Keloid Scar Proper Treatment, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Scarring on the body or face is always noticeable, although scar tissue generally fades to closely match skin colour over time. However, in some cases a scar can become more visible and grow rather than recede. Scar tissue is part of the body’s natural healing mechanism and something to be grateful for, but when it expands to become an unsightly abnormality it is called a keloid, sometimes referred to as a scar that ‘doesn’t know when to stop’.

Keloids often appear as raised rubbery lesions that are firm and shiny, growing well out of proportion to the original scar. They are benign (harmless) although there can be associated itchiness or pain, and depending on the keloid location it can hamper natural movements of surrounding skin. Keloids are the result of collagen granulation tissue multiplying during wound repair, overgrowing the original wound site and affecting surrounding areas.

Keloid symptoms

Keloids usually take several weeks or months to fully develop and can become large and unsightly or can develop soon after an injury. Discomfort associated with keloids can be caused by friction when the raised keloid rubs against clothing. Those with a darker skin tone, pregnant women and people under the age of 30 are more susceptible to keloid growth.

Your dermatologist can usually distinguish a keloid with a visual check.

Keloid symptoms include:

  • Localised scar tissue that continues to grow and multiply over time
  • Red, pink, purple or flesh-coloured growths
  • A raised, lumpy and shiny area of skin forming over a previous scar and surrounding skin
  • Itchiness or pain associated with the growth

Almost any damaged area of skin can transform into a keloid. The cellular signals involved in wound healing become confused, resulting in abnormal healing. Large keloids can appear over the site of even minimally damaged skin, including:

  • acne scars
  • chickenpox scars
  • ear piercing scars
  • burns
  • surgical incisions
  • scratches
  • vaccination jab sites
  • insect bites

Keloid scarring is experienced by close to 10 percent of all people, with darker-skinned populations at greater risk. Research also reveals a genetic link, with keloids more common when there is a family history of the condition. People in higher-risk categories should carefully consider whether unnecessary body ornamentations such as piercings, tattoos or cosmetic surgery procedures are worthwhile.

Keloid scar treatment and diagnosis

Keloids are benign, although uncontrolled growth of many skin conditions can be a sign of more invasive cancer. A professional clinician will perform a visual examination or even take a tissue sample for analysis of cellular structure. Removing a keloid, although an option, is not always a quick and easy fix as keloids can grow back, sometimes larger than before. Other treatment options include:

  • corticosteroid injections
  • cryotherapy (freezing)
  • adhering medical pads soon after injury
  • keeping skin and scar tissue soft with moisturising agents
  • laser treatment for reduction of scar tissue

Recovery results vary from person to person, so your Pymble Dermatology clinician will educate you regarding the full spectrum of treatment options available for keloids or any other disfiguring skin condition.