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June 25, 2013
Star Health


 

Dealing with keloid scars

Dear Readers,

Cynthia writes from Stony Hill with a skin problem. Years ago she was in a car accident and received several small but plentiful cuts to her chest from flying glass from the windshield.

Now her chest is "not a pretty sight" as all those small cuts have formed keloid scars.

Cynthia asked if they could be injected, or would she need to have the scars cut off?

Would this possibly mean more keloid scars again? She said she does not have the funds to visit a private dermatologist or a plastic surgeon and asked for guidance.

A keloid scar is a tough irregular growth of scar tissue which does not stop growing after the scar has formed and the wound could have healed.

These scars are usually smooth to the touch and dark in colour. They continue to grow and never subside in size without medical or surgical intervention.

The keloid scar tends to overgrow the original cut and becomes larger in size, becoming quite prominent and often unattractive. The scars often itch and feel tender. Itching is not a good sign as this often means the keloid is actively growing.

Keloid growths often occur after scar tissue forms in relation to skin injury such as:

Acne

Burns

Ear piercing

Scratches

Chicken pox scars

Cuts from surgery or trauma

Vaccination sites.

Why keloids occur is still unknown, but they tend to occur more in darker-skinned races and are less common in children and the elderly.

Keloid scars have a greater propensity to occur on the chest and trunk and tend to spare the face, for which we can be grateful!

It is impossible to tell who will develop keloid scars, but when this occurs, the person should avoid surgical procedures, if alternative treatments exist, and especially avoid body piercing!

When it comes to persons who suffer with keloiding, prevention is the only way to go. Avoid getting cuts, and avoid all unnecessary surgical procedures!

Keloid scars tend to itch and this can be upsetting. Also, the scars can be very unattractive. For this reason, it may well be a good idea to have these scars removed. Larger keloids are more difficult to remove, so keloid scars are best treated when still small.

Steroid injections to these scars are the most useful way to treat them. Intra-lesional injections are given once a month until the scars are flat. Normally, the skin looks better but is never restored to a normal situation.

Surgery is risky as the possibility of recurrence of even a larger scar is quite possible, although many surgeons apply pressure bandages to the area after surgery or do radiation treatment to the area after surgery.

This has been found to give good cosmetic results.

The application of silicone gel to the lesions after surgery for several hours daily, and for weeks and even months after surgery, has also helped to prevent the recurrence of scars after surgery.

Laser treatment has also been successful in getting rid of keloid scars but takes repeated sessions, over weeks and months, and is not often covered by insurance plans.

Keloid scars are not harmful but can affect how a person looks. When in sunlight, or at the beach, the scars should be protected from sunlight as they tan darker than the rest of the skin.

It is purely a personal decision to be made when removing keloid scars are considered. They do not constitute any threat to life or physical health.

Services for removal of keloid scar tissues can be received from the plastic surgery or dermatology departments of the larger government, regional hospitals at a minimal cost. Otherwise, visit a private dermatologist or plastic surgeon. There are several located across the island.

Write to: Lifeline,

PO Box 1731,

KGN 8

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