Keloids are raised overgrowths of scar tissue that occur at the site of a skin injury. Keloids differ from hypertrophic scars in composition and size. Once a keloid develops, it is permanent unless removed or treated to reduce size. Certain measures can be taken to prevent more from developing.
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What does a keloid look like?
After your skin is injured, the cells repair it by forming a scar. For some people, scar tissue keeps forming long after the wound heals. This extra scar tissue causes the raised area on your skin that is called a keloid.
A keloid begins as a pink, red, or flesh-colored scar. It may continue to darken with time and sun exposure and ends up looking darker than the skin around the scar. The scars range in size and may grow as large as 12 inches or more. A keloid scar can mimic other skin tumors.
Some people, however, have a higher risk of developing a keloid when they scar. People with dark pigmented skin are 15 times more likely to develop keloids, with those of African, Hispanic, and Asian ethnicity at greatest risk.1 Keloid scars also tend to run in families.
What causes keloids?
Many different types of skin injuries can lead to a keloid. These include:
- surgical scars
- severe acne
- puncture wounds
- chicken pox
Sometimes, a surgical scar turns into a keloid. Some women who have had a cesarean section (C-section) or hysterectomy get keloids after the surgery. Other minor injuries that can trigger keloids are cosmetic piercings and tattoos.
While a keloid is growing, it can feel itchy, painful, or both. It may become irritated from friction, such as rubbing against clothing. Keloids can also cause discomfort, tightness, or even limited range of motion if they occur near a joint, such as the knee or ankle. Once a keloid stops growing, symptoms usually stop.
Keloids develop most often on the chest, back, shoulders, and earlobes. It can take as long as 3 to 12 months or even longer before you to notice a keloid beginning to develop. Keloids are most common in people under the age 30, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.2
How do I get rid of keloids?
Keloid scars can be difficult to treat. Preventing keloids through proper wound care and avoiding injury to the skin is the recommended strategy. Treatment may reduce the size of the keloid as well as symptoms like pain and itchiness. However, keloids are likely to return after treatment.
- Silicone gel or sheeting: this involves wearing a sheet of silicone gel on the affected area continuously for months. Moisture is locked into the skin around the scar, reducing the blood supply and deposit of collagen. This process is what the body uses to rebuild deeply wounded skin.
Cica-Care Silicone Gel Sheets
Keloids are not preventable, but they are avoidable. It’s important to treat any skin injury as soon as it happens, no matter how minor it is. This may help your skin heal faster and reduce your risk of scarring. Gently wash the wound and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Cover the wound with a sterile bandage to apply constant and even pressure.
If you are prone to keloids, piercings and tattoos are strongly discouraged. Do not pop acne pimples or pick at healing scabs. If the site of skin injury is inflamed, use a medicated ointment to soothe pain and prevent you from itching. If keloids don’t improve with the help of home remedies, talk to a doctor.
1. Cole, Gary. (2019). Keloid Scar Treatment, Prevention, Remedies, Symptoms & Causes. MedicineNet. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3fM8n0C
2. Nall, Rachel. (2019). Everything You Need to Know About Keloid Scars. Healthline. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3fI76HP
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