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Keloid scar

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

A keloid scar is an area of scar tissue that has formed from a previous trauma - this may have been a small injury, such as an insect bite or acne, or a larger and more memorable injury, such as the site of keyhole surgery or a burn.

Your body has gone into overdrive trying to repair the wound and has formed a lot of collagen. This raised shiny area will feel smooth and firm, usually in an oval or line shape, commonly seen on the chest, back, shoulders, neck and stomach. It often extends beyond the original wound.

You may have other such scars, or family members may also have a tendency to form keloid scars. They are more common in Black and Asian skin, where scars turn dark brown or black rather than the red or pink scars on Caucasian skin. They most commonly form between the ages of 10 and 30 but can form at any age. The protrusion may shrink with time and grow paler, but will likely be lifelong. Keloid scars carry no risk in themselves, although some people are bothered by how they appear, and they may be itchy, painful, or give a burning sensation.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

Keloid scars are not contagious. If you have a tendency towards keloid scars, you should be cautious about getting piercings or unnecessary minor surgery.

Scars and other unusual aspects of appearance can be damaging to our self-confidence, causing self-consciousness or low self-esteem. It can cause low mood and anxiety. There are a number of organizations that can provide more information and support, or advise on specialist cosmetics to camouflage the scar.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Keloid scars are best to be discussed with your doctor if they are very bothersome, although there are some pharmacy options to try. These options include topical silicone gel, silicone gel sheets, or skin camouflage (make-up). Combinations of these treatments can be tried, although we should be clear that the treatments can sometimes have very minimal results.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work with a keloid scar.

When should I see my doctor?

If this is new or bothersome, it is worth getting this checked with your doctor. Successful treatment is difficult. Treatment often aims to flatten the scar or reduce the redness. If you are particularly bothered by the appearance or sensation of your keloid scar, book a routine appointment with your doctor to discuss, or you may wish to see a dermatologist.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of your scar, you should see your doctor for a routine appointment.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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