What Are Keloids, and What Are Some Treatment Options?

Did you get a piercing or a tattoo that no longer looks like a piercing or tattoo? Maybe your skin is growing a bump over it? If your skin looks like the following, this could be a keloid. 



This is a very unique type of scar that is actually caused by an overproduction of collagen deep within your skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. Normally, we want more of it in our skin because it’s strong and along with elastin it’s stretchy. It helps us look youthful and smoother. But, there can be too much of a good thing, and in the case of keloid scars, too much collagen can be really bothersome.

What are keloid scars?

Keloids need to be diagnosed because they can look very similar to hypertrophic scarring. Well, what’s the difference? Both of these scars are actually an overproduction of tissue deep within the skin. On one hand, hypertrophic scars form along the boarder of where the incision or wound happened whereas keloid scars tend to be outside of that boarder. Keloids grow and continue to grow. They can feel soft and sometimes they can feel really thick. Especially if these keloid scars are over joints or the back of the neck, it can really limit mobility. Some people are genetically more prone to them.

While there appears to be a genetic component to keloid scars, sometimes they happen idiopathically or without explanation. But, most of the time, keloid scars happen after some sort of trauma or wound. Some experts wonder if keloids are caused by an immune system response or overactive fibroblasts, those little cells that are responsible for making this tissue. It’s not completely known, but that’s why it’s so important to see a doctor or dermatologist to make sure it is a keloid scar. You’ll also want to chat about  your best options for treatment.

Keloids can be difficult because there’s really nothing OTC that’s going to make a major difference. But, there are at-home things you can do to increase your chances of the wound healing normally. 

Silicone Pressure Dressing

One of the best things you can get at home especially right after you get a tattoo, piercing, a wound, or any incision, is applying a silicone pressure dressing. These sheets come in different sizes, and they’re especially great if you have a large area of skin that has a very uncomfortable keloid scar. You can stretch this pressure dressing over it, and it basically helps to push this raised keloid into the skin and prevent it from growing further. However, these need to be worn half a day if not all day for multiple months. It’s best to do it right after the wound happens. 

Scar Compression Patches/Sheets -$23.99




Some doctors inject steroids into a keloid scar to help decrease its size. There are things like cortisone and triamcinolone injections. Steroids thin the skin so injecting a steroid can help break down that fibrous tissue. There’s also something called scar revision surgery, but for keloids, this isn’t always the best option. If someone is prone to keloids, this surgery can cause the keloid to happen again. So, see your doctor to set up a treatment plan that works best for you. 

At-home steroids

Prescribed steroids that can be used at home are a great option, especially if you have a lot of itching, scars, and the lesions are burning you. But unfortunately, the cream can penetrate well into a big keloid scar. Although the tissue is dense, the cream can still help with itching. You’ll need advice from a doctor as to when to stop using the steroid cream though.


This is when very cold nitrogen is shot at the skin. This can be very helpful, especially for small areas. But, it needs to be done by a derm.

So, treating keloids is not impossible. There are some experts who are focused on treating keloids, and they’ve gotten near full recoveries. And if you need some inspiration, you can read here aboutthis woman’s journey with keloids and self-image. Seeing other people embrace their skin condition can also help us understand our journey a bit more.


Coverphoto credit: Healthline