Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Keloid Scars
A keloid (say "KEE-loyd") is a scar that grows bigger and wider than the original injury. Keloids most commonly grow on the breastbone, shoulder, upper chest and back, earlobes, and face.
Keloids do not become cancer. But they can be bothersome or painful enough that you seek treatment. Keloids often grow back after treatment.
It's possible to prevent a keloid from forming if you take steps to protect the skin after it is damaged.
Keloids can form where the skin is damaged, such as by a surgery cut, a piercing, a burn, chickenpox, or acne. Thick tissue grows up and out from the healing area, making the scar bigger than the original injury. For some people, even a scratch can lead to keloids.
Keloids do run in families, and they rarely grow in light-colored skin. Experts think that keloids may be linked to a gene that is linked to dark skin pigment.
Keloids look like firm, raised, hard scars. They grow larger over time. Their colors vary from slightly pink to very dark.
Keloids can rub against your clothes and become irritated, itchy, or painful. When exposed to the sun, they may turn darker than the rest of your skin. The dark color may stay.
There is no sure cure for keloids, but treatment sometimes improves how they look and feel. It is common for keloids to grow back after treatment.
When trying to treat a keloid, your doctor may need to use more than one type of treatment. Based on a keloid's size and location, and how soon it is treated, your doctor may:
Radiation tends to be reserved as a last option for treating keloids. There is a chance that it can cause cancer.
Your health insurance may cover some keloid treatments, but not others. Your treatment also may not be covered if the insurance company thinks it's being done only to improve how the scar looks (cosmetic reasons).
If you tend to get keloids, it's best to avoid body piercings, tattoos, or any surgery you do not need. Keloids can grow after these procedures.
To prevent keloids after a minor skin injury, start treating it right away. This may help it heal faster and with less scarring. Using the following tips to treat the area may help prevent keloid growth.
Current as of: April 1, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineEllen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
Current as of:
April 1, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.