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Keloids: What They Are and How to Get Rid of Them

Updated on March 10, 2013

Keloids are scars that continue to grow and become elevated above the surface of the skin, often turning pink or purple in color. Unlike other scars that simply leave a small mark, Keloids can balloon and expand in both length and width. What was once a small scar the size of the head of a pin, can enlarge to the size of a quarter with the thickness of a marble.

Keloids most frequently emerge at the site of piercings (ear, nose, and navel) and in scars that form after surgery. Doctors aren't sure exactly why certain people form keloids and why others don't. They have been able to ascertain that darker skinned people are more prone to forming keloids. Usually keloids grow at the site of a scar stemming from surgery or cutting or scraping of the skin.

There are several options for the treatment of keloids. Those include:

1) Cortisone Injections: In this case, your doctor or dermatologist would inject you with cortisone (intralesion steroids) about once a month to reduce the size of the keloid. Dermatologists and doctors have achieved a great level of success with this method.

2) Radiation: Small doses of radiation administered by a doctor have also been shown to successfully reduce the size of keloids.

3) Laser Treatment: This is one of the costlier methods of treatment and work to remove the keloid entirely. This may require multiple laser treatments to effectively remove the keloids.

4) Cryotherapy: In this procedure, the doctor uses liquid nitrogen to completely flatten the keloid. This is also an effective method, but does tend to leave the original site a darkened shade.

5) Surgery: A doctor may perform surgery to remove the keloid by cutting it out, but this approach, while effective in ensuring that the keloid is completely removed, risks the keloid regrowing from the scar the surgery itself leaves behind.

6) Tea Tree Oil: Applying tea tree oil to the site of a keloid can reduce the size of the keloid.

My Experience with keloids:

The first time I experienced a keloid was shortly after I got my ears pierced at the age of 9 or 10. A few months after getting my ears pierced a small keloid began to form behind my right ear at the site of the piercing. I went to the doctor and underwent a combination of steroid cortizone shots and had to wear a special clip on earring whose sole purpose was to flatten the keloid in size.

Over the course of the next several months, my keloid reduced in size thanks to the treatment and now the only remnants of it that exist is a very small raised area behind my ear that is unnoticeable.

A few years ago I developed two more keloids after two small bumps left behind by a heat rash on the top of my chest near my neck expanded. One of the keloid scars is now the length of a toothpick and about an inch in width. As soon as both of the scars started to grow I made an appointment with my dermatologist who told me that my options were to either get it removed by laser or to get steroid shots. He said neither one guaranteed that they would go away and could, in fact, cause both to grow. I opted for the steroid shots (administered about once a month) and one of the bumps remained small and the second only grew in size.

One treatment that was effective for me was applying tea tree oil onto the site of the keloid. I bought tea tree oil from my local drug store and soaked a cotton ball in it and placed it on the keloid for a few hours over two days and the width of the keloid diminished by almost 50%.

One word of caution: tea tree oil should be applied to your skin, especially your chest, in small doses for short amounts of time. While tea tree has been proven to have healing benefits, and it definitely worked for me, it can also be quite potent and in some cases has caused side effects ranging from chest pain to nausea and vomiting.

The key in treating any keloid is to undergo treatment as soon as it begins to develop and before it grows too big in size. Tea tree oil, if applied as soon as a scar is formed, can prevent it from expanding in length and width.

No matter which form of treatment you think might be right for you after reading this guide, please proceed with caution and consult your doctor or dermatologist for a recommendation to go over which treatments would be best for you.


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