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Does onion extract really fade scars and stretch marks

August 13, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 18 Comments

An email from a reader prompted me to look into onion extract and whether it can really fade scars and stretch marks, as well as be generally therapeutic for the skin. He has been using a scar-fading gel called Mederma, which has onion extract and not much else. Amusingly he also mentioned that Ninon de L'Enclos, the seventeenth-century French courtesan and wit, was supposedly still breaking hearts at ninety, thanks to a balm of lard, beeswax and onion juice.  Let’s hope she wiped it off before getting up close and personal.

But aside from a personal anecdote and an appealing myth, is there any hard evidence that onion extract will fade scars and stretch marks? The short answer is no. And what's more, you'd be better off using petroleum jelly than Mederma.

In 2001, a study showed that onion extract used on rabbit ear scars improved collagen organization but didn't lead to a difference in scar appearance.  Other studies have shown that onion extract is no better at healing than petroleum jelly. And one study even used Mederma itself in a side-by-side, randomized, double-blinded, split-scar study. It concluded that “the onion extract gel did not improve scar cosmesis or symptomatology when compared with a petrolatum-based ointment.”

The best redemption of the onion that I could find was research that had success – albeit limited – with onion extract on hypertrophic and keloid scars (keloids are the result of an overgrowth of dense fibrous tissue that usually develops after healing of a skin injury). It helped fade the color, but not the height of the scar.

Now I can see why some scar treatment makers, such as Invicible, go out of their way to say they don’t use onion extract.

Ingredients in Mederma Gel

Water (Purified), PEG-4, Allium Cepa (Onion) Bulb Extract, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid

  • November 30, 2017

    by Svetlana

    Before I got pregnant I was a stick witha flat tummy and after I became a curvy figure women. During the process, my belly grew too fast and got hideous deep red, purple stretch marks. I started hating my body. So I started working out and I started to slim down but those stretchmarks stood, darker than ever. So I took a leap of faith and got dermelastic stretch mark serum. I started using it twice a day so far for 2 weeks and they are white and my skin is actually getting a little tone. I am defiantly going to be getting this again.

  • October 3, 2017

    by Wesley

    I have ugly red/purple stretch marks so I started using dermelastic serum for them a few days ago and was amazed at what it did just the first night making my stretch marks visibly lighter and smaller. I cannot really tell what it does for older stretch marks, however. It's easy to apply anytime and does not smell bad.

  • March 24, 2016

    by Marta

    Hi Sirjana, take a look at our Five Best recommendations for dark spots and hyperpigmentation:

  • March 24, 2016

    by sirjana

    I have large pores on my face and recently I went under laser treatment but its still visible and now I am getting pigmentation so I am just confuse what and how should I get rid of this. Is it good to apply onion juice directly on affected areas? Is it safe? Can anyone suggest me-how to get rid of pores and pigmentation.

  • July 16, 2015

    by Violet

    I bought Dr. Sheffields Scar Gel and put it on pink scars on the back of my hands. They are all gone except one that has a hardened top on it. Looks like it is sloughing off. Had super small dry spots of broken skin on forehead that wouldn't heal for years. Put Dr. Sheffields Scar Gel on them. It made them burn, sting, and itch like crazy. They've almost disappeared in 3 days and I've had those spots for years !!!

  • September 14, 2014

    by Pete

    I need a fruit that can really clean scars cos ive got much scars on my face

  • September 1, 2014

    by Toni

    I had a huge scrape on my leg from a fall, I applied vitamin E oil to it every day every chance I got. NO SCAR whatsoever. That stuff works.

  • May 17, 2014

    by Christian

    What can I used to get rid of Dark circular Spread Scar within a week.?
    Thank you

  • November 3, 2013

    by Al

    I am a 75 year old male, Caucasian. Due to severe arthritis I recently had my knees replaced. One in March 2013 and one in May 2013. On the advice of a neighbor I bought some Dr. Sheffields SCAR GEL at the local dollar store. As soon as the bandages were removed I began applying this to the wound. Within weeks the scars had almost disappeared. At the same time several of my senior friends had the same knee replacements. Their scars are still red and very apparent. Now after five months many people don't believe I had this done this year.
    At the same time I applied SCAR GEL to a knotted and itching scar from a spider bite that had bugged me for about seven years. It went through a sloughing process and the knot popped out in about two months, then the scar has healed and no longer itches or looks ugly.
    Scar gel has red onion extract and aloe in it. It can be bought at most dollar type stores. Al

  • February 13, 2013

    by juan sebastian

    just look it !!!! it is a scientifical study.

  • May 27, 2012

    by Lukas

    I have heard that combination of minth and welded lard would sucessfuly fade your new scars. I havent still figured it out wheter it works, but in my country there have appered many positive new about it. But I am about to buy contractubex and strataderm gel. Do you have some good experiences on it? If I consider to buy it so hope it wont be a waste of money.

  • September 29, 2011

    by Rose

    By the way, I don't sell Contractubex on Ebay. My scar and keloid has disappeared forever which has been 5 yrs ago. Have a great day!

  • September 29, 2011

    by Rose

    I have a personal experience using Contractubex, a gel from onion extract. It worked very well and effective in elliminating my keloid forming under my eyelid after an eye surgery. I've used many products before it and it was the only treatment that worked. You just have to be religious in applying the gel to the area. It's a miracle gel for me! You can find it on ebay in different sizes tube. Thanks.

  • June 17, 2011

    by Prentonia

    I have been using the new Mederma Stretch Mark Lotion its $40 a tube and especially made for stretch mark i used faithfully for almost 5months I can't say i see much different. Also i bought the Mederma Scar Gel on my surgical cuts and so far its a no show result. A waste of money both are.

  • September 9, 2010

    by Junko

    Candice * new or old scars? Flat or hypertrophic. I have some 70,000 IU oil, but haven't used it consistently yet.

  • September 9, 2010

    by Candice

    What about Vitamin E in a higher dose rubbed on scars to help their appearance? It worked for me.

  • August 17, 2010

    by Luka

    Silicone based products, like Invicible, Strataderm, Kelo-cote, Dermatix are a much better option when it comes to scar treatment and abnormal scar prevention.

    The International Clinical Recommendations on Scar Management (2002) recommend silicone as a safe and effective management option for hypertrophic scars and keloids.

  • August 13, 2010

    by Junko

    I tried Mederma about 5 years ago on my scars. I'd say Marta that your research and article is correct. Mederma was a waste of time and money as it had no effect whatsoever on my scars.

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