‘Keloids’ are not common. Often people misdiagnose hypertrophic scarring when they talk about a keloid on a piercing.
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- A keloid scar is a skin coloured or purpley-red coloured bump which is hard to the touch and feels rubbery.
- The bump starts at the site of the piercing but expands away from it becoming almost like a mushroom.
- They often form ‘benign tumours’.
- At times there can be needle like pain or itching associated with the bump.
- A keloid bump is created by an overgrowth of granulation tissue cells or proteins.
- It is thought that this happens because more granulation tissue is produced than can be broken down or reabsorbed and so it grows in all directions creating the bump.
- This is most likely caused by uncontrolled signals from the wound cells which call forth more cells and thus more tissue than is actually needed.
- Keloids are not well understood. Anyone can develop a keloid on any wound (even a small scratch).
- It is more likely for those with darker skin tone, a family history of keloids or a personal history of keloiding, on surgical or ‘scalpelled’ wounds, in blood group A or who are female.
- Hydro gel, silicone sheeting and silicone gel can help to prevent keloids but they would need to be worn for around 2 months and a piercing may not heal well with them, potentially causing keloids or hypertrophic scarring.
- Looking after you body is important. Wounds need certain vitamins and minerals to close up properly. Omega 3, Vitamin A & C and the mineral zinc should help with this. Smoking and alcohol can also inhibit the immune system.
- Keloids are common on wounds that heal by secondary intention or have foreign bodies in them, both of which a piercing does. So seriously consider if getting a piercing is worth the risk.
Keloids are very difficult to treat as surgery could cause another keloid to form around the new wound. Also, even if treatment is successful there is a risk that the keloid could return, usually within 5 years.
Allium Cepa. An onion extract also found as a gel called merderma. Break down the tablet to a powder to use either in a hot salty soak or to mix with an oil as a paste to apply directly to the bump. Alternatively apply merderma after a soak. Use twice a day.
Cod liver oil. Apply a little to the bump twice a day after soaking. It is recommended that you massage it into the skin in a circular motion. This oil may interact with people who take medications to lower blood pressure or slow blood clotting.
Silicone. Some of the best ‘self’ medical treatment for keloids are products like hydro gel, silicone gel and silicone scar sheets. Dermatix is a brand of gel widely available. Always read the leaflet before use or ask a pharmacist for advice.
Compression Therapy. Needs specialist made-to-measure equipment for enough equal pressure on the bump. It is unlikely that using tape to put pressure on a piercing bump will have the same effect. Compression garments need to be used for around 23 hours a day for 6 months or more.
Medical Intervention. The most common form of treatment is a steroid injection either around or in the keloid by a doctor. Doctors can also try laser surgery and freezing the keloid. Sometimes the bump is surgically removed along with a course of steroid injections and / or compression therapy to lower the chance of the keloid reoccurring.
For more information please read the full guide to keloids. Other common piercing bumps can be explored through the Piercing Bumps Guide. You also may be interested in reading how a piercing heals in order to better understand how and when keloids form.