Keloids (large scars on the skin): causes, prevention

Some people have these large scars on the skin (known as Keloids) that they notice just on the spot where they previously had an injury or where they removed a pimple (acne) in the past, and after the place healed, a big scar just came out.

These large scars on the skin usually appear, after weeks to months that the skin injury happened, and sometimes, you may not even remember how you got the injury. The large scar on the skin grows to cover more that the boundary of the original wound/injury and forms a hard, irregular, shiny, sometimes painful or itchy swelling.

These large swellings on the skin is what we refer to in the hospital as Keloid, and this is what we would be discussing today.

Table of Content

What is a keloid?

A keloid is a scar that results after an injury, but grows bigger and wider than the original injury.
The scar is often harmless, that is, it does not become cancer, but sometimes it can cause severe itching and pain.

How do keloids form?

After the skin is injured/wounded, the skin tries to repair itself by producing a substance known as collagen which helps in growing back new skin tissues and covering the wound.
What happens in people with this condition is that, their skin produces excessive amounts of this collagen, which now causes the scar to become thick, fleshy, and raised.

Note that, It may take many months after a skin injury before the large scars appears.

What kind of Injury/wound can cause keloid?

The type of trauma to the skin that can cause this condition are:

Large scars on the skin (keloids)
Sever Acne (Pimples) seen on the face of a young lady can lead to the formation of these large scars on the skin when healing.
  • Severe acne: these are a form of pimples that are larger and more problematic than the common ones. In the hospital, we refer to this type of pimple as Acne Vulgaris. You can read more about pimples here.
  • Skin piercings: This include all those who love to pierce their nose and ears. Such piercing when healing can form large scars on the skin that can even close the entire hole.
  • Surgical incisions: Keloids can also be seen on the place of incision after a surgery. That is, the area of the skin that was cut.
  • Blisters: such as that from a hot oil burn, or even a herpes simplex blister.
  • Minor injury like a scratch.

Generally, any form of damage or injury to the skin can result to a large scar on the skin in vulnerable persons.

Large scars on the skin (keloids)
Large scars on the skin (keloids) on the back of a woman formed after healing of a severe pimple (acne)

How are keloids treated?

Treatment of Keloids is difficult, especially in older scars/wounds. Surgical excising the large scars on the skin may lead to recurrence (that is formation of more scars) and more severe deformity!. Usually the best treatment for this condition is not to let it form by preventing it. However, If the scars has formed already, treatment options include:

  • Freeze it– This is called cryotherapy. It is best used for small scars, such as from acne.
  • Injection: Inject it with corticosteroid.
  • Surgery: to cut it away. Surgery is sometimes used to remove larger keloids. But also note that removing keloids may lead to more keloids.

Other treatments are pressure therapy and laser therapy.

Prevention of Keloids

With all these in mind, the best therapy is always prevention. The best way to do this is to;

  • Avoid unneeded activities that cause trauma to the skin, especially if you are prone to developing keloids or hypertrophic scarring.
  • Inessential activities include ear piercing, tattoos, and cosmetic procedures should be avoided.

Take charge of your health and skin.

Your Skin Sensei,
Dr. HealthThenMore

Authors

  • Dr. Rebecca Omokaro (a.k.a Dr. HealthThenMore) is the founder of HealthThenMore, an online medical community for health professionals and co-founder of Progeny Cerebrum, a unique mentorship community for healthcare students and professionals. She is passionate about skin care and has invested years in studying how multiple skin care products work, having struggled with multiple skin breakouts as a teenager herself. As @dr.healththenmore, she teaches people how to care for their skins with natural and ethical skin care products as well as spread awareness of medical conditions that affect the skin. You can follow her on twitter on: @HealthThenMore

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