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Hidden scars: What are keloids and how can they be treated?

Keloids are elevated overgrowths of scar tissue that occur at a skin injury site.


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Keloids arise when the skin has been damaged by accident, surgery, blisters, vaccines, acne or body piercing. Less often, they can grow in areas where no noticeable damage has occurred to the skin, such as ingrown hairs formed after shaving.

During recovery, a keloid is caused by an excess of protein (collagen) in the skin.

Where can you develop a keloid?

Keloids aren’t harmful to your wellbeing. They are most often found on the elbows, upper back and arms, but can develop anywhere. You might get angry over having them, especially when they appear in extremely sensitive areas. People’s self-esteem can be bruised by these scars. Some even appear below the belt – ouch.

Are they infectious?

A keloid scar is benign and not contagious, but sometimes accompanied by severe itchiness, pain, and changes in texture. These symptoms can be confusing for someone with a keloid as it may seem as though they have an infection, however that is not so.

Who is prone to getting them?

Keloids are more common among people with darker skin, however, they can affect anyone at any age and of any gender. They can also affect those who have a family history of them.

Can they be treated?

Different treatments can be used, however, doctors may advise against using more than one treatment. For example, if you only do surgical removal, the scar has a higher chance of coming back even larger because keloids are formed by cuts.

Treatments include the following:

  • Corticosteroid shots, the medicine in these shots helps shrink the scar
  • Freezing the scar, called cryotherapy, can be used to reduce the hardness and size of the keloid
  • Wearing silicone sheets or gel over the scar
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgical removal
  • Pressure treatment

How can I prevent a keloid?

It is not easy to shed light on how to prevent growing a keloid if you are not aware that your skin is prone to growing keloids. People who are susceptible to keloids may want to avoid piercings, shaving and tattoos entirely. If for some reason anyone needs surgery, they will tell their doctor of any history of keloids and treatment will begin shortly after the operation.

What can you do if you think you have a keloid?

Although they are not dangerous to your wellbeing, they may cause cosmetic problems. Some medical aids don’t cover surgical removal of keloids as they are considered to be cosmetic, however a professional doctor can motivate why you’d need to have the keloid removed.

Speak to a professional about different methods of treatment. With the rise of many content creators on YouTube channels, personal experience videos can seem to be the solution. It is understandable however as these treatments can be expensive especially when there is no guarantee of non-recurrence.

Health specialists haven’t found a cure for keloids, however, there are many ways of reducing the speed of growth and re-occurrence.

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