Patient Dermatology Education



Gary J. Brauner, MD

What is the cause of keloids?
Keloids are scars that continue to heal and grow beyond the time for normal wound healing. They occur rarely in Caucasians and are more prevalent in those of South Asian ancestry and especially African sub-Saharan ancestry. They bear no relation to the depth of skin color, however the precipitating injury can be as minor as an insect bite or acne pimple or as extensive as surgical (even ear-piercing) wounds. The tendency in Africans is so pronounced that a number of African cultures have incorporated scarification (deliberate scaring) patterns into tribal or religious rights of passage, such as the onset of puberty

How do I know if I have a keloid?
A keloidal scar is a thick dense, hard lump ranging from the size of a small sesame seed to that of a grapefruit, and expanding well beyond the area of the original injury or area of inflammation.

What are the best treatments for keloids?
Treatment of keloids can be very difficult since they commonly recur—sometimes even larger in size than prior to removal.

It is first essential to limit development of future keloids by treating any potential underlying skin diseases (e.g., acne).

Dermatologists commonly treat keloids with serial steroid injections directly into the lesion. Removal of a keloid may be performed with a variety of procedures ranging from surgical excision to laser excision. Other treatments include topical medications (e.g., steroids, imiquimod, retinoids, anti-inflammatory agents), medicated tape, silicone gel sheeting, compression (e.g., pressure earrings), chemotherapy injections, and cryotherapy (freezing). Localized radiation treatments may also be used to prevent recurrence. In all instances, frequent and careful follow-up with a dermatologist is essential.

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  3. Shockman, S., K.V. Paghdal, and G. Cohen, Medical and surgical management of keloids: a review. J Drugs Dermatol, 2010. 9(10): p. 1249-57.