What are keloids?

Keloids are raised scars that grow beyond the edges of the original scar. Keloids commonly occur on the chest, lower legs, upper back, along the jaw line and the earlobes.

What causes keloids?

When your skin is damaged in an injury, fibrous scar tissue develops over the wound to repair the skin. This tissue sometimes builds into a scar much larger than the original wound, creating smooth, hard formations known as keloids. Most skin injuries can cause keloids, including acne scars, burns, chickenpox scars, body piercings, surgical incisions and deep scratches.

How dermatologists diagnose keloids

Your dermatologist will identify keloids by the size and texture of the scar during a physical exam. Keloids consist of a tough, fibrous protein called collagen, which be identified by a visual inspection of the affected area. Your dermatologist may also ask questions about your medical history. Round, puffy scars may be keloids, especially if they are painful or itchy.

How dermatologists treat keloids

There are a variety of treatments your dermatologist may recommend depending on the size, location and severity of the keloids.

For mild or smaller keloids, your dermatologist may recommend over-the-counter topical gels containing silicone, which prompts the body to shrink collagen and repair blood vessels that cause the keloids to appear swollen and red.

Corticosteroid injections directly into a keloid may reduce its size. Corticosteroids break down the bonds holding collagen fibers together, so there is less scar tissue growing beneath the skin. Corticosteroid injections may also reducing itching, swelling, tenderness and redness.

Your dermatologist may also recommend laser treatments to correct skin tones and reduce discoloration in keloids. Treatments such as dermabrasion and surgical removal are not recommended for keloids.

If you have a skin lesion that is concerning for a keloid, click here to schedule an appointment with our board-certified dermatologists or walk into Walk-in Dermatology at your convenience for your evaluation.