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Symptoms and treatment

Scars are a result of the body healing itself from a wound or abrasion such as a cut in the skin from an accident, surgery or a skin condition such as acne. A keloid is an unsightly scar that continues to reproduce cells long after it should, resulting in a raised, enlarged, irregularly shaped scar, pink to bright red in color. A keloid can be painful, itchy and quite tender to the touch on top of being cosmetically unattractive.

Burns and body piercings can also result in keloids which can develop on anyone, although darker-skinned people are more susceptible to them. They tend to run in families, but children and elderly people are less likely to develop them. Keloids rarely appear on the face and occur most of the time on shoulders, back and chest. Keloids are also common to the ear lobes, appearing after piercing and on the back of the ears after otoplasty.

There are several treatments available for those suffering from keloids, although none of them are 100 percent effective:

  • Topical ointments, oils and creams such as vitamin E oil or cocoa butter are supposed to help, but are medically ineffective. Crushing aspirin into a paste and applying to newly formed scars has been known to help.
  • Cortisone injections. The steroid helps to flatten, soften and reduce tenderness of the scar. There is a possibility that the injection could make the scar even redder, but this is a safe treatment, since very little of the steroid gets into the body.
  • Surgery on the keloid can trigger the formation of an even larger scar and is risky. Some physicians use radiation after surgery to help reduce the chance of a keloid forming.
  • Silicone sheets can be placed on the keloid for hours a day, weeks at a time. This can be difficult to keep up with and although some physicians have had success with the flattening of the scar, the silicone can irritate it.
  • Laser resurfacing can be effective in flattening keloids and in reducing the redness. Several sessions are usually needed and can be expensive but there is little to no downtime.

If you are susceptible to keloids, prevention is key. If family members are prone to them, do not get body piercings or tattoos and notify your doctor before any surgeries.

By Sandra Timmons

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