Keloid: Some Important Questions

What is a keloid?

A keloid is a patch of excessive scar tissue that forms after a skin injury or surgery. Sometimes, common and usual scar may enlarge on its own and for a firm, thick, smooth growth that becomes a keloid. Why keloid forms is not known, but some people tend to develop it even after minor injury and they have tendency to produce excess fibrous tissue at the site of injury and around it. Some people develop keloid even after insect bite, pimples etc. Keloids usually do not cause any serious problem, other than cosmetic problem.

  Image By Htirgan РOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32782658

What signs and symptoms keloid can produce?

Keloid do not cause any serious problem. The main problem associated with keloid is cosmetic problem. However, it can cause minor symptoms such as itching, tenderness (pain on pressure) etc. The scar tissue is raised above surrounding skin. They do not regress on their own and remain permanently. Keloid can form in any part of the body, however, they tend to occur more commonly in some areas such as, upper chest, shoulders etc.

What are the possible causes of keloid?

The exact cause of keloid is unknown. Why some people have tendency to produce excess scar tissue during healing of skin injury is not clear. They do run in some families and usually associated with abnormal genes.

What are the risk factors of keloid?

There are some risk factors that may lead to excess scar formation in some people, they include,

  • Blood group A
  • 10-30 years of age
  • Surgery
  • Piercing various body parts such as ear, nose
  • Gunshot wounds and other accidental injuries

What is the treatment of keloid?

Unless it is causing problems cosmetically, a keloid  can be kept as it is and it will cause no problem. However, if one decide to treat it various treatment modalities are available. They include,

  • Corticosteroid injection at the keloid site, repeated every few weeks.
  • Cryotherapy: this involve freezing the keloid using liquid nitrogen, which has very low temperature.
  • Silicone gel dressing
  • Pressure pressing
  • Laser therapy or laser surgery to cut the excess scar tissue
  • Polyurethane patch applied to the scar tissue
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgical removal of the keloid. However, keloid may form again at the same site after surgical removal and the second keloid may be larger than the first one.

Most of the above mentioned treatment modalities carry various risks and need to be used wisely, if ever used. Best is to live the keloid alone.

Is it possible to prevent keloid formation?

Certain precautions can be taken if a person is prone to develop keloid. For example, if surgery is required for some health problem, steroid (such as cortisone) injection can be made at the site of incision before surgery. This way risk of keloid formation can be reduced.

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