From Academic Kids

A keloid scar is a special case of a scar. Keloids are firm, rubbery lesions, reddish or darkly colored, or shiny, hard pink-dome shaped lumps. They can result from injury to the skin or may form spontaneously. They often grow, and although harmless, non-contagious, and usually non-painful, they can be a cosmetic problem.



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A person's shoulder displaying keloid scars and acne

Keloids form within the scar tissue. Wound collagen, used in wound repair tends to overgrow the area sometimes producing a lump many times the size of the original scar. Although usually at the site of injury, keloids can spontaneously occur. They can occur at the site of a piercing and have been found on earlobes, eyebrows, the chest and other sites of piercings. They can occur as a result of severe acne or chickenpox scarring. They can also be caused by infection at a wound site, repeated trauma to an area, excessive skin tension during wound closure or a foreign body in a wound. They do not go away. They tend to recur after excision. They affect both sexes equally although the incidence in young female patients has been reported to be higher than in young males, probably reflecting the greater frequency of earlobe piercing among women. Keloids are firm, rubbery lesions which are reddish or darkly colored. They may be shiny hard pink dome shaped lumps. There is a fifteen times higher frequency of occurrence in people of color. Black skin is most likely to develop keloids.

History in medicine

Keloids were described by Egyptian surgeons about 1700 BCE. Baron Jean Louis Alibert (1768-1837) identified the keloid as an entity in 1806. He called them cancroide. Later he changed the name to cheloide to avoid the connotation of cancer. The word is derived from the Greek chele, meaning crab's claw, and the suffix -oid, meaning like. His clinic at the Hospital St.Louis was for many years the world’s centre for dermatology.

Intentional keloids

The Olmec of Mexico in pre-Columbian times used keloid scarification as a means of decoration. In the modern era, women of the Nubia-Kush in the Sudan are intentionally scarified with facial keloids as a means of decoration. The Nuer and Nuba use lip plugs, keloid tattoos along the forehead, keloid tattoos along the chin and above the lip, and cornrows. As a part of ritual, the people of Papua New Guinea, cut their skin and insert clay or ash into the wounds so as to develop permanent bumps (known as keloids or weals). This painful ritual makes them well respected members of their tribe who are honored for their courage and endurance.

Locations of Keloids

Keloids are common on the shoulders and chest.


  • Surgery — Surgery requires great care and after care. Some keloids that return after being removed may be larger than the original. There is a 45 percent recurrence of keloids surgically removed. However, keloids are less likely to return if surgical removal is combined with other treatments. Surgical or laser excision may be followed by intralesional injection with a corticosteroid to try to prevent recurrence. Plastic closure of the skin including such techniques as v-plasty or w-plasty to reduce skin tension are known to reduce recurrence of keloids following excision.
  • Dressings — Moist wound coverings made of silicone gel or silastic sheets have been shown in studies to reduce keloid prominence over time. This treatment is safe and painless.
  • Steroid injections — Steroid injections are best used as the scar begins to thicken or if the person was a known keloid former. Series of injections with triamcinolone acetonide or another corticosteroid may reduce keloid size and irritation, but injections can be uncomfortable.
  • Compression — Compression bandages applied to the site over several months, sometimes as long as six to twelve months may produce reduction in size. They work best as a preventive for new scars.
  • Cryosurgery — Cryosurgery is an excellent treatment for keloids that are small and occur on lightly pigmented skin. It is often combined with monthly cortisone injections. The use of cryotherapy is limited since it causes skin blanching. It freezes the skin and causes sludging of the circulation beneath. There is a slough of skin and keloid with re-epitelization. It does in effect create a local frostbite. It does cause a superficial peel of heavy skin.
  • Radiation therapy — Electron beam radiation can be used but often not go deep enough to affect internal organs. Orthovoltage radiation is more penetrating and slightly more effective. There have not been any reports of this causing any form of cancer in many years of use, but it is very expensive Radiation treatments may reduce scar formation if they are used soon after a surgery, during the time a surgical wound is healing.
  • Laser therapy — This is an alternative to conventional surgery for keloid removal. Lasers may give a good superficial peel but often do not reduce the bulk of the keloid. The use of dye-tuned lasers has not shown any better result than cold laser.

Case presentation

This is a young male with bilateral keloid formation on the plantar surfaces of both feet. He has never been treated for this condition. There are other much smaller keloids located at small insults on the glaborous skin.

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Plantar keloid formation
Missing image
Plantar keloid formation
Missing image
Plantar keloid formation


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