What is Keloid Scarring and How Can it Be Treated?
Many people have heard the term keloid scars, but few actually know what is keloid scarring, why and when does it occur or how can it be treated. Defined as abnormal scarring that goes beyond the initial boundary of a skin injury, keloid scars appear as a raised and undefined skin growth around damaged skin. Anybody can develop keloid scars, however certain ethnic groups such as African Americans or Hispanics are at higher risk.
The areas of the body which are most susceptible to keloid scars are the deltoid region of the upper arm, the upper back and the sternum, the earlobes and the back of the neck. Still, what is keloid scarring may no longer be a mystery, but why or how keloid scars occur is yet to be fully explained and understood.
The most common factor causing keloid scars appears to be skin trauma, however such scars can form even when there seems to be no apparent cause. The most common sites of keloid scar formation – upper arm and back – indicate that skin and/or muscle tension also contribute to keloid formation. On the other hand, if it were as simple as skin and/or muscle tension other sites such as the palm of the hand should be equally vulnerable, and this is not the case. Other contributing factors may include a wound site infection, repeated trauma to the same site, or a foreign body within a wound. In addition, there seems to be a genetic factor as well contributing to keloid scarring – if someone in your family has keloids it would put you at increased risk of developing this condition.
Meanwhile, other theories blame a deficiency or excess in melanocyte hormone – MSH, increased soluble collagen and decreased levels of mature collagen, or a blockage of very small blood vessels which results in a lack of oxygen, contributing to keloid formation.
The fact that we do not yet have a clear and definite theory on the condition demonstrates that we still do not fully understand what is keloid scarring, but there is more work under way aiming to find the cause of such formations. Determining the exact cause will likely allow better preventative medicine, as well as more effective treatments in the future. For now, however, there are various issues regarding proper follow-up of affected individuals, especially considering the high rate of recurrence – up to 50%. Currently there are three options for treating keloid scarring: surgical removal, non-surgical treatments or a combination of surgical and non-surgical treatments. Consult with a health professional and make sure you understand all implications before deciding on one treatment option over the other.