A keloid is an extra growth of scar tissue over a skin wound. It grows beyond the margins of the skin wound. A keloid can be thick and differ in size from small to large. They are not harmful to overall health.
Keloids are found anywhere on the body. They are more common on:
Back of scalp and neck
Scar tissue is a part of the normal healing process. It grows in an uncontrolled manner. Even if the wound is covered, the scar will grow. The growth can last for weeks or months.
Keloids are more common in people who are Black, Asian, or Hispanic. They are also more likely in people who are aged 10-30 years old.
Your chances of a keloid are higher if you have:
Deep skin wounds such as those from infections, burns, or surgery
Darkly pigmented skin
Family history of keloids
Elevated hormone levels as with puberty or pregnancy
Keloids often begin as small lumps at the site of a skin injury. They gradually grow beyond the edges of the wound.
For most, the scar is the only symptom. Others may have:
Soreness or pain
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. Your answers and a physical exam may point to a keloid. Tests are rarely needed.
Some keloids may go away on their own, but this is rare. Keloids don’t need care unless they bother you.
Care for a large or bothersome keloid may involve surgery, lasers, or shots.
If you have surgery, your doctor may take steps to prevent it from growing back. This may involve:
Corticosteroid shots—Often given with surgery. This is repeated every 3 to 4 weeks for 6 months. Steroids can ease itching and pain. They also slow scar development and cause some shrinking of the keloid in some people.
Medicine may be injected into the area or applied as a cream after the surgery.
Silicone gel sheets—A special material creates a watertight seal over the scar for an extended period of time. The silicone creates a moist, ideal environment for the skin to heal while keeping out bacteria and dirt that may worsen scarring.
Skin hydration (including topical moisturizer) and sunscreen.
Radiation therapy after surgery. This may be limited as an option because it is toxic to healthy tissue.
To help lower your chances of a keloid:
Take steps to protect your skin from trauma.
Care for cuts or scrapes right away.
Avoid unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
Do not tattoo or pierce your ears or other areas of the body.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.