A scar is the result of the body’s natural response to trauma to the skin. There are many types of scars. In this article we will focus on Keloidal Scars (Keloids). A Keloid is an abnormal scar that grows beyond the original site of trauma to the skin. These scars occur when Fibroblasts over produce collagen. The resulting thick, rubbery nodules are often very itchy and or painful. In some cases they might even affect movement, especially when they occur on or near a joint.
Keloidal Scars can occur anywhere on the body to persons of all ages. That said, they are less common among children under the age of 11 and they appear to be most common among people with darker colored skin. They can result from any form of trauma to the skin such as pimples, burns, surgeries, insect bites, etc. It is believed that the tendency to form these unsightly scars is hereditary. For those that are prone to developing Keloidal Scars a preventive approach is recommended. Specifically, avoiding unnecessary risks such as ear piercing and tattoos would be wise.
While it is not entirely known how or why Keloids form, studies are being done to help experts gain a better understanding in hopes that such knowledge will lead to more effective treatments. Currently there is no treatment for Keloids that is considered to be 100% effective. There are however several treatment options available that can be effective depending on the specific circumstances. It is important to note that invasive treatments, such as surgery involve the risk of the scar returning and becoming more prominent than it originally was.
Excision – Involves the use of a round, sharp, cookie cutter like tool. The tool comes in various sizes so the physician can match it to the size of the scar he or she is treating. Following anesthesia, the scar is removed and the edges of the skin are pulled together & sutured.
Cryosurgery – Involves use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the scar off. Immediately after being applied to the scar, cell death begins.
Radiation – Usually only used in the most extreme of cases.
Steroid Injections – Injection of steroids directly into the scar tissue. The treatment is usually repeated once a month or so until maximum results are achieved. Steroids may help decrease the size of the scar but in some cases may also make it appear more red due to stimulation of blood vessels.
Laser Treatment – Involves using high energy light to remove or remodel unwanted or damaged skin, layer by layer. With this procedure full results may not be seen for several weeks. Theoretically during this time collagen in the skin will remodel and smooth out the surface of the scar.
Over the Counter Creams Gels and Sheets – There are numerous over the counter products available for the treatment of scars, some of them claiming to remove scars in as little as a few days or weeks. While there is evidence suggesting that some of these products work, it is important to do a littler research prior to spending your hard earned money on one of them. Some of them are legitimate treatment products while others are copy cat products designed to make a quick buck for their manufacturers.