What are keloids?

Generally, once skin is injured, fibrous tissue, called scar tissue, forms over the wound to repair and protect the injury. In some cases, scar tissue grows excessively, forming smooth, hard growths called keloids, which are able be much larger than the original wound. They’re most commonly found on the chest, shoulders, earlobes, and cheeks. However, keloids can affect any part of the body.

Although keloids aren’t seriously harmful to your health, they may create cosmetic concerns. 

How common are keloids?

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), an estimated 10 percent of people experience keloid scarring. Men and women are equally likely to have keloid scars. Risk factors include being of African, Asian, or Latino heritage, being pregnant, and being younger than 30 years old. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of keloids?

The common symptoms of keloids are:

  • A localized area that is flesh-colored, pink, or red in color
  • A lumpy or ridged area of skin that’s usually raised
  • An area that continues to grow larger with scar tissue over time
  • An itchy patch of skin

Keloid scars tend to be larger than the original wound itself. They may take weeks or months to develop fully.

While keloid scars may be itchy, they’re usually not harmful to your health. You may experience discomfort, tenderness, or possible irritation from your clothing or other forms of friction.

In rare instances, you may experience keloid scarring on a significant amount of your body. When this occurs, the hardened, tight scar tissue may restrict your movements.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes keloids?

Most skin injury types can contribute to keloid scarring. These include:

  • Acne scars
  • Burns
  • Chickenpox scars
  • Ear piercing
  • Scratches
  • Surgical incision sites
  • Vaccination sites

Risk factors

What increases my risk for keloids?

There are many risk factors for keloids:

  • Being of Asian heritage
  • Being of Latino heritage
  • Being pregnant
  • Being younger than 30

Keloids tend to have a genetic component, which means you’re more likely to have keloids if one or both of your parents have them. The researchers found that people who have the AHNAK gene may be more likely to develop keloid scars than those who don’t.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are keloids diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you may experience keloids, he or she may perform a physical examination. After diagnosing keloid scarring by visual exam, your doctor may want to perform a biopsy to rule out other conditions. This involves taking a small sample of tissue from the scarred area and analyzing it for cancerous cells.

How are keloids treated?

The decision to treat a keloid can be a tricky one. Keloid scarring is the result of the body’s attempt to repair itself. After removing the keloid, the scar tissue may grow back again, and sometimes it grows back larger than before.

Examples of keloid treatments include:

  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation
  • Moisturizing oils to keep the tissue soft
  • Using pressure or silicone gel pads after injury
  • Freezing the tissue to kill skin cells
  • Laser treatments to reduce scar tissue
  • Radiation to shrink keloids

Initially, your doctor will probably recommend less invasive treatments, such as applying silicone pads, pressure dressings, or injections. These treatments require frequent and careful application to prove effective. However, keloids tend to shrink and become flatter over time even without treatment.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage keloids?

  • The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope withkeloids:
  • If you are more likely to get keloids, you should avoid skin injuries, ear piercing, and surgery whenever possible. If you need surgery, especially in an area that is more likely to scar, make sure your doctor knows that you may get keloids.
  • Starting some treatments (for example, corticosteroid shots, pressure dressings) right after surgery may help to prevent keloids. If you get your ears pierced, you should wear pressure earrings to reduce scarring.
  • Keloids are often more of a cosmetic concern than a health one. You may feel self-conscious if the keloid is very large or in a highly visible location, such as an earlobe or on the face. Sun exposure or tanning may discolor the scar tissue, making it slightly darker than your surrounding skin. This can make the keloid stand out even more than it already does. Keep the scar covered when you’re in the sun to prevent discoloration.
  • If people have known risk factors for developing keloids, they may need to avoid getting body piercings, unnecessary surgeries, or tattoos.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: August 22, 2017 | Last Modified: August 22, 2017