Keloid scars and hypertrophic scars

What are keloid scars?

When skin is injured, fibrous tissue (called scar tissue) forms over the wound to repair and protect the injury. In some cases, scar tissue grows excessively, forming smooth, hard growths known as keloid scars. These scars can be much larger than the original wound and are most commonly found on the upper chest, shoulders and earlobes, however, can affect any part of the body. Keloid scars are not harmful to the body but may present cosmetic concerns. In extreme cases the scarring may affect the movement of joints.

What are hypertrophic scars?

Hypertrophic scars differ slightly from keloid scars. Initially, a hypertrophic scar will be thicker and redder than a normal looking scar, but will flatten over time. The scar remaining on the skin will still be larger than the original wound, however does not continue to grow as with a keloid scar.

Sun exposure to keloid and hypertrophic scars may discolour and scar tissue making them more obvious so it is always important to keep scars protected from the sun.

Symptoms:

• flesh-coloured, pink or red in colour
• lumpy or ridged area of skin
• continues to grow larger over time (keloid scars only)
• itchy
• make take several weeks or months to fully develop

Common Causes:

• acne scars
• burns
• chickenpox scars
• ear piercings
• scratches
• surgical cuts
• vaccination sites

Keloid and hypertrophic scars are more common for those with an African American, Asian and Hispanic background due to a genetic component, and often occur in people between the ages of 10 and 20.

Treatment:

Keloid and hypertrophic scars typically do not require medical attention, but you may want to contact your doctor if growth continues, you develop additional symptoms, or you want to treat the scars for cosmetic purposes.

At the Skin Centre we offer corticosteroid injections to reduce the inflammation and flatten the scar. Multiple treatments are required spaced about 4 – 6 weeks apart. The advantage of injecting a steroid directly into a scar is that it reduces the risk of epidermal atrophy (skin thinning) and higher concentrations of the medication can be used compared to topical applications.

HOW DO I GET EXPERT ADVICE AND GUIDANCE?

Book a consultation with our Cosmetic Nurse online here, or call us direct on 9739 3837.