A firm, raised, smooth overgrowth of scar tissue that develops after injury to the skin

  • May run in families; more common in black people
  • Age, gender, and lifestyle are not significant factors

A keloid is an itchy, firm, irregularly shaped overgrowth of scar tissue. Keloids are smooth and shiny, appearing pinkish red on light skin and brown on dark skin. They usually form on the surface of a wound when a defective healing process causes overproduction of the skin protein collagen. Keloids are more common in black people, and susceptibility to them may run in families. If you are prone to the growths, you may find they appear after any kind of skin damage, including cuts, burns, acne, insect bites, tattoos, piercings for jewellery, and minor surgery. Rarely, they form spontaneously with no known cause. Keloids may develop almost anywhere on the body but usually occur on the chest, shoulders, and ear lobes. The growths are harmless, although large keloids may be unsightly.

What is the treatment?

Your doctor may either inject a corticosteroid into the scar tissue, or prescribe tape impregnated with a topical corticosteroid, which can be cut to size and placed over the keloid, causing the scar to shrink. Even with treatment, keloids often take up to a year to fade. Surgery and laser treatment are usually ineffective because the new scar tissue created forms another keloid.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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