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You may know someone who has a growth that looks like this.
This is a keloid. Keloid is an overgrowth scar tissue that develops around a wound usually after a wound has healed. It is more common than you think. When skin is injured, scar tissue forms over the wound to repair and protect the injury. In some cases, it grows excessively and forms a keloid. The cause is not known.
Are keloids dangerous?
Keloids are harmless. However, they can cause cosmetic concerns, especially if they form on the exposed areas like chest and face. Sun exposure may discolor the scar tissue, making keloids appear darker than the surrounding skin. They can cause social and psychological distress.
How do I get rid of them?
A keloid scar may shrink over time but rarely disappears completely. Treatment is not necessary if you could live with a small scar which is tucked out of sight. However, if you are concerned, it can be treated.
Steroid injection is by far the most effective way of getting rid of keloids. Most keloids respond to injection of a steroid called triamcinolone into the scar. It is very safe, and pain is minimal. It can be done on the same day visit.
Injections are usually given once every 4 to 8 weeks until the keloids flatten. It takes some time for the keloid to respond to steroid injection. More than 1 injection is needed most of the time. Do note that the discolouration may not go away. Even the best results leave a mark that looks and feels different from the surrounding skin.
For those who dislike needles, laser treatment is available for keloid treatment. Laser treatment can reduce the pigmented colour of the keloid, but not very effective in shrinking the keloid. Nd:YAG lasers and pulsed dye lasers are usually used to give the best results whilst having few side effects. Several sessions are needed to give the desired results. Not all keloids respond well to laser treatment.
Cryotherapy is the use of cold liquid nitrogen to freeze the scar tissue. It can be used alone or in combination with other treatments especially steroid injections. However, it can cause pale areas at the site of treatment.
A dressing which applies pressure can be used. The dressing must be used for 12 to 24 hours a day for many weeks. Therefore, it is not ideal for keloids that appear on exposed areas. The efficacy is debatable.
This is risky. Removal by surgery can result in an even bigger scar if you already are prone to keloid formation. Therefore, a steroid injection or laser treatment is usually recommended.