04 Jan Keloid Scarring: What are the Real Facts?
Scarring generally isn’t painful and it’s a natural part of life. Unfortunately, the presence of certain types of scars can be more distressing.
Not only can scars be painful reminders of trauma or an injury but they can affect your self-confidence too. Keloids are one of the most noticeable types of scars. If you’re not sure what they are or whether you have one, this guide will help.
Keloids are the same as other scars in the sense that they’re a natural response to a wound. However, keloids form additional scar tissue, which makes them harder and more prominent than normal scars. This pathological process can continue for many years culminating in large irregular shaped masses of scar tissue.
Keloid scars can vary in size and they can be associated with itching and pain, though usually not too painful but they’re far more noticeable. Fortunately, treatment options are available and there are ways to reduce the chances of them forming.
To help you better understand the causes and treatment options for these scars, let’s look at some real facts about keloids.
Need-To-Know Facts About Keloid Scars
Your Keloid Scars Could Be Linked to Genetics
It’s still not entirely clear why keloid scars form. However, genetics seem to play a prominent role in how likely it is that you will develop this type of scar. People with darker skin tones tend to be more prone to keloids, which can develop after surgery, a piercing, an insect bite or a tattoo. It’s also more common for keloid scars to form in areas that move a lot, such as the arms and chest. Once a keloid starts to form, you will usually feel an itchy, tender or burning sensation. Dr Omarjee can tell you how likely it is for a keloid to form after a procedure based on old scars.
New Piercings are Risky
If you think or know that you’re prone to developing keloid scars, it’s advisable to stay away from new piercings, particularly on the earlobes. For some reasons, earrings with metal backs tend to trigger keloids. This is thought to be the result of an allergic response to certain types of metal. If you do want to go ahead with a piercing, rather opt for earrings without metal backs.
Keloids Become Much Larger Than the Original Wound
Scars start to form when the body creates collagen in response to a skin injury. This tough, fibrous protein fills the gaps that are created by wounds. Unfortunately, in some instances, the collagen grows too aggressively, which is when uneven and noticeable scars form. Keloid scars do exactly this, which is why they’re raised and extend beyond the original boundaries of the wound.
Keloids and Sunlight Don’t Play Nicely Together
Along with being thicker and raised, keloids are usually also darker than the skin around them. Exposing a keloid scar to sunlight can make it even darker and more noticeable. If you will be spending time outdoors, ensure that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Keloids That are Removed Can Grow Back
There are a number of ways that keloids can be treated, including :
- Cortisone injections. This anti-inflammatory treatment can help make keloids smaller. This is usually an essential component to treating all keloids irrespective of size.
Chemotherapy drugs and Botulinum toxin injections have anti-inflammatory properties and are sometimes used in the management of keloid scars.
- Surgery. Keloid scars can also be surgically removed. This treatment is required for large keloid scars.
- Laser therapy. Many types of keloids can be reduced in size by shrinking its blood supply. This aids in reducing its size, and complements anti-inflammatory injection treatments ( eg. Cortisone). This can be addressed with a vascular laser. Sometimes a pigmentation reducing laser is used to improve the colour (hyperpigmentation) of the skin post flattening a keloid.
- Pressure. Applying pressure to keloid scars can also reduce their size.
Silicone is the Only Topical Solution for Keloids
Silicone has been used to treat abnormal scars since the 1980s. It’s also the only topical treatment that actually produces results. Any other products on the market that make miraculous claims will more than likely not produce the results you’re hoping for. Speak to a professional about the topical products you can use to potentially reduce the appearance of a keloid scar.
Unfortunately, once you develop a keloid scar, you can expect them to appear again in the future. The good news is that they can be treated and don’t need to affect your self-esteem Dr Ed Omarjee has a special interest in keloid scarring and has a wide array of options to manage your keloid scar.