The effect of moisturizers or creams on scars: A systematic review

Ms Tanja Klotz1,2, Mr  Zachary Munn2, Mr  John E. Greenwood1, Mr  Eduardo Aromataris2

1Adult Burn Service, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia, 2The Joanna Briggs Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia


The author previously surveyed burn therapists across Australia, Canada and the United States of America on moisturizers recommended to burn patients for scar management. The survey revealed that 53 therapists recommend 29 different moisturizers demonstrating the variability in practice. Further survey questions revealed minimal use of evidence to guide practice.


To systematically collect and collate all relevant evidence on moisturizers effect on scars. The objective is to provide knowledge on the properties of the moisturizers clinicians should be looking for, and/or specific ingredients that a moisturizer should have in order to have a positive (or negative) effect on scar outcome.


Keloids and hypertrophic scars were included but atrophic scars were not. Databases searched included PubMed, CINAHL, Embase and Web of Science.


1570 studies were identified in the structured search. After removal of duplicates there were 1419. These were screened leaving 138, 64 of which were excluded once title and abstract was reviewed.  Of the 74 articles left, 11 were identified as suitable to be put in a subgroup on the topic of Imiquimod use post excision of keloid scars. The remaining 63 articles were assessed for quality. The final critical appraisal included 7 studies in the Imiquimod group and 22 studies in the group examining the effect of moisturizers on scars. Meta-analysis of the imiquimod group and narrative synthesis of the effects of various moisturizers on scars will be presented.


The results demonstrate that well structured research is desperately needed to guide clinical practice.

Tanja has been working in burns for the last 12 years as the Senior Occupational Therapist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital adult burn service. She is also a senior clinician in hand therapy at the RAH. Last year she started her Masters in Clinical Science with JBI at the University of Adelaide with an aim to improve the evidence for scar management.


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