Keloid scars

What are keloid scars?
Red, lumpy scars due to excessive scar tissue formation

What treatments are available for keloid scars?
Silicone gels and sheets
Corticosteroid creams and injections
Pressure dressings
Laser for the redness
Occasionally, intralesional 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin, cryotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery

Keloid scars are red, lumpy scars that can develop after any injury to the skin. Treatment can be difficult, and if you’re prone to them, it’s really important to try to prevent new keloid scars developing. If you’re having any procedure done to the skin, always inform your treating professional, and keep skin conditions such as acne under good control. 

What are keloid scars? 

Keloid scars are a form of scarring characterised by excessive scar tissue, which extends beyond the original wound. They often look pink or red and lumpy, and can be itchy or painful.

Why do I have keloid scars?

It isn’t entirely clear why, but some people are more prone to developing keloid scars than others. Keloid scars are more common in people with skin of colour, and are more likely to develop on the chest, upper back and shoulders. They can occur following an injury to the skin such as a surgical incision, ear piercing or a cut, or following acne, chicken pox or an insect bite. 

What treatments are available for keloid scars?

Treatment depends on the size and location of the keloid scar. Treatment options include corticosteroid creams, silicone gels and sheets, corticosteroid injections and pressure dressings or earrings. Laser may help reduce the redness. Surgery alone is usually not sufficient to treat a keloid scar as recurrence is common, but it may be helpful when combined with other treatments to prevent recurrence. Other less commonly used treatments include intralesional 5-fluorouracil, bleomycin, cryotherapy and radiotherapy. 

How can I prevent getting keloid scars in future?

If you’re due to have any kind of surgery, it’s important to inform your doctor that you have a history of keloid scarring, as steps can be taken to reduce the risk of this developing. In addition, if you plan to undergo any sort of skin treatment such as laser or skin needling, always inform your treating professional that you have a history of keloid scars. If your keloid scars are developing from acne, it’s important to keep your acne under control, to prevent more keloid scars developing.

Berman B, Maderal A, Raphael B. Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars: Pathophysiology, Classification, and Treatment. Dermatol Surg. 2017 Jan;43 Suppl 1:S3-S18. 

Betarbet U, Blalock TW. Keloids: A Review of Etiology, Prevention, and Treatment. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2020;13(2):33-43.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…