A keloid is an area of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar or injury. Keloids are often the result of any kind of trauma to the skin’s surface — including surgery, injury, piercing or tattoo. If you start treatment 7-10 days after the injury occurs, it can help reduce the risk of keloid scar formation. Keloids differ from normal scar tissue in composition and size. For example, compared to hypertrophic scarring, which takes place at the center of the wound site, keloids occur around and outside the boundary of the wound, wherever healthy skin cells are.
You will be able to identify a keloid because of its firm, raised and almost shiny appearance on your skin. It can be extremely hard to catch these right in the beginning of their formation because you may think it is part of the normal healing process. As they grow larger and change in appearance they become easier to identify. Keloid scars are, for the most part, not painful. However, they do tend to be extremely itchy. Most commonly they develop on the arms, ears, lower legs, mid-chest, and neck. After the closure of your wound, the keloid may take years to develop and on occasion they have been found to continue to grow indefinitely.
Some people are more prone to developing keloids than others, as the tendency is considered to be hereditary. People with darker skin are 15 to 20 times more likely to develop keloids after an injury. Keloids are also more common in people younger than 30, in pregnant women, and in teens during puberty. Keloids have a high recurrence rate, so proper and consistent treatment is imperative to the healing process. They are difficult to treat and complete elimination of scars is rare, but immediate treatment will help prevent scarring from getting worse. Here is what you need to know about healing a keloid scar.
The larger the keloid, the more difficult it is to treat. If at all possible, catching this type of scar in its early stages is extremely important if you want to reduce the scar. Corticosteroid injections and laser are commonly used to shrink large keloids. Surgical revision of the scar is usually a last resort because keloids are very likely to reappear. Here are some of the most commonly used and effective techniques:
- Cryotherapy. This process involves temporarily freezing the affected area. Statistics reveal that cryotherapy is particularly effective in reducing newer and thinner keloids.
- Lasers. Some physicians use lasers to minimize the presence of keloid scars. This method is only effective with certain types of keloid scars. Those resulting from surgical procedures rarely benefit from laser treatment.
- Pressure. Applying pressure against the site of the affected area via wraps and pressure garments may minimize the development of keloid scars.
- Steroid Injections. There is an anti-inflammatory element in steroids which may help to treat keloids resulting from inflammation. Most often, steroid injections are used to treat smaller keloids.
- Surgery. Occasionally, a keloid scar can be reduced through surgery. Physicians usually turn to surgery as a last resort, because research shows that after surgery alone, keloids recur 50%-100% of the time. The use of additional measures on the fresh incision left after keloid removal may decrease the chance of recurrence. The physician may recommend pressure garments, topical silicone gel and sheets or injectable corticosteroids as a preventative measures.
- Radiation Treatment. Although controversial due to the possible side effects, researchers may use radiation therapy in an attempt to prevent keloid scarring from returning after the original keloid was surgically removed. This strategy involves destroying cells at the scar sites, which can prohibit the abnormal growth. Of 37 keloids treated by surgical removal followed by radiation, only 7 sites developed new keloid scars.
Dermatologists, plastic surgeons and other medical specialists have been using silicone since the 1980s to prevent and treat hypertrophic and keloid scars. Thousands of patients have participated in clinical trials of silicone scar products, with their results published in respected, peer-reviewed, medical journals. NewGel+ is one highly respected brand of silicone scar treatment products. The products have been on the market for more than 10 years with a proven track record of effectiveness. Use of silicone gel products has been proven to reduce the visibility of keloid scars, especially when treatment is begun early.
Silicone regulates the microenvironment in wounded skin to encourage that the proper amount of collagen is produced during the healing process. This keeps the scar softer and flatter. Regulation of hydration also improves patient comfort because the wound doesn’t dry out. Silicone protects wounds from bacteria, preventing infection. There are many good reasons to start using silicone products to decrease the effects and appearance of all scars, new and old. They are safe for all ages and customisable for your unique situation.