A Keloid is an extensive hard growth of a fibrous tissue (also called as scar tissue), which is formed when your body attempts to heal an injured skin even when it is already healed. It is actually a thick skin or tissue generated due to excessive production of collagen of Type - I in the dermis of humans. Normally, such fibrous tissue is formed in a controlled manner, when the skin is injured and needs repair. When it is produced in more quantity than actually required, it takes the form of a keloid.
The shape of the keloids is irregular and may float around the wound itself. The size of a keloid could be more than that of the original injury or wound. You will be able to see keloids mostly on the shoulders, chest, earlobes, and cheeks. But those are not specific to these body parts and could occur at any part of the body with an injury. However, it is noticed that keloids are least likely to appear on the face of its patients.
The keloids do not impose any kind of harm to your health. However, those are the cosmetic concerns for almost all its patients. The only difference between the normal scars and keloids is that the keloids do not regress on their own, as the normal scars do.
Since the keloids are the result of the overgrowth of fibrous tissues, their symptoms arise at the skin position of some prior injury. Following are the general symptoms of keloids:
- Turning of the normal skin colour to flesh-coloured, either pink or red
- Slightly up-raising of some area on or near to the previously injured skin
- Slight and continual growth of the skin area of prior injury over the period of time
- Itching in the skin area of prior injury
Note that the keloids could spread over a larger area than the initial wound area over the skin. Those may continually grow further over several weeks or even months.
Generally, keloids do not cause any severe harm to your skin, other than the itchy temptation. Rest than that, you would be experiencing uneasiness, sensitivity, or irritation, when those keloids are rubbed with the clothes that you would be wearing. In some rare cases when keloids spread over larger areas of the body, the hard-fibrous tissues may impact your normal and usual routine tasks.
In fact, keloids do not impose any health issues by their own, its patients may feel a little awkward or conscious, when those are larger in a well visible area, like on the wrist or face. When exposed to the sunlight, keloids tend to tan or darken as compared to its surrounding skin, which at times makes its patient feel a bit awkward in going public.
Additionally, children and people with older age are less likely to have keloids on their skin as compared to those in the years of their young age. It is recommended to the patients of keloids to keep those covered in the sunlight to avoid discolouring.
The primary breed places for a keloid are various types of skin injuries, such as:
- Acne Scar
- Chickenpox wounds
- Surgical areas
- Vaccination spots
As per the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, around 10% of global individuals suffer a keloid at some point of time in their life. Both the males and females are equally prone to have keloids on their skin injuries. However, the individuals with a little dark or yellowish skin (like those African-Americans), are more likely to have a keloid on their skin. They have the tendency of up to 15 times of developing the keloids on their skin as compared to those with fairer skin.
Some other factors with which individuals are more likely to get the keloids on their body include being:
- An Asian origin
- A Latino origin
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with age below 30
Keloids are also associated with the hereditary inheritance. It means that those individuals whose either one or both parents have ever faced this problem are more orient to have keloids. Based on the studies and researches, the AHNAK gene plays a crucial role in assessing the probability of developing keloids in the individuals. It means that those individuals who have AHNAK as part of their gene system are more prone to get the keloids on their skin injuries over the others. So, it is recommended that such people should prevent themselves from getting unnecessary piercing, surgery or tattoo on their body.
Note: It is very rare to see patients have both keloids and psoriasis at the same time.
There are certain measures that you must take care after getting an injury over your skin to prevent the formation of keloids. Those include:
- Take complete care of the wound in order to get it healed at the earliest. You may use the silicone gel pressure pads on the area impacted by injury for a quick recovery and avoiding the chances of getting keloids.
- Consume food rich in vitamin E and minerals in good quantity when you have any kind of skin injury. This would ensure faster healing of the wound. The tissues of our body tend to get repaired faster when we eat foods rich in collagen. The vegetables such as cucumber and celery, are a very good source of collagen. Other than those, the green leafy vegetables like cabbage, spinach, and kale also contain a considerable amount of collagen, along with other essential antioxidants like lutein. The foods rich in vitamin C also produce collagen within our body itself. Various food items rich in vitamin C include guava, black currant, red pepper, kiwi, green peppers, orange, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, parsley, pineapple, mango, and more. You must consume those in good amount when getting a wound on any part of your body.
- Avoid unnecessary skin piercings and take care of the injuries, at least when you or either of your parents has the history of getting a keloid in the past.
- It is found by the researches that the most sensitive piercing area in terms of getting a keloid is the back side of your earlobe. This is because that part of your body is in contact with the metal part of the earring. So, in case you have the passion of wearing a pair of earrings for which you would have got your ears pierced, it is strongly recommended to use a pair of earring with the non-metallic back. This minimizes the chances of getting the development of keloids in that area.
- Studies have identified that the formation of a keloid due to ear piercing is much more common amongst kids below the age of 11 years. So, you must take care to not get the ears pierced of your kids below this age, especially if they have the history of keloids in their family.
How is it diagnosed?
Generally, you do not need any medical attention for keloids. However, in case you would see any of the above-mentioned symptoms of those on your body, you may consult your physician, who would visually examine and confirm its occurrence. Note that the continual, excessive and uncontrolled growth of keloids may also be the signs of the skin cancer.
So, if the growth of a keloid is not stopping in a few weeks, or maximum in two months, you must consult a doctor and get it treated, if needed. Once after screening the keloid on your skin, the physician may recommend further to get a biopsy test done for a diagnosis of cancer if needed. In this process, a little tissue sample is extracted from the keloid area and sent for the diagnosis for the occurrence of cancer cells.
Once after the diagnosis and confirmation of keloid, the physician would recommend the correct treatment methodology to be followed. A keloid is the result of the human body’s trying to heal the skin or wound. In case the keloid is grown enough, the doctor would recommend getting it removed through some simple and minor surgery. It happens at times that even after getting a keloid removed, it is re-grown back, which may be larger than that of before the surgery.
Note that the large keloids are very difficult to get treated. Apart from the surgery, the following treatments are carried out the suppress the symptoms of a keloid:
- When there is excessive inflammation, the patient is given the corticosteroid injections to get relieved.
- Some moisturizing ointments or oils could be applied to soften the keloid tissue.
- Some doctors recommend using the silicone gel for applying on to the keloid since it helps to shrink those and also from growing further. The best part is that silicone does not cause any kind of side effect and is almost safe for individuals of all age groups.
- In some cases, the keloid impacted part is frozen for a short period so that the tissue cells over the skin are killed without any side effects.
- The laser therapy treatment could also be undertaken to minimize the intensity of keloid tissues and stop their further growth.
- Radiation therapy could also be used in case the keloids are at multiple places on the body.
There are very rare cases identified where keloids would have caused adverse side effects on the skin or any other part of the body. This is the reason why you may leave it untreated even after years of its diagnosis. The only bad thing may be that many of its patients do not like its appearance of their body.
Else than the appearance part, some patients face little difficulties when the size of keloids on their body grow much with which they may make them face problems in wearing clothes, shoes and more. The only critical thing is to get it diagnosed and confirmed by your doctor.
This is because many people could not differentiate between keloids and skin cancer, which would make them face complications at a later stage. The treatment methodologies for keloids are also not much difficult or expensive. So, in case you have also got such kind of problem, you may get it treated by a good doctor.
Myth #1: Keloid is a preliminary stage of skin cancer
This is absolutely incorrect. Keloid is a disorder with which the growth of tissues over the skin is expanded to an extent. However, in the skin cancer, the growth of the skin cells is unstoppable. If the physician suspects that the scars of the patient’s skin are due to the skin cancer, they may be advised to get a biopsy test done.
Myth #2: Exposure to the sun would help reduce the size and growth of a keloid.
The sunlight never reduces the existing impact or further growth of a keloid. In fact, the exposure to the sunlight tans or darkens the area affected by the keloid. This way, it starts appearing distinctively when compared with its surrounding skin. So, it is recommended for you to be covered in the sunlight in case you are a patient of keloids.
Myth #3: Rubbing the Vitamin E oil would stop the growth of a keloid.
It is true that the Vitamin E oil helps the skin from healing an injury a bit early. However, there are no clinical proofs that it helps in recovering from keloids.
Myth #4: The surgery process for the removal of keloids ensure that they would not reoccur.
This is not necessarily true. At times, keloids are re-grown even after getting those removed through a surgery. Even the size of the new re-grown keloids may be larger than the previous one which was there before the surgery.
Keloids are actually adverse symptoms over your skins, which do not impose any direct health complication by any means. It is, however, very crucial to get it diagnosed and confirmed by a physician even when you are pretty sure about its symptoms. It will be good if you intake vitamin E and minerals in good quantity when you have any kind of skin injury. This would help you in faster healing.