- Keloids are scars that appear raised because of excess scar tissue.
- You can prevent keloids by avoiding touching new wounds and applying silicone bandages to protect them.
- You can remove keloids through steroid injections, cryotherapy, leaser therapy, and more.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
If you have a raised, firm, thick scar that won't go away in an area where your skin has undergone some type of injury or trauma, you may have a keloid.
The appearance of a keloid can vary greatly depending on the individual, the size of the injury to the skin, and their skin tone. The main signs of a keloid are:
- Thick, raised skin that may look lumpy
- Firm or rubbery texture
- Red, purple, or brown (depending on your skin tone)
Here's how keloids form and what you can do to get rid of them.
How do keloids form?
If your skin is injured, your body produces collagen to form scar tissue. But sometimes, your body produces too much collagen — leading to a raised keloid. Nada Elbuluk, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Keck Medicine of USC and director of the USC Skin of Color and Pigmentary Disorders Program.
Anything that causes trauma or inflammation of the skin can lead to scarring, and excessive scarring in the case of people who are prone to keloids. Elbuluk says causes of keloids can include:
- Bug bites
- Surgical incisions
Not everyone will develop keloids when their skin undergoes trauma. However, certain people are prone to developing keloids, says Ida Orengo, MD, professor of dermatology and medical director of the Department of Dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. She says these people include:
- Those who have had a keloid before
- Those who have a family history of keloids
- People of color
- Younger people (under the age of 30)
How to get rid of keloids
Ideally, you should try to prevent keloids from forming in the first place. Orengo says some ways you can do this are:
- Preventing injuries
- Avoiding getting piercings or tattoos if you know you're prone to keloids
- Avoiding touching or itching any new wounds as to not disrupt the healing process
- Applying silicone bandages on wounds
However, if a keloid does form, there are various treatment options available, and the course of action will depend on the size and location of the keloid, says Orengo. Keloid treatment options include:
- Steroid injections: Steroids can be injected directly into the keloid, reducing inflammation and shrinking the scar, Orengo says.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy, or freezing the keloids using liquid nitrogen is another option, says Orengo.
- Laser therapy: Lasers can be used to get rid of keloids by modulating the collagen production and targeting blood vessels that may be feeding the keloids, says Elbuluk.
- Surgery: If your dermatologist decides that the keloid's placement and size are a good fit for surgery, the keloid may be surgically removed, says Elbuluk.
- Radiation therapy: In the most severe cases where keloids are large and extensive, low level radiation therapy may be conducted, Orengo says.
Keloids are raised firm scars that are larger than the initial area of trauma. If not treated, they may grow over time. "The earlier you can get treatment, the better. If you notice that your scar is becoming very thick and very itchy or painful, that's when you want to go [see a doctor]," says Orengo.
The longer you wait, the more established the keloid may become, and the harder it will be to treat. Once you see your doctor, you can determine which specific treatment plan will be right for you.