The questions you’ve always wanted to ask about keloids

This is a private article based on private research and should not be considered medical advice. Speak to your GP to get advice relevant to your situation.

The questions you’ve always wanted to ask about keloids
Photo: Quality Stock Arts, Bigstock

Scars are often an inevitable part of the skin’s healing process but for some, scars can be a lot more prominent and embarrassing.

Keloid scars occur as a result of the body producing more collagen than is necessary when trying to heal the skin, leaving you with a scar that is thick, raised and extends beyond the original wound.

When left untreated, keloid scars can continue to grow, which is why wounds should be treated as soon as possible.

Whether you currently have a keloid scar or you simply had a few questions about them, these FAQs should clear up any confusion.

Answers to common questions about keloids

Are hypertrophic scars and keloids the same thing?

Both hypertrophic and keloid scars are raised and relatively thick, creating a visible mark when the skin is injured. Scars are a normal part of the healing process but both these types of scars are the result of an abnormal collagen response to an injury. When the body produces too much collagen, a scar can become much larger and thicker than it needs to be. The key difference between a keloid and a hypertrophic scar is that keloids will grow beyond the edges of the original injury and will continue to grow should they not be treated.

Would I ever be able to contract a keloid from someone else?

No, keloid scars are not contagious in the least. They are just like any other scar, just raised and larger.

Are certain people more prone to developing keloids?

Both men and women can develop keloids but they are more common amongst those with darker skin tones. Around 10 – 15% of the world’s population is at risk of developing keloids.

Are keloids treatable?

There are a number of different treatments options for keloids that are both safe and effective but injectable treatments that contain cortisone or steroids have proven to be the most effective. Laser treatments, cryotherapy, radiation and surgery are other options that can be used to reduce or remove a keloid scar. Unfortunately, with surgery, there is always a chance that the scar will return and additional surgeries will be required. In most cases, you will never be able to completely remove a keloid but injectable treatments are the best way to reduce the size and appearance of these unique scars. Check the keloid treatment details at The DOC clinic website for more information on this option.

What causes a keloid to form?

Whenever the skin is injured, a scar will form but in most cases, scars are flat and faded. Scars are formed when the body produces collagen after the dermis is injured but in some cases, too much collagen is produced, which is when keloid scars can form.

Some research shows that higher melanocyte concentrations in the skin of Hispanic, African and Asian people are what increase their risk of developing keloids. However, there are other reports that show that people have a genetic predisposition to keloids.

What do keloids consist of?

Just like any other scar, keloids are made up of collagen fibres, just far more of them than a hypertrophic or atrophic scar. Once the skin has been damaged, collagen 3 granulation fibres are produced. Thereafter, collagen 1 fibres will begin to multiply – these are the fibres that form later in the healing process.

Is there a way to avoid keloids completely?

If you know that you’re prone to scarring, the only way to prevent them from forming is to avoid skin injuries and to seek treatment for wounds in a timely manner. Avoiding body piercings and tattoos is also recommended.

Will my keloid removal procedure be covered by insurance?

Unfortunately, it’s very uncommon for insurers to cover any type of procedure that is being performed for cosmetic reasons. Unless your keloid is affecting your health and wellbeing, chances are you will need to cover the cost of the procedure yourself.

What kind of doctor will be able to remove a keloid scar?

In most cases, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist for the removal of any keloid scars. Dermatologists specialise in skin conditions and blemishes and are the most qualified to perform these types of treatments.

What can I expect during my keloid scar removal appointment?

Injectable treatments for keloid scars are very quick and straightforward. Once the area has been cleaned and numbed, steroids or cortisone will be injected directly into the scar. The substances in the injections will slowly start to soften the scar but at least 3 – 5 treatments will be required before the scar begins to flatten.