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What is a keloid?

Keloids can be considered to be "scars that don't know when to stop." A keloid, sometimes referred to as a keloid scar, is a tough heaped-up scar that rises quite abruptly above the rest of the skin. It usually has a smooth top and a pink or purple color. Keloids are irregularly shaped and tend to enlarge progressively. Unlike scars, keloids do not regress over time.

What is the difference between a keloid and a hypertrophic scar?

After the skin is injured, the healing process usually leaves a flat scar. Sometimes the scar is hypertrophic, or thickened, but confined to the margin of the original wound. Hypertrophic scars tend to be redder and often regress spontaneously (a process which can take one year or more). Treatment, such as injections of cortisone (steroids), can speed this process.

Keloids, by contrast, may start sometime after a cutaneous injury and extend beyond the wound site. This tendency to migrate into surrounding areas that weren't injured originally distinguishes keloids from hypertrophic scars. Keloids typically appear following surgery or injury, but they can also as a result of some minor inflammation, such as an acne pimple on the chest (even one that wasn't scratched or otherwise irritated). Other minor injuries that can trigger keloids are burns and cosmetic piercings.

What are keloid symptoms and signs?

Keloids are raised and look shiny and dome-shaped, ranging in color from pink to red. Some keloids become quite large and unsightly. Aside from causing potential cosmetic problems, these exuberant scars tend to be itchy, tender, or even painful to the touch.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2015

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Treatment of Keloids

For what conditions are cortisone injections used?

Cortisone injections can be used to treat the inflammation of small areas of the body (local injections), or they can be used to treat inflammation that is widespread throughout the body (systemic injections).