What is a keloid scar?
A keloid is a scar that becomes larger and wider than the original injury. Keloids most often form on the sternum, shoulder, upper chest and back, earlobe, and face.
Keloids do not turn into cancer, but they can be uncomfortable or painful enough to require treatment. Keloids frequently re-form after treatment.
It is possible to prevent the formation of a keloid by taking steps to protect your skin after it has been damaged.
What is the cause of a keloid?
Keloids can form where the skin has been damaged, such as from a surgical cut, a body piercing, a burn, chicken pox, or acne. Thick tissue forms that protrudes from the healing area and makes the scar larger than the original injury. For some people, even a scratch can produce keloids.
Keloids are hereditary and rarely form on light-colored skin. Experts believe that keloids may be related to a gene that is associated with dark skin pigment.
What are the symptoms?
Keloids have the appearance of firm, hard and raised scars. They get bigger over time. Its color varies from slightly pink to very dark.
Keloids can rub against clothing and become irritated, itchy, or painful. When exposed to the sun, they can darken more than the rest of the skin. The dark color could be permanent.
How are they treated?
There is no sure cure for keloids, but sometimes treatment improves the way they look and feel. It is common for keloids to re-form after treatment.
When trying to treat a keloid, your doctor may have to use more than one type of treatment. Depending on the size and location of the keloid, and how early it is treated, your doctor may:
- Freeze it. This is called cryotherapy. Its use is more appropriate for small keloids, such as those due to acne. Cryotherapy can lighten the skin.
- Inject a medication.
- A corticosteroid is the drug most often used to reduce keloids. It is more likely to work well with cryotherapy or right after surgery.
- Other medications can improve keloids. These include injections of verapamil, fluorouracil, bleomycin, and interferon alfa 2b. They have not been studied as well as corticosteroid injections, but your doctor may recommend that you try one of these medications. They are more likely to work when used in conjunction with another treatment.
- Extract it. Surgery is sometimes used for larger keloids. But removing keloids can produce more keloids. Therefore, it is important to treat the area after surgery. This may include laser treatment or medication injections.
- Cover the area with a silicone gel dressing after surgery. These products can be purchased at most pharmacies. Leave the silicone dressing on your skin for 12 to 24 hours a day for a period of 2 to 6 months. Your doctor will tell you when you can stop the treatment.
- Apply pressure to the dressing with a compression bandage.
Radiation tends to be reserved as the last option for treating keloids. There is a chance that it can cause cancer.
Some keloid treatments may be covered by your health insurance, but not others. Also, your treatment may not be covered if the insurance company believes it is done only to improve the appearance of the scar (for cosmetic reasons).
How can you prevent keloids?
If you tend to have keloids, it’s best to avoid body piercings, tattoos, or any surgery you don’t need. Keloids can appear after these procedures.
To prevent keloids after a minor skin injury, start treating it right away. This may help you heal faster and with less scar tissue formation. Following the following tips to treat the area can prevent the formation of keloids.
- Cover a new woundwith a thin layer of petroleum jelly and a non-stick bandage. Hold the bandage in place with tape so that it puts even pressure on the wound. Wash the area with soap and water every day.
- After the wound heals, use a silicone gel dressing. Maintain even pressure on the area. This can prevent the growth of the keloid. Keep the dressing on your skin for 12 to 24 hours a day for 2 to 3 months. (It takes 3 months for a keloid to grow).
- After an ear piercing, wear pressure earrings. These earrings are also known as Zimmer splints.