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A keloid is a growth of extra scar tissue where the skin has healed after an injury.

Alternative Names

Hypertrophic scar; Keloid scar; Scar - hypertrophic


Keloids can form after skin injuries from:

  • Acne
  • Burns
  • Chickenpox
  • 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
  • Radiation
  • Surgical removal
  • Silicone gel or patches

Sometimes these treatments cause the keloid scar to become larger.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

Review Date:11/12/2014
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.

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