Scarring is a natural part of your body’s healing process. It results from the biological process of wound repair in your skin and other tissues. Many wounds, except for the very minor ones, usually result in some degree of scarring.
In instances where a scar overgrows and becomes fairly larger than the initial wound, it is medically referred to as a keloid. Keloid scars are usually diagnosed through clinical examinations. Common areas in your body where keloid scars are likely to develop include your chin, shoulders, neck, upper chest, lower legs, earlobes, and breastbone.
On most occasions, keloid scars usually develop due to acne scars, burn injuries, infected wounds as well as from surgical scars. Keloid scars are also likely to develop or appear during pregnancy. It is essential to note that keloids are not contagious — so you don’t have to fear or avoid anyone who has them. In cases where a keloid seems to resemble a skin growth, your doctor may opt to carry out a skin biopsy as part of the diagnosis process.
A skin biopsy simply involves removing a small sample of your skin to be observed under a microscope.
Scarring occurs when the deep, thick skin layer gets damaged. Your body then forms new collagen fibers, which are a naturally occurring protein in your body, to correct the damage leading to the development of a scar. The newly created scar tissue will be of a different texture and quality than the surrounding tissue. It is also important to note that scarring will only form after a wound is completely healed.
Generally, keloids are large, raised scars. A keloid can either be red, skin-colored, pink, or darker than the surrounding skin. Most often, they tend to feel smooth and fairly firm. What’s more, they don’t have any hair. Keloid scars can grow continuously for months or years, extending from the edges of the initial skin damage.
For effective and optimal results, your doctor will most likely recommend a combination of treatments. This is because keloid scars are usually tough to get rid of, and even worse, usually return even after treatment. I usually prescribe a combination of at least two treatments and my patients often see improved results.
However, before you visit your doctor, it would be important to know what to expect from him/her. Most doctors, including myself, usually ask questions such as:
Simply put, knowing what to expect from your doctor will help you manage your expectations when it comes to results. Depending on the extent of your keloid scarring as well as your expectations, the available treatment options may include:
Corticosteroids are a normal part of any keloid treatment plan. When injected into the keloid, the corticosteroids help shrink the scar. You will receive a spectrum of injections once every three or four weeks. The first injections usually relieve symptoms, helping your keloid feel fairly better.
Research shows that 50-80% of keloids usually disappear after corticosteroid injections. Unfortunately, many keloid scars may regrow within five years. To help improve results, your doctor may often add another therapy to your treatment plan.
Silicon gels and sheets are usually used to prevent a keloid scar from recurring. Sometimes, silicon may be used alone to flatten a keloid too. Studies show that nearly 34% of keloid scars are flattened after using silicon gel for six consecutive months.
Cryotherapy involves freezing the keloid scar from the inside out while saving the skin below the keloid. This helps minimize the hardness as well as the size of the keloid. Cryotherapy works best for relatively smaller keloids. It is highly recommended that you should have at least a few cryotherapy treatments either before or after receiving corticosteroid injections because it can help reduce the size of the keloid. Simply put, cryotherapy may help enhance the effectiveness of corticosteroid injections.
Keloid surgery involves surgically removing the keloid. While surgery may seem like a lasting solution, it is important to note that close to 100% of keloids often recur after surgical treatment.
After treatment, you should expect the size of your keloid scar to be minimised as alleviated from symptoms such as itching and pain. In some instances, treatment may completely get rid of the keloid!
However, I ought to remind you that some keloid scars may recur even after treatment. To prevent this, you should always adhere to your doctor’s instructions to help reduce the chance of your keloid recurring.
If you have a high risk of developing keloid scars, your best line of defence against keloids would be to avoid skin trauma such as tattooing, piercing as well as cosmetic surgical procedures. To prevent a keloid after a small injury to your skin, start your treatment immediately to allow it to heal fairly faster and with less scarring. Below are some proven tips to help prevent the growth of a keloid:
However, in cases involving acne, you should seek immediate and effective medical therapy, since it is the only way to minimize the risk of scarring.