While scar tissue serves as a reminder of a previous injury, scrape or cut, a keloid is an overdeveloped scar tissue area. Because keloid tissue grows uncontrollably, the area may begin to itch, swell and become painful, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Understanding how to prevent and treat the painful symptoms that accompany a keloid can help you to find relief.
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Keloid scars develop most often following surgery, injection, body piercing, acne or another occurrence that causes trauma to the skin. These scars develop because the body’s normal response to skin injury is accelerated, causing an increased amount of scar tissue to develop. Those with more darkly pigmented skin, such as African Americans, Hispanics and others, are more likely to experience keloids and keloid swelling. However, these scars can develop in any person.
Swelling is one of the hallmarks of keloid scars. The scar will develop after skin injury and will often swell long after the injury has occurred. The keloid typically is red or darker than the surrounding skin and is raised above the skin. In some instances, the keloid can continue to swell and enlarge long after normal healing time, which can lead to keloids as large as 30 centimeters, according to Skinsight.
You can prevent keloid swelling and occurrence through proper care to the skin following injury, according to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine. If you are at a higher risk because of highly pigmented skin, avoid piercing the skin to reduce your risk of developing keloids. You also should refrain from picking at or scratching lesions such as acne blemishes, insect bites or other injuries. This can stimulate the body’s inflammatory response, resulting in swelling, redness and scar tissue growth.
Keloid swelling can be a discomforting and/or painful occurrence and a cosmetic concern. One way to treat swelling is through the application of pressure bandages, known as silicone gel pads or dressings, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. These are applied over the keloid to soften the scar tissue and reduce inflammation. Other more invasive treatments include cortisone injection, laser therapy and in severe cases, surgical removal. Keloids have a high rate of recurrence, meaning it may be difficult to fully eradicate them.
Using silicone gel pads and creams requires frequent applications over the course of several months. Patients may observe a reduction in the keloid’s size and symptoms after three months or more of daily application, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. If you utilize monthly cortisone injections to reduce swelling, this method may take three to six months to prove effective.