This patient information and photographs on Keloids and hypertrophic scars are provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? A keloid/hypertrophic scar is scar tissue (sometimes painful) that has grown out
of control. It can occur at any age and can be an unpredictable complication of skin surgery or skin injury. Although they can occur in all races, keloids are more commonly seen in African-Americans. A keloid differs from a hypertrophic scar in that a hypertrophic scar is a thick scar that develops at the site of skin injury; whereas a keloid will spread beyond the injury site involving normal skin which was not originally damaged. The treatment for keloids and hypertrophic scars are similar.
What causes it? Scar formation is a normal healing response to injury of the skin. Why scar formation grows out of control in keloids/Hypertrophic scars is unknown. Certain areas of the skin are more prone to thick scar tissue such as the chest, back, shoulders, ear lobes and jawline. Many people inherit the tendency to be keloid formers. The formation of Keloids/Hypertrophic scars is largely unpredictable.
It is dangerous? For the typical healthy person keloids/hypertrophic scars are harmless, but in some cases they can be symptomatic, disfiguring and rarely disabling. They are not related to cancer and they do not involve internal organs.
If harmless why have treatment? Most people desire treatment for cosmetic improvement. In others whose keloids continue to grow, treatment is directed at slowing or
stopping growth. Still others desire treatment for improvement of itching or pain.
Can it be cured? Many times keloids/hypertrophic scars can be improved with treatment. The degree of improvement is variable and unpredictable. There are many types of treatments available for keloids. A treatment that improves one person may make keloids worse in another. I will try to select a treatment plan that I believe is the best for the size and location of your keloid.
What home care can I do? In some cases scar tissue will improve with silicone application. Some products you can try are Scar Guard and Kelo-cote Scar Gel. This process it very slow to show improvement (months) and does not always work.
Will it spread? Once you have a keloid, you are at high risk for getting more. You should let your doctors know that you are a keloid former before any surgery is done. Cosmetic procedures that produce skin injury (i.e. piercing) should be avoided.
Is it contagious? Keloids are not contagious and you can not "catch" them from anyone.