Keloids refer to scar tissues that overgrow and become much larger than the original wound. They usually form at the area of skin injury. Although it is common for a scar to become slightly thick and raised, keloids tend to spread beyond the original area of skin damage and may become permanent.
They tend to form where surgery, trauma, acne, vaccinations, blisters, or body piercings have injured the skin. Sometimes, keloids can even develop spontaneously without any obvious trauma to the skin.
Apart from being cosmetically disfiguring, development of keloids may also cause itchiness and pain. Keloids form most often on the back, chest, earlobes, jawline and shoulders. They rarely develop on the face.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can develop keloids, but research shows that individuals of Asian, African or Hispanic descent are more prone to the scars. The study indicates that dark-skinned people are 15 times more likely to develop keloids compared to their light-skinned counterparts.
Keloids are equally common in men and women. However, they are less common in children and the elderly. In some rare cases, the tendency to develop keloids tends to run in families.
What Causes Keloids?
The exact cause of keloids is not fully understood, but most of them tend to form in areas where there is an overproduction of the skin’s structural protein known as collagen. While skin trauma appears to be the most common trigger for keloid formation, these scars can also form for no apparent reason.
Skin tension seems to contribute so much to keloid formation since they commonly form on the upper arm and back. But if that was the primary cause, you would expect other sites such as the soles of the feet and the palm of your hand to be just as vulnerable; however, that isn’t the case.
Infection at the wound site, skin tension, and repeated trauma to the same skin area are contributing factors as well. There is also a genetic component to keloids. If someone in your family has keloids, you are at a higher risk of developing the scars as well.
Keloids will most likely appear in areas of previous trauma, but they extend beyond the injured area. They are usually shiny, smooth and rounded. Keloids may appear as pink, brown, or purple skin elevations and can be doughy to touch.
While growing, these scars may feel itchy, prickly, and sore. However, once they stop growing, they no longer feel uncomfortable but may restrict movement if they form over or near a joint.
No tests are needed to diagnose keloids. An experienced dermatologist will diagnose a keloid by its appearance and a history of skin injuries such as body piercing, surgery, or acne.
In rare occasions, a small skin sample may be removed for examination under the microscope, if the appearance of the growth is atypical for keloid or there is no prior history of trauma to the skin. This process is referred to as skin biopsy and may be undertaken under local anesthetic.
Keloid Scar Removal Treatment Options Available in India
There is no single treatment method for keloids that is 100% effective. Your doctor may combine two or more treatment methods to achieve the best results. If you discover that you have developed keloids, the earlier you start treatment, the better.
This treatment option comes in two distinct forms; topical steroids and the injection of steroid locally. During steroid injections, a dermatologist will inject a corticosteroid solution directly into the keloid.
The primary purpose of this solution is to help prevent growth and reduce the size of the keloid. Steroids break the bonds between the dense collagen fibers which help to reduce the amount of scar tissue beneath your skin.
These steroids have potent anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce itching, swelling, and redness. Steroids injections are administered in a dermatologist’s office.
CO2 Laser Therapy
A dermatologist may recommend the use of CO2 laser treatment to reduce discoloration and redness in mature keloids. This treatment option is also used to correct uneven skin tone caused by keloids and minimize the appearance of stretch marks as well.
Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy
This is an effective treatment method for reducing redness and discoloration in scars. The pulsed dye laser treatment uses a highly focused beam of light on the scarred areas.
Laser therapy may be uncomfortable for some people, and topical anaesthetic cream can be applied to reduce the pain. Your dermatologist will recommend on the number of sessions you need to attend depending on the severity of your condition.
One of the most effective ways of dealing with keloids is combining more than one treatment option. A combination of steroid injections and pulsed dye laser treatments is sometimes recommended.
The steroid injections will reduce scar formation and inflammatory response while the pulsed dye laser treatment reduces blood supply to the area.
Is Surgical Treatment for Keloids Recommended?
While some people believe that surgical treatment for keloids could be the most effective way of getting rid of keloids, its cons outweigh the benefits. The recurrence rate is as high as 60%, and the scars may be worse off after surgery. A combination of various non-surgical treatment methods yield better results and is a safer approach.
Keloids can be difficult to treat since they are scar tissue. Different skin injuries such as surgery, body piercing, vaccination, burns, and acne scars can lead to keloids formation. Although everyone is at risk of developing keloids, they are more common in dark-skinned individuals and those of Asian descent.
The primary goal of the various keloid treatment options is to alleviate any pain, prevent itching and therefore prevent further growth of the scar, as well as cosmetic improvement so that they appear more like the surrounding skin.