Keloid Scars: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Understanding Keloid Scars
Keloid scars are a type of overgrown, thick, raised scar tissue that forms as a result of an abnormal healing process. They often extend beyond the borders of the original wound and can continue to grow over time. Keloids can develop following skin injuries such as burns, cuts, piercings, or even acne. Some individuals are more prone to developing keloids due to genetic factors.
Treatment Options for Keloid Scars
Several treatment options are available for keloid scars, depending on the size, location, and severity of the scar. It’s important to note that keloids can be challenging to treat, and a combination of treatments may be necessary to achieve the desired results. Treatment options include:
- Corticosteroid injections: Intralesional corticosteroid injections, such as triamcinolone acetonide, can help to reduce inflammation, flatten the scar, and alleviate symptoms like pain and itching. This treatment usually requires multiple injections at intervals of 4-6 weeks.
- 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) injections: Another option for treating keloids is the use of 5-FU injections, which may be combined with corticosteroids to enhance their effectiveness. This treatment can help reduce the size of the scar and prevent recurrence after surgical removal.
- Cryotherapy: This treatment involves freezing the keloid with liquid nitrogen, which can help reduce its size and appearance. Cryotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as corticosteroid injections or silicone sheeting.
- Laser therapy: Lasers, such as Excel V 532 long-pulse laser and laser genesis, can help to reduce the size, thickness, and redness of keloid scars. Multiple sessions may be needed to achieve the desired results, and lasers may be used in combination with other treatments.
- Surgical removal: In some cases, surgical removal of the keloid may be necessary. However, there’s a risk of recurrence or even worsening of the scar after surgery. To minimise this risk, surgery is often combined with other treatments, such as corticosteroid injections or radiation therapy.
- Radiation therapy: Low-dose radiation therapy can be used after surgical removal of a keloid to reduce the risk of recurrence. This treatment should be used with caution due to the potential risk of long-term side effects, such as radiation-induced cancers.
- Pressure therapy or silicone sheeting: Applying pressure to the keloid or using silicone sheets or gels can help flatten the scar and reduce its size. This treatment is usually most effective when started early in the scar’s development and used consistently for several months.
- Managing underlying conditions: In cases where keloids are related to underlying skin conditions, such as trunkal acne, managing the primary issue can help prevent the formation of new scars. A dermatologist can recommend appropriate acne treatments, including topical and oral medications, to help control breakouts and reduce the risk of keloid development.
It’s important to work closely with a dermatologist experienced in treating keloid scars, as they can evaluate your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Prevention and Care for Keloid Scars
Preventing keloid formation is an essential aspect of managing these scars. While not all keloids can be avoided, taking certain precautions may reduce the likelihood of their development:
- Minimise skin trauma: Be cautious when undergoing elective skin procedures such as piercings, tattoos, or cosmetic surgeries. If you’re prone to keloids, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider before undergoing any procedure that may cause skin injury.
- Proper wound care: After any skin injury, ensure proper wound care to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. Keep the area clean and protected with a sterile dressing and avoid picking at scabs.
- Silicone sheets or gels: Applying silicone sheets or gels to healing wounds may help prevent keloid formation by providing a protective barrier and maintaining a moist environment that promotes proper healing.
- Sun protection: Protect your skin from sun exposure, as ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause keloids to become darker and more noticeable. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wear protective clothing, and seek shade when outdoors.
In addition to prevention, it’s essential to monitor any existing keloid scars for changes in size, colour, or texture. If you notice any new symptoms, such as pain, itching, or an increase in the scar’s size, consult a dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment recommendations.
When to see a dermatologist
It’s important to consult a dermatologist for keloid scars if experience pain, itching, or discomfort, notice growth or changes in the scar’s appearance, or if the scar impacts your self-esteem or emotional well-being. If over-the-counter treatments have not been successful, a dermatologist can offer advanced treatment options and provide guidance on preventive measures and coping strategies. Early intervention and professional guidance can significantly improve the management of keloid scars and ensure the best possible care tailored to your unique situation.