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Keloids are patches of excessive scar tissue that may form following a skin injury.

What is going on in the body? 
Keloids occur in a small percentage of persons. They most commonly occur on the upper chest and upper back. It is not known why certain people develop keloids, although it does seem to run in families. A keloid is abnormal because the scar extends above and beyond the site of the original injury. Normal scars stay confined to the site of injury.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition? 
Keloids involve:
  • thick, smooth, humped-up pink scar tissue larger than the original site of injury
  • occasional itching or tenderness
What are the causes and risks of the condition? 
The risks are unknown, although keloids seem to run in families.

What can be done to prevent the condition? 
Persons who tend to develop keloids should avoid cosmetic procedures to their skin. If surgery is necessary, an injection of cortisone should be made into the skin first. This may lower the risk of developing a keloid scar.

How is the condition diagnosed? 
Keloids are diagnosed by their appearance.

What are the long-term effects of the condition? 
Keloid scars may continue growing for many years.

What are the risks to others? 
Keloids are not contagious.

What are the treatments for the condition? 
Treatment of keloids can include:
  • corticosteroids injected directly into the keloid
  • surgical removal of the keloid. However, surgery is rarely done because it may create new keloids.
  • silicone gel dressings applied continuously for several weeks. This treatment has recently been found to be very helpful in reducing the scar.
What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Surgically removing a keloid may cause an even larger keloid to form.

What happens after treatment for the condition? 
The scars do not disappear or become normal in size. Over time, however, they usually flatten and become less pink and obvious.

Author: Lynn West, MD
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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