Keloids are large, irregularly shaped scar tissues that grow mostly on the earlobe, neck, sternum, shoulder, cheek and back area. There are various treatments available to help in reducing the overgrowth of these dense fibrous tissues. Find out the different treatment options for keloid scars in this article.
Keloid scars are basically a mass of collagen formed on the skin, when the healing process of a wound is interrupted. These interruptions could be formation of excess collagen or too little collagen. When there is excess collagen deposition at these places, the collagen grows in a very abrupt and irregular manner, with the skin surface, causing formation of scars. They appear reddish-purple to brown or pale in color, and are rubbery in texture. The skin becomes tender, itchy, painful, and rubber-like scar tissues start appearing near the healed wound.
People who develop these scars initially use various home remedies and over-the-counter creams to get rid of them. However, most of these methods turn out to be ineffective. Agreed, keloid scars are difficult to treat but there are better methods available today for scar removal, which effectively help to manage or slow down the process. The quality of life can also be improved with the help of these treatments.
Before Considering Treatment
There are a few things which need to be taken into consideration before selecting a treatment. The cost factor, reactions to certain medications, previous instances of laser therapy used, etc., are certain factors which need to be discussed with your dermatologist, before undergoing any treatment procedure. People with a history of keloids should avoid getting tattoos or piercing done.
Keloid Scar Treatment
Cortisone injections, also known as intralesional corticosteroid injections, are given to the patient once a month, and discontinued, only when the doctor feels that the purpose is served. After 2-3 injections the skin becomes thinner, and the itching also subsides. The injections aid in flattening out the keloids, and the scars become less intense and shrink gradually. There are chances though, that these steroid injections may help in the formation of extra superficial blood vessels, which could need further treatment. The results may differ from person to person. It has been observed that certain distinct marks remain on the skin which refuse to go away and the patient is suggested to get a laser surgery done. The injections can be painful, and you may notice skin pigmentation and thinning of the skin after taking these injections.
Surgery could be a little risky, as it can cause formation of a larger keloid. To avoid this, a few surgeons inject steroids, provide radiation or dress the wound with pressure dressings after cutting the scar.
Laser treatment is considered as an effective method for removal of keloid scars. In this treatment, the laser is made to move above the scar. This procedure vaporizes the top layer of skin and reveals the layer underneath. Certain potent lasers have the ability to penetrate and destroy even the lower layers of skin, thus stimulating growth of new collagen and causing the scars to shrink. The laser treatment takes around half an hour and is carried out under local anesthesia.
Cold therapy is another way to reduce keloid scars. In this process, keloids are flattened out by freezing them. The most commonly used freezing agent to perform cryotherapy is liquid nitrogen. The skin tends to get dark at places where this therapy is carried out.
The human body’s immune system produces various proteins to counter harmful viruses and bacteria. Interferon is one such protein. Research has proved that these proteins are capable of reducing keloids. The only aspect that doctors are unsure about is, how long will its effect last. An alternative to this method could be applying Aldara cream, an immune response modifier that stimulates the body’s own immune response system, which helps the body fight the problem.
The patient is made to wear silicone gel on the scar every day for a substantial number of weeks. Doctors have found polyurethane self-adhesive patches more helpful for dressing other than silicone, and consider them to be equally effective. Compression earrings are suggested for treating keloids formed on the earlobes. However, there is no guarantee of success in removing keloid scars using silicone sheets.
Other methods include, injecting a chemotherapy agent — fluorouracil — and the use of radiation heat. Both these methods often need to be coupled with laser treatment to get optimum results.
▶ Please Note.– Not all treatments are clinically proven to have the same impact on everyone. The results vary depending on the individual and their current situation.
- The doctor normally suggests to wash the treated area gently with an antibacterial handwash. Wipe it off with a dry, soft towel and apply an antibiotic cream as suggested by the dermatologist.
- Doctors also prescribe certain oral antibiotics to prevent any infection.
- There are certain creams available which help to shrink the scar post treatment, but should only be used after consulting your dermatologist.
- It takes about four days for the skin’s regeneration process to start after treatment.
- The recovery period lasts for a couple of weeks at least and regular visits to the doctor are recommended during this period to ensure a smooth and quick recovery.
- Always consult your dermatologist for products that are safe and effective in reducing the appearance of the scar, without causing any damage to your skin.
It is always recommended to consult a dermatologist before you begin experimenting with various scar removal products that are easily available over the counter. These creams are usually known to work best on scars that are new and small in nature. As time passes, the keloid scars become hard and unyielding, which may make it difficult to deal with. So, it is best to ask your dermatologist about the types of creams and other treatment options available, so as to be sure about what is the best option. Doctors are still researching on why keloid scarring occurs, but one thing is for sure, these scars are not contagious in nature.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that this HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only. It is neither intended, nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.