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Keloids: What are they and How to treat them

Keloids: What are they and How to treat them


Keloids are a common dermatological condition that can cause distress and discomfort for those affected. In this comprehensive article, we will explore what keloids are, their causes, symptoms, and available treatment options. Whether you are personally dealing with keloids or seeking information to help a loved one, this article aims to provide expert insights and guidance to better understand and address this condition.

What are Keloids?

Keloids are raised, firm, and often rubbery growths that occur when scar tissue forms excessively after a skin injury. Unlike regular scars, which tend to fade over time, keloids can grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound, becoming larger than the initial injury itself. They are more common in individuals with darker skin tones, but can affect people of all races and ethnicities.

Causes of Keloids

While the exact cause of keloids is not fully understood, several factors contribute to their formation. Here are some common causes and triggers associated with keloids:

  1. Genetic Predisposition: Research suggests that certain individuals may have a genetic predisposition to keloid formation, meaning they are more likely to develop keloids if they have a family history of the condition.

  2. Skin Injuries: Keloids often develop as a result of skin injuries, such as surgical incisions, burns, acne scars, piercings, or even minor scratches and cuts. These injuries disrupt the skin's normal healing process, leading to the overproduction of collagen, which contributes to the formation of keloids.

  3. Inflammation: Inflammation in the skin, whether from acne, infections, or other dermatological conditions, can increase the risk of keloid formation. Chronic inflammation disrupts the normal healing process and can lead to the development of keloids.

  4. Hormonal Factors: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or puberty, may influence the development of keloids. Fluctuating hormone levels can affect collagen production and skin healing, making individuals more susceptible to keloid formation.

Symptoms of Keloids

Keloids are characterized by certain distinct symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms can help individuals identify the presence of keloids and seek appropriate treatment. The following are common symptoms associated with keloids:

  1. Elevated and Thickened Skin: Keloids typically have a raised appearance, extending beyond the original wound site. They may feel firm or rubbery to the touch and can vary in size.

  2. Discoloration: Keloids often appear darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. In individuals with darker skin tones, keloids may be more noticeable due to hyperpigmentation.

  3. Itching and Discomfort: Keloids can cause itching, tenderness, or discomfort. The sensation can range from mild to severe and may interfere with daily activities or quality of life.

  4. Restricted Movement: Large keloids on joints or areas with significant movement may restrict range of motion, causing functional limitations.

Treatment Options for Keloids

Managing keloids involves a combination of preventive measures and treatment strategies. While complete removal of keloids can be challenging, various medical interventions can help reduce their size, alleviate symptoms, and improve overall appearance. It is important to note that each individual's response to treatment may vary, and a healthcare professional should be consulted to determine the most suitable approach. Here are some commonly used treatment options for keloids:

  1. Corticosteroid Injections: Intralesional corticosteroid injections are often used as a first-line treatment for keloids. These injections help reduce inflammation and shrink the keloid's size. Multiple sessions may be required for optimal results.

  2. Silicone Topicals or Scar Tape: Silicone Topicals or Scar Tape can be applied directly to the keloid to flatten and soften the scar tissue. Regular and consistent use is necessary to achieve the desired outcome.

  3. Pressure Dressings: Pressure dressings, such as silicone-based gel pads or compression garments, can help flatten keloids and prevent excessive collagen production. They are typically worn for several months and require consistent usage.

  4. Surgical Excision: Surgical removal of keloids may be an option for some individuals. However, keloids have a tendency to recur after surgery, so additional treatments are often combined with excision to reduce the likelihood of regrowth.

  5. Laser Therapy: Laser treatments, such as pulsed-dye laser or fractional laser resurfacing, can help reduce redness and flatten keloids. Multiple sessions may be necessary, and these procedures are often combined with other treatment modalities.

  6. Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy involves freezing the keloid with liquid nitrogen to destroy the excess scar tissue. This treatment option may be used alone or in combination with other therapies.

FAQs about Keloids

  1. Are keloids dangerous?

    • While keloids are not dangerous or life-threatening, they can cause physical discomfort and have a significant impact on an individual's self-esteem. Seeking treatment for keloids is essential to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
  2. Can keloids be prevented?

    • While it may not be possible to completely prevent keloids, certain measures can help reduce the risk. These include avoiding unnecessary skin trauma, promptly treating skin injuries, and using pressure dressings or silicone products after wound closure.
  3. Are keloids contagious?

    • No, keloids are not contagious. They cannot be spread from person to person or through contact with objects or surfaces.
  4. Can over-the-counter creams or ointments cure keloids?

    • Over-the-counter creams or ointments may provide temporary relief from symptoms but are unlikely to cure keloids. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate medical treatment options.
  5. Are there any natural remedies for keloids?

    • While some natural remedies, such as aloe vera gel or tea tree oil, may have anecdotal benefits in reducing inflammation or promoting skin healing, their effectiveness in treating keloids has not been scientifically proven. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional for evidence-based treatment options.
  6. Can keloids come back after treatment?

    • Keloids have a tendency to recur even after successful treatment. However, combining multiple treatment modalities can help minimize the chances of regrowth and improve long-term outcomes.


Keloids are a common dermatological condition that can be physically and emotionally distressing. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for keloids is crucial for individuals affected by this condition. While complete resolution of keloids may not always be possible, various medical interventions can help reduce their size, alleviate symptoms, and improve overall appearance. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for each individual. Remember, seeking timely and effective treatment for keloids can significantly improve quality of life and boost self-confidence.

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