Any kind of skin injury including acne, cuts, or scrapes can at times leave a permanent scar on your skin. In some instances, that scar can grow excessively, becoming a large, lumpy growth, called a keloid, or a hypertrophic scar. Keloids are thick, fibrous scar tissues that have spread beyond the original site of injury during the body’s natural healing process. They develop in 5 to 15 percent of injuries and commonly develop and grow on the chest, back, arms and the upper part of the hand.
Causes and Symptoms of Keloids
The exact cause of keloids is still unknown, but a common scientific belief that when damage tears skin, collagen forms quickly at the injured area as part of the healing process. Keloids occur when an improper amount of collagen growth occurs in a scar. If there is debris in the wound, the collagen fibers will be laid erratically.
Certain hereditary factors can also be held responsible for causing this disease. Formation of keloid scars generally takes place on sites of wounds or skin injuries caused by burns, surgical cuts, traumatic wounds, minor scratches, ear piercing and acne. Individuals with darker skin tone and higher amounts of melanin are more susceptible to formation of keloids.
Apart from the bumpy appearance, these irregular shaped lesions are characterized by symptoms like pain and itching but are not contagious. These lesions can also develop after surgeries or even after minor skin injuries like insect bites. Keloids are troublesome but not malignant (cancerous). This progressive disease can develop either suddenly after an injury or after a few months.
In most cases, keloids are unavoidable. But there are a few steps you can take to minimize the possibility of their formation. It is well known that, even something as simple as ear piercing can produce keloids. Hence, if you know you have a tendency to develop hypertrophic scars, it is best to avoid as many cuts and surgeries as you can.
Furthermore, always keep cuts and wounds clean. Studies have shown that wounds that become infected are more likely to form keloids. Therefore, if you do get injured, be sure to wash them thoroughly and wear a bandage.
Keloids can be removed surgically or by steroid injections injected directly into the scar.
Medication: Medicated creams like those that contain Retinoids can be applied topically to keloids to help them shrink.
Another option is to use a topical solution called ‘scar silicone sheeting’, a frequently chosen topical keloid scar treatment in which, silicone is placed over the scar tissue in order to reduce the number of damaged cells. The benefit of silicone is that it not only protects the scar, but it helps it to retain moisture from healthy portions of the skin, thereby assisting in healing the damaged tissue.
Injections: Steroid injections can be used to help shrink keloids and reduce swelling. A patient will need to get several shots over the course of a few months to complete the treatment.
Surgery: Surgical intervention is often a last resort when it comes to treating keloids. Moreover, surgical removal of keloids may not be curative, since most keloids tend to recur. Better outcome of the treatment has been seen using lasers or liquid nitrogen to burn or freeze the keloid scar.
Natural treatment of Keloid Scars
The most commonly used natural way to remove keloids is by applying pressure to the keloid through Mechanical Compression. Compression treatment helps control the growth of old keloid scars and prevents new scars from developing in individuals who are susceptible to them.
Done by using mechanical compression dressings, this method has been used throughout history to treat keloids. Gentle pressure is applied to the keloid over a specified (often long) period of time, typically 6 to 12 months. The keloid should be flattened and appear smoother after successful removal of the compression device. It is not known how the compression of keloids reduces their appearance, but it is speculated that the compression causes a restriction of blood flow and oxygen throughout the lesion, which reduces the production of collagen.
The mechanical compression dressings are engineered to fit the patient, making it specific to the size and positioning of the scar and to accommodate different pressures depending based on the keloid. This type of dressing is often made of a combination of a stretchy synthetic fabric (known as Spandex fabric), support bandages and zinc oxide adhesive plaster. Compression dressings can also be used along with skin creams and injection therapy for faster results. The dressing will yield the most benefit if worn on a regular basis by the patient.
This may sound like the best option when it comes to getting rid keloids, but this method must be performed, strictly under a doctor’s supervision.
Natural Keloid Scar Treatment Options
Numerous natural ingredients, like herbal extracts and essential oils can be very effective in both the reducing the appearance of keloid scars and prevention of their formation.
Topical Application of Herbal extracts and Natural Oils
- A mixture of Mustard Seed Oil, Rose Essential Oil and Jojoba Oil can be applied to the skin to help get rid of keloid scars and other scars on the body. Mix 1 tbsp. mustard seed oil, 1 tsp. rose essential oil and 8 table spoons of jojoba oil in a small container and shake it vigorously to mix the ingredients. Gently apply a small amount of the mixture to the affected area and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing with cool water and washing with a mild cleanser. Read more about benefits of facial oils.
- Lavender Essential Oil, Calendula Essential Oil and Coconut Oil can also be applied to the keloid scars to reduce the problem. Mix ½ tsp. lavender essential oil, ½ tsp. calendula essential oil and 10 tsp. coconut oil. Shake vigorously to mix. Gently massage a small amount of the mixture to the keloid scar, leave it for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing with cool, clean water and washing with a gentle cleanser.
- A mixture of Vitamin E Oil, Aloe Vera Gel and Cocoa Butter can also reduce keloid scars. Mix 1 tsp. vitamin E oil, 2 tsp. aloe vera gel and 1 tbsp. cocoa butter in a small container, and stir to mix. Apply a thick layer of the mixture to the affected area and leave it on for 30 minutes. Wipe the excess off the skin and allow the rest to dry naturally.
- Mix sandalwood paste with rose water and applied it to the scar. Leave it on overnight and wash off the next morning.
- Using Apple cider vinegar to treat keloids is one of the simplest home remedies. Dilute apple cider vinegar in water and apply this solution on the affected area to cure keloids over a period of time. Follow this therapy for about 15-20 minutes a number of times throughout a day. In case it causes skin irritation then dilute the solution further.
- Applying calendula gel or cream to a scar twice a day reduces inflammation and increases healing in an early keloid scar.
- Massage is also helpful for keloid scars. Although using oils like coconut or mustard oil are most beneficial. A massage of the stiff scars a few times a day to breaks down the tissue and make scars softer.
When you have keloids, life may be tough on you. But remember that isn’t over. There’s hope. We hope our expert Dr Uma Singh’s advice does help you.