eriksson E. Clinical Impact Upon Wound Healing and Inflammation in Moist, Wet, and Dry Environments. Adv Wound Care. 2013;2(7):348-356. doi:10.1089/wound.2012.0412

  5. Chung VQ, Kelley L, Marra D, Jiang SB. Onion extract gel versus petrolatum emollient on new surgical scars: prospective double-blinded study. Dermatol Surg. 2006;32(2):193-197. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2006.32045.x

  6. Draelos ZD. The ability of onion extract gel to improve the cosmetic appearance of postsurgical scars. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008;7(2):101-104. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00371.x

Additional Reading