What are Keloids?

Keloids are initially caused by a cut, burn, piercing, acne bumps, or other trauma that results in a larger scar. The scar looks thick, firm, and is mounded up and often spilling over the boundaries of the original scar. Most commonly, these are found on individuals with darker skin and women of various ethnicities. Common locations include the ear lobes after ear piercing, the neck, arms, legs, and torso. While knowing scars are the driving force behind keloids, it is unknown why some people form this type of scar. They are not dangerous or cancerous, but they may occasionally itch, sting, or burn.

Treatment Options

  • Steroid injection: Newer keloids may respond well to an injection of a steroid directly into the scar. This should be repeated every 6-8 weeks until the keloid shrinks away, or no further improvement is noticeable. These injections may also help reduce itching.
  • Topicals: Imiquimod and 5-fluorouracil are forms of “chemotherapy cream” that can also be used to target quickly growing scar cells and help shrink keloids. These creams do not cause side effects such as nausea or hair loss like with traditional chemotherapy, but rather cause a reaction on and around the keloid. They are applied topically for several weeks.
  • Laser therapy: If offered by your dermatologist, a pulsed-dye laser may be used to treat keloids. Similar to steroid injections, laser treatment should be repeated every 6-8 weeks until the keloid begins to shrink or no further improvement is noticeable.
  • Silicone gel-sheet: Silicone gel-sheets may be found over the counter or through your dermatologist and applied over a keloid to apply pressure and help reduce the size of a keloid. This method is best used in combination with another treatment.
  • Surgical treatment: Surgery may be the most effective treatment for keloids. However, it does not always lead to complete resolution and keloids may return. For this reason, surgical removal is often combined with one of the above treatments to achieve the best resolution possible.

The best method of preventing keloids is to avoid trauma like body piercings and tattooing. If you notice you are developing a keloid, your dermatologist can help tailor a regimen to help decrease the size or remove the scar.

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