What Causes Keloids and What Can I Do About Them?

Causes Keloids

Keloid scars are places on the body where a scar started to heal itself, but kept growing after the wound had closed. Keloids usually start as a raised, reddened scar, and can take as long as three to 12 months to see the first signs of development. While it is growing, it can generally feel tender, painful or itchy and become darker over time.

What Causes Keloids?

There are some people that are more prone to getting keloids naturally. This type of scarring occurs much more frequently in individuals between the ages of 10 and 30 years old and have a family history of keloids. Those of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent are also more prone to developing keloid scars. Although these groups of people are more likely to develop the condition, people outside of them are not excluded, just have them occur more infrequently.

Naturally, as with most types of scars, developing them usually requires some type of injury the body is trying to heal. Some of the most common occurrences are from piercings, or cut and puncture wounds. Tattoos can be considered a puncture that causes enough skin trauma in some people to create them, along with vaccination shots. Surgical scars like C-sections or hysterectomies are another common cause, and scarring from extensive acne, chickenpox, or bug bites are other common areas of development.

Less common occurrences can be the result of facial shaving, or even when wearing tight braids. Some develop for no apparent reason at all, often called “spontaneous keloids,” that usually develop in numbers on the chest.

The exact cause of keloids is still unknown, and scientists are still researching this type of scarring. Dermatologists are hopeful that continued research will determine more about how they form and therefore produce more opportunity to develop better treatment and more effective approaches at prevention.

What Can I Do About Them?

Unfortunately, some keloids have been known to return after treatment, especially if the keloids have only been treated using one method only. Usually, controlling keloids is most effective when two or more types of treatments are employed, and it is useful to know what you seek to gain from treatment. Are you hoping to reduce pain or itching? Reduce the size or rigidity of the keloid? If the scar is on your ear, would you like to wear earrings again? Knowing your expectations can help a dermatologist to develop a plan that is suitable for you.

One of the most common types of keloid treatments involves the local injection of steroids or other medicines. These medicines are designed to help shrink and soften the scar over time through a series of injections occurring once every three to four weeks. This method is approximately 70% effective at achieving these goals, but have a high likelihood of regrowth within five years without a second treatment.

Surgical removal of the keloid feels like a permanent solution, but nearly all keloids regrow after being removed in this way without secondary treatment. Steroid injection or cryotherapy are few common preventative measures, but aren’t quite as effective as garments or dressings that provide pressure on the affected area to prevent regrowth and feature an approximately 95% success rate. The downside to the compression method is that they tend to get uncomfortable, as they will squeeze the area and should be worn up to 16 hours a day for six to 12 months. Pressure earrings are usually the easiest to wear if a keloid was the result of a piercing.

Some advances in the kinesiology tape field have shown positive results on keloids through tension rather than compression. For those who may find compressive garments or solutions difficult to wear, specialized kinesiology tape designed for scars can be an excellent alternative that blends into your skin and hides your scar from view, giving you more confidence in your skin.

Other treatments include laser therapy to reduce the height and colour, radiation treatments as a secondary treatment to prevent the keloid from returning, ligature that can gradually cut the keloid to have it fall off, and more. Your dermatologist can help design a combination therapy that can help you with your needs and particular keloid.

Self-care is also important when trying to prevent keloids from occurring. Proper wound care and precaution can go a long way to preventing unnecessary scarring. You may wish to have a small test spot done before getting piercings, tattoos, or cosmetic surgery. Monitor the area closely and see if thickening occurs. You should also consult a surgeon before surgery if you have a history of keloids, as there may be methods he could use to help reduce the possibility of creating one.

There is still much we don’t know about keloids, but you’re certainly not without options if you’re worried about them. Consult your dermatologist to see what options you have available to you, and how they can help you to develop your own personalized keloid plan.

Author’s Bio

Daniel Johnston is a content writer currently working for BreezeMaxWeb. He is a dedicated writer and loves everything about geology, having previously studied with the Gemological Institute of America in New York.