What are Keloids?
As part of the healing process, it’s common for scars to form following an injury, such as a cut or burn or even severe acne. However, for some people, the scar becomes larger than the original wound and forms what is known as a keloid.
Keloids are raised scars above the skin that spread and can take weeks, months and sometimes years to grow. They typically appear as a raised pink, red or purple scar and become darker with time. Various types of skin injuries, such as cuts, surgical scars, insect bites, piercings and tattoos can result in the formation of a keloid. As the keloid grows, it may become itchy, tender and sometimes even painful. In general, keloids tend to develop on people who have keloid-prone skin; individuals of African American, Latino and Asian descent, pregnant women, teenagers going through puberty, young adults under the age of 30, and individuals with a family history of keloids fit in this category.
While keloids are not a precursor to cancer or harmful to your health, they are for many people embarrassing and can cause low self-esteem.
Can Keloids Be Treated or Removed?
The good news … Keloids are treatable. Some popular treatment options include:
- Corticosteroid shots, which helps to shrink keloid and can help with itch and pain
- Freezing method, which reduces the hardness and size of the keloid.
- Applying silicone patches or gel over the keloid, which helps to flatten.
- Laser therapy, which flattens and fade the color of the keloid.
- Surgical removal, which involves cutting out the keloid.
How do you determine which treatment is the most applicable treatment option? For the best results, individuals should see a board certified dermatologist. Dermatologists are best qualified to choose the appropriate treatment based on various considerations, such as a patient’s age and the type and size of the keloid.
A dermatologist may recommend surgical removal of a keloid if it is exceptionally large or if it is located on the base of an earlobe. Surgical removal in these cases yields better results. The surgical procedure for removing a keloid from an earlobe involves surgically cutting out the growth.
The surgical procedure for removing larger keloids requires making an incision around the keloid and removing it; this allows the surgeon to then apply specialized cosmetic techniques to close the wound, which results in removal of the keloid. Most dermatologists will combine a surgical procedure with nonsurgical treatment. Corticosteroid injections are often required after the procedure to prevent the keloid from coming back.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
For individuals with keloid-prone skin, there are some simple steps to take to lower the risks of the formation of keloid scarring.
- Treat injuries and burns immediately
- Keep wounds moisturized
- Just say no to body piercings
- Just say no to cosmetic surgery
- DO NOT pop your pimples and cleanse your face twice a day
- Grow a beard or if you must shave – do so very gingerly
And, perhaps the most important step is to see a dermatologist on a frequent basis.