A keloid is an overgrown area of scar tissue that forms at the site of a previous injury such as an incision, wound, vaccination, acne or piercing. An irregularly shaped pink or red scar that is raised above the rest of the skin, a keloid may grow into areas that were not affected by the initial injury. A keloid is generally painless, but may feel itchy or be sensitive to the touch.
Certain people, including those who have a family history of keloids, and those with darker skin tones, are more prone to developing keloids. African Americans, Latinos and Asians are more likely to develop keloids than people from other ethnic backgrounds. Although keloids can appear anywhere, they usually form on the neck, ears, chest, shoulders and arms.
Most keloids do not require treatment, although some people take advantage of the several procedures that can improve keloids’ appearance and that of the surrounding skin. Some of these treatments flatten keloids, whereas others reduce their redness and size. Most treatments leave an irregular mark or create an uneven texture on the skin. Keloid treatments include:
Although not all keloids can be prevented, the best method of prevention is to avoid injuries to the skin. Avoiding piercings, tattoos and elective surgeries reduces the chance of developing a keloid scar. An existing keloid should be covered by a band-aid or patch, and sunscreen should be used when it is exposed to the sun.
Keloids are not medically dangerous. Many people, however, seek treatment to make their keloids less noticeable.