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What is a keloid?

keloids.jpgWhen a wound heals, it leaves a scar. A keloid is a special type of scar: one that grows too much and can even become larger than the original wound. It is not uncommon for surgical or injury scars to become a little lumpy (hypertrophic). A keloid differs from these in several ways:

Are keloids hereditary?

They can be - a tendency to get keloids certainly runs in some families.

What are the symptoms of a keloid?

Usually there are none; but some are tender, painful, itchy, or cause a burning sensation. The main problem is that their appearance may cause embarrassment. If they are very tight, they can limit movement at nearby joints.

What does a keloid look like?

keloids2.jpgKeloids look like exaggerated scars. They are raised above the skin around them and sometimes they are domed. They can extend beyond the limits of the skin damage that caused the scar to come up in the first place. They are shiny and hairless; usually they feel hard and rubbery; and new ones are often red or purple, becoming browner and sometimes paler as they age. Most people with keloids have only one or two. However some people have many, especially if they have come up after acne or chickenpox scars.


How will it be diagnosed?

Your doctor will be able to make the diagnosis of a keloid just by looking at your skin. No investigations are usually needed.

Can a keloid be cured?

It is unusual for a keloid to be cured after treatment. The main problem is that cutting a keloid out often leads to an even bigger one forming later in the same place.

How can a keloid be treated?

Treatment is difficult and not always successful. Possible lines of treatments include the following:

What can I do?

With keloids, prevention is better than cure. You have an extra risk of getting a keloid if:

If you are at risk, you should avoid, tattoos or body piercing, particularly if these would go through one of the high-risk areas of skin, such as the ear lobes. If you have acne, see your doctor to make sure it is treated vigorously to limit the risk of scarring. You should avoid having skin surgery for cosmetic purposes.