Thick, raised scars are called keloids. They’re generally not harmful, aren’t contagious and won’t become cancerous. But many people find them unattractive and want to remove them. However, keloid scars can be challenging to remove, so early treatment and prevention are essential.
Keloid scars can appear anywhere on the body. Most commonly, they will develop on the:
Keloids usually don’t develop on eyelids, genitals, the palms of your hands or the bottoms of your feet.
What causes keloid scars?
Keloid scars usually appear within three months to a year after an injury, such as a cut, burn, piercing or surgical incision. Some people even develop a keloid from acne, insect bites or a hair removal treatment.
Keloid scars appear as a thick area of shiny, raised skin. A keloid may look brown, red or purple, depending on your skin color. The scar may feel itchy and cause discomfort, especially if it’s located in a joint.
Doctors don’t fully understand the causes of keloid scars, but they’re generally thought to be caused by a malfunction of the body’s wound-healing mechanism. A protein called collagen helps wounds heal. But if the body makes too much collagen, a keloid scar can develop.
How can you prevent keloid scarring?
Some people are at greater risk of developing keloid scars. People with brown or black skin and those with a family history of keloid are more likely to develop this type of scar. Younger people, usually between the ages of 20 and 30, are at higher risk.
Follow these tips to prevent keloid scars if you’re at increased risk.
Follow proper wound care practices
Wash the wound using mild soap and water. Keep it clean and moist by using a thin layer of petroleum jelly like Vaseline or Aquaphor. Reapply as needed throughout the day.
Your doctor might suggest applying a pressure pad or a silicone gel pad to a wound while it’s healing. Pressure earrings will also help prevent keloid after ear-piercing.
Protect your skin
Forego intentional injuries such as body piercings, tattoos and elective surgeries. Even minor cuts and scratches can cause a keloid scar, so avoid harming your skin on purpose.
Tell your surgeon
Tell your surgeon you’re at risk for keloid scarring if you must have surgery. That way, they can use surgical techniques that reduce the risk of developing a keloid at the surgical site and recommend an appropriate post-surgical care regimen.
Can you get rid of keloid scars?
Keloid scars can be challenging to treat, but there are options. A dermatologist has tools to remove or reduce the size of keloid scars.
- Injections of steroids can reduce the size of the scar.
- Cryotherapy or freezing with liquid nitrogen can remove or reduce keloids.
- Pulsed-dye laser sessions can flatten a keloid.
- Low-level x-ray radiation can shrink scar tissue.
- Surgical excision of the keloid. A pressure garment is usually required after surgery to prevent a recurrence.
While these methods can be effective, they are not without risks. For example, some keloid treatments can affect skin color. Be sure to discuss the treatment method with your dermatologist before deciding to address a keloid scar.
Explore your keloid treatment options
Keloid scars can be emotionally upsetting and uncomfortable for many people, so discuss treatment options with a dermatologist who can help. Request an appointment at Valley Skin Institute and browse our selection of high-quality products to keep your skin looking and feeling great.