You’ve probably seen both Mederma and Neosporin in the pharmacy first aid section.
So which one is better for preventing scars after a cut, bruise, or burn?
Today, I’ve put together a full comparison of Mederma vs Neosporin to answer this question.
Keep reading for my full review of both scar products!
Related: Mederma Review
Mederma vs Neosporin
Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API
Mederma is an onion extract gel that may help with wound healing and scar prevention. Mederma can be used on both new and old scars.
Neosporin, on the other hand, is an antibiotic ointment that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Antibiotic ointments help prevent fresh wounds from infection.
So which one is better for scar treatment?
The short story is: neither.
The clinical evidence for onion extract gels is still inconclusive. But Mederma does boast thousands of positive reviews (I’ve used it before with some success).
Antibiotic ointments like Neosporin are best used for wound care, not scar management. There is no clinical evidence that these types of ointments can improve or prevent scarring.
If you want the best results for your scars, I recommend a silicone gel like NewGel+. It’s effective, lightweight and fast drying, and affordable.
Silicone is clinically proven and recommended by the International Advisory Panel on Scar Management for both hypertrophic scars and keloids. (1)
Mederma Advanced Scar Gel
- Softens existing scars
- Reduces discoloration
- Thousands of reviews
- Inconclusive clinical studies
- Results require patience
- May cause itchiness, irritation, or redness
If you want great results that won’t break the bank, Mederma is an excellent option.
Featuring Cepalin (onion extract), Mederma has been the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for 15 years.
Although clinical studies of onion extract are somewhat mixed, it’s clear that Mederma has helped thousands of people with their scar problems.
Amazon alone has well over 2,000 reviews, including hundreds of before/after photos.
Personally, I’ve used Mederma for my chest keloids and have seen slow but steady improvements in scar texture and color (check out my progress photos here).
Mederma has a light texture and mild scent. It’s easy to apply and dries quickly.
- Cepalin (onion extract)
- Light texture
- Mild scent
- Dries quickly
- Softens existing scars
- Reduces scar discoloration
- Won’t break the bank
- Hypertrophic scars
- Keloids (including on the chest or earlobes)
- Surgical scars (including C-section)
- Scars from trauma, burns, or injuries
- Scars on the face, hands, and other visible areas
Why Onion Extract?
Onion extract (allium cepa) has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies show that onion extract may inhibit fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen). (2)
This can help soften hypertrophic scars and keloids and may also reduce discoloration.
Onion extract also contains quercetin, a plant flavonoid that inhibits collagen. (3)
The clinical evidence, however, is still inconclusive:
- One study reported no difference between onion extract and Vaseline (4)
- Other studies reported positive results using onion extract (5, 6, 7)
- One study was funded by Merz (manufacturer of Mederma) (7)
In my opinion, the main selling point of Mederma is the price.
It’s more affordable than alternative scar treatments like silicone gels and corticosteroid injections, both of which are used for hypertrophic scars and keloids.
Mederma is also widely available at retailers like Wal-Mart and online at Amazon.
As for the product itself, it definitely works (see my progress photos here).
But it requires a lot of patience and most people quit too early. In my experience, it takes at least 3 months before you’ll see any noticeable results.
Mederma has well over 2,000 reviews on Amazon. While reviews are mostly positive, Mederma doesn’t work for everyone.
For some people, Mederma flattened their scars completely. But for others, it didn’t seem to move the needle much.
As with all skincare products, your mileage may vary (YMMV).
Side effects of Mederma may include itchiness, irritation, and redness.
Read my full review of Mederma here.
Pro Tip: use Mederma 2x daily (instead of 1x) to maintain continuous scar coverage.
Mederma is a popular scar gel that works well and is quite affordable.
Neosporin Original Antibiotic Ointment
- Kills bacteria, viruses, fungi
- Prevents microbial infection
- Moisturizes wound
- Good reviews
- Not intended to improve or prevent scarring
- Does not help old scars
- Triple antibiotic ointment (bacitracin, polymyxin B, and neomycin)
- Relieves pain (lidocaine hydrochloride)
- Widely available
- Very affordable
- Disinfects wounds of bacteria
- Reduces some of the pain
- Keeps skin moisturized
- Easy to apply
- New wounds from cuts, bruises, scrapes, burns, or injuries
- Small incisions from surgery (although I’d recommend silicone gels instead)
Neosporin is one of the most popular topical antibiotic ointments. It can be used to prevent infection after minor cuts and bruises.
Antibiotic ointments may help injuries heal quicker and with less pain at first. Having said that, you can often achieve the same results with good ol’ fashioned Vaseline.
Neosporin contains 3 antibiotics (bacitracin, polymyxin B, and neomycin) and lidocaine hydrochloride for rapid pain relief.
Unfortunately, neomycin has been known to cause allergies and contact dermatitis with long-term use. For this reason, I recommend using Polysporin instead.
Generic versions are also available, usually sold as “triple antibiotic” ointment or cream.
Among the positive reviews, people claimed Neosporin improved wound healing outcomes.
Among the negative reviews, people complained that Neosporin caused allergies due to neomycin. As an alternative, I recommend using Polysporin which does not include neomycin.
As with all skincare products, your mileage may vary (YMMV).
Neosporin is an excellent antibiotic ointment but may cause allergies due to neomycin.
Alternatives to Mederma & Neosporin
My Top Pick
My top pick for a silicone gel.
Featuring 100% silicone and vitamin E, NewGel+ boasts amazing reviews on Amazon at a very affordable price.
A high quality silicone gel.
Another high quality silicone gel, Kelo-Cote is very effective on hypertrophic scars and keloids but more expensive.
What Causes Scars?
Ever wonder why you get those pesky scars in the first place?
Well, research suggests that genetics are partly to blame (thanks, Mom and Dad). (8)
But scars themselves are a natural response by your body to injuries.
Part 1: Inflammation
When you’re injured, your body sets off an “alarm” signal known as inflammation.
This process jumpstarts the immune system and triggers wound healing signals.
Part 2: Repair
After inflammation comes the repair stage.
Your body replaces damaged skin with new skin cells and materials like collagen.
Collagen fibers weave together to form the foundations of new skin tissue (a “scar”).
Part 3: Scars
Unfortunately, scars are seldom identical to the original skin.
They’re often a different color and may feel hard or lumpy.
Sometimes, scars end up elevated like hypertrophic scars or keloids.
This happens if your body produced too much collagen during the repair stage.
I hope this guide to Mederma vs Neosporin helps you pick the right product for you.
Remember, nothing can replace patience and consistency!
If you want the best results for your scars, I recommend a silicone gel like NewGel+.
If you’re on a limited budget, a good alternative scar product is Mederma.
If you just need an antibiotic cream for post-injury wound care, then go with Neosporin.
- Gold MH, et al. International Advisory Panel on Scar Management. “Updated international clinical recommendations on scar management: part 2–algorithms for scar prevention and treatment.” Dermatological Surgery vol. 40,8 (2014): 825-31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25068544
- Cho JW, et al. “Onion extract and quercetin induce matrix metalloproteinase-1 in vitro and in vivo.” International Journal of Molecular Medicine vol. 25,3 (2010): 347-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20127038
- Phan TT, et al. “Quercetin inhibits fibronectin production by keloid-derived fibroblasts. Implication for the treatment of excessive scars.” Journal of Dermatological Science vol. 33 (2003): 192–4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14643528
- Chung VQ, et al. “Onion extract gel versus petrolatum emollient on new surgical scars: prospective double-blinded study.” Dermatological Surgery vol. 32,2 (2006): 193-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16442038
- Ho WS, et al. “Use of onion extract, heparin, allantoin gel in prevention of scarring in chinese patients having laser removal of tattoos: a prospective randomized controlled trial.” Dermatological Surgery vol. 32,7 (2006): 891-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16875470
- Beuth J, et al. “Safety and efficacy of local administration of contractubex to hypertrophic scars in comparison to corticosteroid treatment. Results of a multicenter, comparative epidemiological cohort study in Germany.” In Vivo vol. 20,2 (2006): 277-83. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16634531
- Draelos, Zoe D et al. “A new proprietary onion extract gel improves the appearance of new scars: a randomized, controlled, blinded-investigator study.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology vol. 5,6 (2012): 18-24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390235/
- Gauglitz, Gerd G et al. “Hypertrophic scarring and keloids: pathomechanisms and current and emerging treatment strategies.” Molecular Medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 17,1-2 (2010): 113-25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022978/