Keloids are benign or non-invasive growths that arise from scar tissue. They can occur after any skin injury, including cuts, ear piercings, surgery and even acne. The body uses chemicals, called "growth factors," to heal wounds. Keloids are formed when normal growth factors overreact. Even after normal scar tissue forms around the lesion, the growth factors continue to create fibrous tissue and collagen, which can result in the development of a keloid nodule in and around the scar. In some cases, the nodules are large and disfiguring. They can also be painful or itchy.
If you have keloids, your family doctor can perform an initial review of your condition. Depending on the severity of its severity, your doctor can provide treatment or refer you to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the skin, nails and hair.
Keloid treatments are more effective if they are carried out soon after the first growth forms. The doctor can begin the treatment by injecting steroids, a type of prescription medication, into the keloid. Because injections must be done monthly, steroid treatment requires regular visits to your doctor's office. Keloids can also be frozen with liquid nitrogen. The two treatments can be performed simultaneously to improve the results.
Complications can occur in both liquid nitrogen and steroid treatments. These can cause atrophy of the skin, a condition that can produce pitting on the surface of the skin. Liquid nitrogen can lighten the skin, a side effect that is of particular interest to people with dark skin.
If liquid nitrogen and steroid treatments do not work, a plastic surgeon can remove the keloid surgically. A steroid is usually injected into the keloid before, during, and after the procedure. Other experimental treatments have been tried but are not used routinely.
Keloids are more common in people of African and Asian descent. You can minimize your risk by avoiding piercings and tattoos. If a wound occurs, keep it moist with Vaseline and cover it with a bandage so that it does not stick and help wound healing more quickly and possibly prevent the formation of keloids. These have a recurrence rate of 50 percent which means that, after the elimination, in half of the cases another one will be formed.