Formation of Keloids

Keloids are abnormal scar tissue that develops as a skin wound caused by surgery, trauma, certain skin conditions, and in some minor cases spontaneously due to unknown or forgotten small injury months or years later.1 The term was coined from the Greek word chele for crab claw in describing how some keloids have claw-like, irregular borders that extend over the skin and beyond the original wound area. Chickenpox, ear piercing, vaccines, and acne are common situations where keloids form.2-3


Although keloids are benign, the associated cosmetic and pain considerations make it a subject of intensive research. Treatment options include surgical excision, cryotherapy, laser and light therapies, radiation, compression, and medications. Medications are typically administered by injection directly into the keloid (e.g., corticosteroids) or topically in an ointment (e.g., retinoic acid). Off-label application of some chemotherapy drugs (e.g., doxorubicin and tamoxifen) and immunotherapy creams (e.g., imiquimod and tacrolimus) suggest they may effectively prevent and treat keloids after surgery, but they are not currently approved for scar or keloid use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).3

The increased overall understanding of the pathophysiology of scar and keloid formation has improved and expanded treatment options, and different treatments can be combined to improve results. However, most treatments do not produce permanent results and the growths tend to re-appear. This makes prevention all the more important. Understanding the risk factors and what precautions can be taken to minimize these factors can help prevent or limit the extent of the scar tissue.3-4

Researchers have uncovered powerful phytochemicals in natural herbs and botanicals that may play an important role in keloid prevention and treatment. This isn’t so surprising once you realize that the well-known skin care ingredient retinoic acid is also an all-natural compound derived from vitamin A. Preliminary studies and even some clinical trials support further investigation into the natural medicinal benefits of gotu kola, onion extract, quercetin, soy, green tea, and vitamin D.


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