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Keloids - Facts and Information

  • Published: 2009-11-15 : Author: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Keloids can differ in their size location as well as their shape, and are common on hands forearms or ear lobes.

Main Document

A, "Keliod," is a form of enlarged growth or scar at the site of a wound or cut which extends beyond the confines of the original wound. Keloids can differ in their size, location, as well as their shape, and are common on hands, forearms or ear lobes.

An ear piercing, for example, may result in a keloid. On occasion, a keloid can happen spontaneously, particularly on a person's chest. Some people may develop scars that are keloid-like on their necks or backs; the area might itch should it become infected. Keloids have the potential to grow and should be treated by a dermatologist, who can remove them through pressure, cortisone injections, surgery, or laser treatments. A keloid can return, despite treatment.

Keloids are the product of a wound or cut and are not contagious. They might be thought of as a scar that keeps on building. Keloids are sometimes referred to as, 'keloid scars,' and tend to rise abruptly above the rest of the person's skin. They are commonly smooth at the top and either purple or pink in color. Keloids enlarge at a progressive rate and also tend to be irregular in shape. One of the differences between a keloid and the more usual form of scar is that keloids do not subside with time.

Once a person's skin is injured a healing process usually leaves them with a flat scar. At times this scar is thickened or, 'hypertrophic,' yet remains within the confines of the margin of the person's wound. These scars are commonly redder in color and subside, although the process may take even a year or more. Treating this kind of scar with cortisone injections can speed up the process of healing.

A keloid, on the other hand, can begin at some point after the person's injury and extend past the site of the wound. The tendency to migrate into areas that surround the wound, areas that were not injured, distinguishes a keloid from a hypertrophic scar. A keloid usually appears after either an injury or surgery, although they may also appear on their own, or as the result of a slight inflammation such as acne - even if the person has not scratched or otherwise irritated their skin. Minor injuries such as piercings or burns can initiate a keloid.

Causes of Keloids

The medical community does not understand the exact reasons why keloids form in some people or in some situations, while not in others. There is the potential that changes in cellular growth signals which control both growth and proliferation might be related to the process of the formation of keloids. These changes have yet to be characterized through the scientific method.

Keloids do not discriminate based on gender - they are equally common among both men and women. In the past, the practice of both earlobe and body piercing has found more women developing keloids. Children and older people are less likely to develop a keloid, although they can develop in persons with all skin types. Sometimes, keloids seem to run in families.

Unfortunately, the fact that medical science does not know the exact reasons why keloids form in some people and not others means that the best way to deal with a keloid is not to get one in the first place. In other words, a person who already has a keloid should choose not to have elective surgery, or get their ears pierced, or pursue body piercing. Prevention is crucial because treatment is not always completely successful, or may not work at all.

Removal of Keloids

There are a number of forms of treatment for keloids. Some of them are considered to be newer than others. Keloids can be reduced in size through:

Radiation
Laser treatments
Surgical removal
External pressure
Freezing (cryotherapy)
Corticosteroid injections

Cortisone injections: Cortisone injections are safe and fairly painless. The injections are usually administered once per month until the maximum benefit is obtained. Injections are safe and usually help flatten keloids. Steroid injections can also make the flattened keloid redder by stimulating the formation of more superficial blood vessels. The keloid may look better after treatment than it looked to start with, but even the best results leave a mark that looks and feels different from the surrounding skin.

Surgery: Surgery is risky because cutting a keloid may trigger the formation of a similar, or even larger keloid. Some surgeons achieve success through injecting steroids or applying pressure dressings to the wound site after cutting away the keloid. Administering radiation after surgical excision has also been used.

Laser: Using a pulsed-dye laser can be effective at flattening keloids and making them look less red. This form of treatment is safe and not very painful, although several treatment sessions might be needed. The treatments can be costly, since such treatments are not generally covered by insurance plans.

Silicone sheets: This form of treatment involves wearing a sheet of silicone gel on the affected area for several hours a day, for weeks or months, which is hard to sustain. The results are variable as well. Some doctors claim similar success with compression dressings made from materials other than silicone.

Cryotherapy: Freezing keloids with liquid nitrogen might flatten them, but many times darkens the site of treatment.

Interferon: Interferon's are proteins that are produced by the body's immune systems that help fight off viruses, bacteria, and other challenges. In studies, injections of interferon have shown promise in reducing the size of keloids, although it's not yet certain whether the effect will be lasting. Current research is underway using a variation of this method, applying topical imiquimod, which stimulates the body to produce interferon.

Fluorouracil: Injections of this chemotherapy agent, either alone or together with steroids, have been used for treatment of keloids.

Radiation: Some doctors have reported safe and effective use of radiation to treat keloids.

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