What are keloids and how are they created?

Existing scars or skin injuries can grow into so-called keloids in a few cases. This creates new, bulging scar tissue, which protrudes more or less clearly beyond the original wound surface and - like a benign tumor - can displace other body tissue. So keloids are usually sublime and coarse-soft. Their coloring is often intense and darker than the surrounding, healthy skin.

Older keloids can fade too much. Occasionally, itching or pain may occur. It is thought that the keloids are subject to an excessive inflammatory response, however, a corresponding hereditary predisposition must be present.

Young people affected more often

Certain body regions are much more prone to this type of wound healing disorder than others. This includes:

  • the ears,
  • the jaw area,
  • the neck,
  • the area below the collarbone
  • as well as the region of the sternum.

Here, with the right disposition, even the smallest injuries can result in cosmetically disturbing keloids.

Young people between the ages of 10 and 30 as well as dark-skinned people tend to scar growth more often than average. In some cultures of Africa, this tendency is even explicitly used for body ornamentation. In the process, scratches or cuts are used to insert patterns into the skin, which become really prominent and visible through the subsequent proliferation. In Europe, about one in every hundred people tends to keloids. Excessive scar growth is usually seen as a major aesthetic problem in western latitudes.

Important distinction to the so-called "hypertrophic scar"

A keloid often develops only a long time after the wound healing of a scar. This also distinguishes him from the so-called hypertrophic scar, which forms only a few weeks after surgery or injury, etc., persists for some time and eventually flattened and faded again. Another important difference between these two types of scar growth is that the hypertrophic scar remains strictly within the scar borders, while a keloid leaves these boundaries and can even surpass the original wound area many times over. If one removes keloids one or more times surgically and does not apply any further treatment, the scar tissue can always come back and, above all, get bigger and bigger.

Keloids can only form on the outer skin. Mucous membranes or other internal body tissues are never affected. By the way, keloid inclination only exists in humans. In the animal kingdom - even in highly developed mammals - this tendency does not exist.

Author: Dr. med. Monika Steiner