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Keloid scars are large, thick, often itchy overgrowths of scarring that happen to the skin usually at the specific site of injury. Keloids happen where surgery, injections, body piercing, acne or some trauma occurs. These types of scars are usually darker or redder than the skin around it. Keloid scars form from an excess of collagen produced by the body in response to a wound. Sometimes the keloid scarring continues to swell after an injury, and may become larger for some time after the wound occurs.
Keloid scars are different from other scars due to their unusual swollen appearance. Keloids occur most commonly on the breastbone, earlobes and shoulders, but may occur anywhere and in several places on the body.
Certain types of people are more prone than others for getting keloid scarring. Keloids tend to develop in persons with darker skin tones (African Americans, Hispanics, and other darker toned skin coloring) and/or who have a family history. They also usually only occur between the ages of 10 and 30 with a decrease in probability as you age. Keloid scars affect both males and females at the same rate, though those with pierced ears may be in a higher risk category. Take particular care of your skin and avoid piercing or tattooing, especially if you are in the keloid risk category.
There are several ways to reduce or conceal keloid scars. There is some risk, however, in treating keloids because they have a tendency to get larger or resist treatment, especially with surgery.
One common way to treat keloids is by injecting them with steroids, which tend to ease itching, swelling, and burning. Keloid scars can also be treated through incisions and stitches. In either case, the surgery is generally mild and can be undertaken without risk to the patient. There are also certain pressure garments that can be worn on the scar in order to reduce their swelling.
In more serious cases, a keloid treatment may involve skin grafts. Grafting the skin in a person with a keloid scar is risky, however, because the area that the skin was taken from may develop a keloid in response.
All keloid scarring runs the risk of recurrence, growth, or spreading. Discuss all of your options in treating keloid scars with a board certified plastic surgeon before making an informed decision.