A keloid is a growth of extra scar tissue where the skin has healed after an injury.
Hypertrophic scar; Keloid scar; Scar - hypertrophic
Keloids can form after skin injuries from:
- Ear piercing
- Minor scratches
- Cuts from surgery or trauma
- Vaccination sites
Keloids are most common in people ages 10 to 20, and in African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Keloids often run in families. Sometimes a person may not know what injury caused a keloid to form.
A keloid may be:
- Flesh-colored, red, or pink
- Located over the site of a wound or injury
- Lumpy or ridged
- Tender and itchy
- Irritated from friction such as rubbing on clothing
A keloid will tan darker than the skin around it if exposed to sun during the first year after it forms. The darker color may not go away.
Exams and Tests
Your doctor will look at your skin to see if you have a keloid. A skin biopsy may be done to rule out other types of skin growths (tumors).
Keloids often do not need treatment. If the keloid bothers you, these things can be done to reduce the size:
- Corticosteroid injections
- Freezing (cryotherapy)
- Laser treatments
- Surgical removal
- Silicone gel or patches
Sometimes these treatments cause the keloid scar to become larger.
Keloids usually are not harmful to your health, but they may affect how you look. Sometimes they become smaller, flatter, and less noticeable over time.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- You develop keloids and want to have them removed or reduced
- You develop new symptoms
When you are in the sun:
- Cover a keloid that is forming with a patch or Band-Aid.
- Use sunblock.
Continue to follow these steps for at least 6 months after injury or surgery for an adult, or up to 18 months for a child.
Imiquimod cream can be used to prevent keloids from forming after surgery, or from returning after they are removed.
Juckett G, Hartman-Adams H. Management of keloids and hypertrophic scars. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(3):253-260.
Romanelli R, Dini V, Miteva M, et al. Dermal hypertrophies. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 98.
Ud-Din S, Bayat A. New insights on keloids, hypertrophic scars, and striae. Dermatol Clin. 2014;32(2):193-209.
Reviewed By:Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.