Keloids are a type of scar that continue to grow after a wound has healed. Where normal scars shrink and fade, keloids extend past the original wound. They are fibrous and tough, with irregular edges and a shiny surface. Colors range from a normal skin tone to red, bluish, or purple. Although they are benign and not contagious, keloids can be painful, itchy and can restrict movement when located on a joint.

Typically, they appear after a surgery or injury, but keloid scars can grow from acne, burns, scratches, tattoos and piercings. They can be quite disfiguring and are generally seen on the shoulders, chest, back, ears and jaw. Abscesses can also form within the scar, leading to infection.

While it can develop on persons of any skin tone, keloid scarring is 15 times more likely to affect persons with dark skin. It occurs equally in men and women, yet is uncommon among the elderly and children. Doctors are uncertain why some are affected and others are not. Treatment is difficult, and methods are varied, as are the results.

Cortisone injection treatment consists of monthly injections until the maximum benefit is reached. 70 percent of patients respond to cortisone, but recurrence is high, up to 50 percent within five years. Although the scar shrinks, it will always differ from the surrounding skin and has a tendency to be redder, as the injections stimulate the growth of capillaries.

Lasers can be used to treat scars, shrinking the size and reducing redness, but several sessions are required, and the cost is rarely covered by most insurance plans. Best results are achieved when used in conjunction with cortisone injections.

Because of the nature of keloid scars, surgery is perilous. Recurrence is almost guaranteed, and even larger scars may form. When used in combination with other aggressive treatments, such as radiation, injection and pressure bandages, an up to 100 percent recurrence rate can drop to below 50 percent.

Interferons are manufactured by the body to combat bacteria, viruses and so forth. Recent studies have shown that injections of agents that stimulate interferon production have an effect on the size of scars, but scientists are unsure of the long term permanency.

A simple way to treat scars is with commercial scar fade cream. It smooths and reduces keloids, and it can prevent them from forming, as it regulates the excessive collagen production that causes scarring. For best results, it is important to begin use as soon as possible following surgery or injury. Scar creams are easy to apply, economical and readily available online.

Prevention is key to those prone to keloid scars. They are impossible to predict, and since treatment is troublesome, body modification and elective surgeries should be avoided, especially to the more susceptible areas of the body.