Keloids are an unwelcome addition to anyone’s body! Caused by something as innocuous as a pimple, burn, or cut, they have an uncanny way of converting what should’ve been a simple wound healing into a skincare nightmare. The scars and bumps they leave on your skin can be unsightly and even uncomfortable if they happen to itch.
But we have good news! There are multiple natural remedies you can use to sort out keloids. In fact, for many, you need to look no further than your larder.
What Are Keloids
First, the lowdown on keloids! When you get a scratch, cut, burn, or bite, or even when you have a piercing done or are plagued by acne, your skin sometimes breaks. To seal the wound, the body then begins to produce collagen in the area where the skin is broken.1 In some instances, the scar tissue continues to build, resulting in a hard, rubbery, and shiny raised bump. It starts out purple or red and fades to paler shades or turns brown.
Where Do Keloids Appear On Your Body
You can get a keloid on any part of your body where the skin is damaged or broken. However, keloids have a tendency to show up more often on the shoulders, upper chest, neck, and head region (with the earlobes being especially prone).3
Reluctant to use aggressive medication to sort out keloids? These gentle natural treatments may be exactly what you need.
Home Remedies / Treatment of Keloid Scar
Curcumin, the active constituent of turmeric, can help you get rid of a keloid problem thanks to its anti-inflammatory action. Apart from its wound-healing properties, turmeric can also inhibit the scarring seen in keloids. Simply apply a paste of fresh turmeric to the area that needs treatment every day till you see results.
Applying garlic extracts on the skin can help with wound healing and keloid scars, just like turmeric. In fact, some home remedies suggest using a combination of the two for best effect. Researchers say that it inhibits the production of nitric oxide and certain enzymes required for keloid formation, making it an effective remedy for these scars. Use about 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and apply as a paste, rinsing away after about 15 minutes. Remember to pat dry and moisturize afterward.
Onion extract gel is an effective remedy for the treatment of keloids.6Research has revealed that the quercetin in onion, which is a powerful antioxidant, inhibits collagen production and helps lower the incidence of keloids. Apply several times a day for a few months till you see results.
Coconut oil contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which can help moisturize your skin, repair it, and prevent keloid formation. Use twice or thrice a day and leave on after application. Anecdotal evidence shows this to be an effective remedy when used on its own or with calendula oil.
Like coconut oil, shea butter is a natural moisturizer that softens and hydrates your skin while also inhibiting keloid formation.7 Moisturize the keloid with shea butter four to six times a day. You can even leave some on overnight and wipe the area clean in the morning.
You can also try some Ayurvedic or herbal formulations to fight keloids. An alternative medicine practitioner will help you find these and guide you on usage and dosage.
Aneilema keisak extract, taken from flowering plants of the spiderwort family, lowers levels of the proteins needed for keloid formation. It also inhibits collagen synthesis and slows cell growth, all of which help reduce the growth of keloids.8
Research has shown that using red sage or Chinese sage can inhibit cell proliferation. Collagen synthesis that is typical of keloids is also slowed. One study used a compound of Chinese sage along with milkvetch root (an immune building natural remedy) to good effect.9
Ayurvedic remedy Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) has wound-healing abilities and can regulate the production of collagen-producing cells. It is applied in a gel or cream form on the affected area and can heal keloid scars. It acts at the inflammatory stage of wound healing when keloids tend to form.
Another Ayurvedic remedy, Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) works in a similar manner, inhibiting the inflammation and stopping the development of keloids. Remember to use it as soon as you have a break or cut or damage to the skin. As researchers point out, brahmi is good only as a preventive remedy and helps wound healing if applied in the initial six weeks to two months after an injury to the skin.
Treatment and Removal Options Are Many
Keloid scarring does not necessarily require medical treatment because it does not pose a threat to your health, but you can choose to remove the scar if it starts to affect your quality of life. The anatomical location of a keloid scar is one major factor that leads to the decision of having it removed. The more visible it is, the more chance you will suffer from self-esteem issues and psychological stress.
Deciding to remove your keloid scar is not an easy one. A surgical procedure, for example, means new incisions will be made on the affected site. There is a high chance another scar will form that may be larger than the previous one. Nevertheless, you can choose from various non-invasive or invasive keloid scarring treatments.Here are some of the most effective ways of permanently removing keloid scarring:
Readily Available Topical Retinoid
Retinoid is a popular over-the-counter remedy for many skin problems including scars. Retinoid or retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, is beneficial to your skin and may help you improve your keloid scar. Studies suggest that retinoid can help normalize the production of collagen and other cell growth factors. A few small clinical studies show that retinoid use significantly decreases the size of keloid scars and may lessen symptoms such as pruritus or itching with the daily topical use of 0.05 percent retinoic acid solution. An important reminder, using retinoic acid topically and taking it orally have different side-effects. Topical use generally has mild side-effects. If you are considering laser treatment, taking retinoic acid orally increases your risk of suffering from adverse effects. Inform your doctor about any treatments you are taking before deciding to undergo another one.
Many people also resort to using topical products that contain vitamin E to prevent scars. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is beneficial to your skin’s health. The trouble is, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove it effect on scars.
Non-Invasive and Economical Pressure Therapy
Pressure therapy involves compression of the wounded or injured area of the skin to reduce skin tension. Experts believe constant pressure with the use of compression garments or tape will reduce cell production in the area and flatten the scar after surgery. Patients need to wear these stretchable, yet tight-fitting garments all day, every day, and for a long period. Treatment can take weeks or months, or as long as it is necessary. In the case of scars from burns, wearing the garment can sometimes take up to a year. Pressure therapy provides better results in fresh scars. Scars that are older than six months may not respond or may respond poorly to pressure therapy. Most times, pressure therapy may include the application of silicone gel for better results. In the case of earlobe keloids from piercing, pressure earrings are also available for treatment.
Child-Safe Silicone Gel
The use of silicone can be a preventative measure or treatment of keloid scars. Medical practitioners started using silicone gel sheets in the 1980s for burns and surgical incisions to prevent keloid or hypertrophic scarring. The use of silicone gel sheets is relatively painless and is highly effective when applied to the affected area right after removing the stitches or sutures. According to some research, the use of self-adhesive silicone sheets is more effective than using topical silicone gel.
Experts believe silicone sheets work by keeping the injured area of the skin hydrated, and by inhibiting fibroblast or the process that stimulates the excessive growth of scar tissue; however, your results may vary depending on the severity and size of your scar.
Silicone gel is one of the most accessible keloid treatments that is tolerable for children. Silicone gel sheeting is costly compared to the use of topical silicone gel.
Corticosteroid injections, commonly triamcinolone, are a popular treatment for managing disfiguring scars. In this instance, your doctor will inject it locally on the lesion at a precise depth. Dosage varies, depending on your age and the size of your keloid scar. The interval of administering treatment is four to six weeks, over the course of several months until the scar flattens. Corticosteroids mainly work by inhibiting inflammation in the wound and by reducing collagen production that can contribute to scar tissue overgrowth. Surgical practitioners also use corticosteroid injections after a surgical procedure of removing the keloid scar to help lessen the risk of the reappearance of the scar. Corticosteroid injections can be painful. To reduce pain, your doctor may mix the treatment with local anesthesia or apply a topical numbing cream on the site. Other possible side effects of corticosteroid injections include thinning of your skin and tissue atrophy.
Cryotherapy for Smaller Keloid Scars
The treatment used during the early stage of the development of a keloid scar. The procedure involves inserting a probe into the keloid to release liquid nitrogen into the tissues. Liquid nitrogen will freeze the tissues; thus preventing overgrowth of the skin, consequently stopping the formation of keloid scars from the inside.
The use of cryotherapy showed promising results in a recent study. Researchers noted a 51 percent scar reduction with a single treatment of cryotherapy. In another study, cryotherapy was able to reduce keloid size on the earlobes to 30 percent and on the back, chest shoulders to 40 percent of their original size. The effectivity of cryotherapy needs further research. The procedure is costly, but experts say it is cost-efficient than most treatments because a single treatment may be enough with a lesser risk of infection and recurrence. Though, patients may suffer from slight hypopigmentation.
Interferon-gamma is a cytokine or protein that may interfere with the excessive production of collagen that contributes to keloid scarring. Intralesional interferon gamma is a popular treatment for abnormal scars.
In another study, patients with keloids received interferon gamma injection to determine its side-effects and efficacy. All scars showed affirmative improvements in size and appearance. Out of 10 keloid scars, five showed a reduced linear dimension cut by half. In other studies, interferon gamma showed better results than steroid injections. Patients can receive a 0.05 mg dosage for 10 weeks without suffering from serious side effects. Many of the patients reported suffering from mild headaches, though.
Other Intralesional Treatments for Keloid Scarring
Aside from steroids and interferon, intralesional keloid scarring treatments include bleomycin, fluorouracil, and verapamil. These treatments offer results comparable to silicone get treatments and the use of corticosteroids.
Bleomycin is a medication used to treat several types of cancer, but it may also be effective in removing keloid scars. A procedure called bleomycin tattooing involves the application of the medication into the scar through multiple shallow punctures. In one clinical trial, bleomycin tattooing showed promising results in flattening keloids; however, bleomycin has its side effects, depending on the dosage. These include pulmonary fibrosis in higher doses, hair loss, and hyperpigmentation. An antimetabolite drug, 5-Fluorouracil is also used in treating cancer. It inhibits cell division and interferes with the production of collagen, making it a potential treatment for keloid scars.
Say Goodbye to Keloid Scars with Laser Treatment Therapy
Laser therapy is a popular treatment for all types of scars. Laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure that involves reaching the tissues beneath the skin with laser light to promote healing and to eradicate damaged skin tissues. Laser treatments may improve a keloid’s appearance and size. Pulsed dye lasers and the long pulsed Nd: YAG laser showed positive results with fewer side-effects. The downside is, pulsed dye lasers do not work well on dark-skinned people.
There are several types of laser treatments available that provide different results. Your doctor may also recommend additional treatment, such as the use of steroids to get the best results. Laser treatments can be quite costly and requires a specialist to perform the procedure.
Laster treatment requires several sessions. The side effects usually include redness and mild irritation.
Surgical Excision of Keloid Scars
Surgical excision of a keloid scar is an invasive procedure with a high risk of a recurring keloid scar, which may be larger and obvious than the previous scar. To prevent or decrease the risk of recurrence, surgeons often use corticosteroid injections, silicone gel treatments, pressure therapy, radiotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Immediate post-surgery treatment is important to prevent the recurrence of the scar.
Another form of treatment used together with surgical excision is the application of Imiquimod five percent cream. Its use depends on the size and location of your keloid scar. Imiquimod cream works best on low tension areas, such as your earlobes. You apply it every other night for eight weeks after the surgical procedure. Side effects of the cream include hyperpigmentation and irritation. The success of the result of the surgery can also come from the surgeon’s skill and experience. Be careful in choosing a qualified surgeon.
Risky Radiation Therapy: Your Last Resort for Stubborn Keloids
Doctors recommend the use of radiation therapy after surgical excision of a keloid scar. However, doctors say this should be your last option for a persistent or stubborn keloid scar that does not seem to go away with most treatments. If it is the only choice, remaining parts of the body should be thoroughly protected from the radiation. Radiation therapy comes in two types, external beam irradiation and internal or brachytherapy. Internal radiation provides better results in linear-shaped keloid scars and those found on curved areas, such as the shoulders. External radiation provides better results in large keloids or smaller keloids found in flat areas of the body. The best keloid scarring treatment for you depends on the size, age, and severity of your scars and your current health condition. Your doctor may use monotherapy, or opt for a combination of keloid treatments mentioned above to achieve the best results.
Keloid treatment initially starts with reducing the inflammation through steroid injections. Next, the doctor may perform surgery or radiation therapy, combined with intralesional treatments if the keloid persists. Despite all these advanced treatments, there is still a high chance your scar will recur.
Keloid scarring results from the excessive growth of scar tissue. As stubborn as they are, there are many ways to remove keloid scars. If you suffer from them, you are not alone and you have many treatment options. Be sure to talk to your doctor about them as soon as possible, as keloids can grow quickly. The sooner you start treatment, the easier, faster and more effective it will be.