After your skin is injured, your cells try to repair it by forming a scar. In some people, the scar tissue keeps forming long after the wound heals. This extra scar tissue causes a red, raised area on your skin that is called a keloid (say: “key-loyd”). Keloids don’t usually hurt, but they may feel itchy or sensitive to the touch.
Keloids can develop after your skin is burned or cut. They can also develop after you get a body piercing or a tattoo, or have surgery. Keloids sometimes show up 3 months or longer after your skin is injured. Some continue to grow for years.
You are more likely to develop a keloid if:
People who have darker skin are 15% to 20% more likely to develop keloids. Certain areas of the body are more likely to scar than others. Keloids usually develop on the chest, shoulders, earlobes and cheeks.
The goal of treatment is to flatten the keloid. Treatments include the following:
Some of these treatments are expensive and take time to work. Larger keloids can be removed with surgery and then treated with corticosteroid shots and silicone sheets to keep them from coming back.
Different treatments work for different people. Talk to your doctor about which treatment option is right for you.
People who are more likely to get keloids may decide not to get a body piercing or tattoo. If you get your ears pierced, you should wear special pressure earrings to reduce scarring on your earlobes.
If you need surgery, make sure your doctor knows that you may get keloids. This is especially important if the surgery will affect an area that is likely to scar. Starting certain treatments right after surgery may help to prevent keloids. These treatments include corticosteroid shots and pressure dressings to help flatten the scar.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff