How to Minimize and Prevent Keloid Scars

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Minimize and prevent keloid scars with aloe vera gel, castor oil and wound healing treatments. Photo: Ryan McVay/Photodisc (Getty Images)

If you’ve ever developed a keloid scar, you know how terrible it can look and how difficult it is to treat.

Skin of color is susceptible to this type of scar and the darker the skin, the more likely there will be a chance of hypertrophic or keloid scarring.  Both are raised scars caused by abnormal overgrowth of skin tissue as a wound heals. Keloid formation is wound healing that just keeps going and going like the Energizer bunny, but it's not cute.

 

Keloids can be caused by acne, minor burns, cuts, scrapes, or scratches. Unlike normal and even hypertrophic scars, keloid scars extend beyond the original wound site and into the surrounding area.   How keloid scars develop in terms of size, dimension and severity can depend on the seriousness of the injury and where it is located. Keloids are thought to be hereditary and tend to run in families. 

Keloids are difficult to treat and they don’t go away on their own. Once a keloid forms, you can’t completely eliminate the scar, though if treated early, it’s possible to diminish the appearance. If you know you are prone to keloidal scarring, there are steps you can take to minimize the chance of their formation.

Learn how to avoid future scars:

1.  Avoid Shaving

Avoid or be careful when shaving to prevent nicks and cuts.

2.  Take Care if You Have Acne

If you have acne, don’t pop pimples and maintain a proper skin care regimen.

  See a dermatologist to keep acne under control.  Serious acne lesions can develop into keloid scars that can be worse than the acne.

How to Treat Acne in Skin of Color

3.  Avoid Body Piercings and Tattoos

 Keloids can develop on the earlobes from simple ear piercing, other body piercing as well as tattoos.

 

4.  If Possible Avoid Cosmetic Surgery

If you will be having a surgical procedure done and are prone to keloid scarring, let the surgeon know and discuss what can be done to minimize scarring.  There are things that a surgeon will be able to do to try to avoid keloids, including cortisone injections into the wound area and using steri-strips to keep tension off the wound.  Follow post operation directions to the letter. 

5.  Treat Injuries and Burns Immediately 

Keep wounds clean by using gentle cleansers without harsh or irritating ingredients.  Run cool water over burns or use a cool compress.  For serious burns or injuries see a doctor.

6.  Keep the Wound Moisturized

Moisturize the wound to prevent the scar from drying up and possibly reopening. To help moisturizers absorb and sooth wounds, heat up a wet washcloth in the microwave to apply moist heat (not too hot) to the injured skin and follow with a gentle moisturizer.

7.  Massage the Scar

Massage can assist with softening and healing of scars.

8.  Herbal and Home Remedies

Over the counter and herbal remedies don’t seem to work after a keloid has already formed. Most homemade remedies simply keep the scars lubricated and the skin moist and help lighten darkness caused by the wound.

  Be sure not to use anything that will further irritate the skin. Also talk to your doctor before using any herbal remedies on wounds and scars.

  • Onion extract (found in Mederma) might work if used immediately on new scars. 

Other plant extracts to use before a keloid forms are centella asiatica and bulbine frutescens.  Both are found in Alpha centella cream, which is often used under microporous tape. 

  • Bulbine frutescens has antibacterial properties and helps decrease inflammatory response and fibroblast production. 
  • Centella asiatica is a medicinal herb that contains saponins (chemical compounds found in some plants) that assist with wound healing and also inhibits inflammatory response.

Other natural remedies that might work to treat new scars include aloe vera gel, cocoa butter, lavender, calendula, tea tree and castor oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic oil, lemon, and onion juice.

 

9.  Avoid Sun Exposure

Avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen or protective clothing to protect the scar and keep it from further darkening.

Related: 4 Top Products for Sun Protection

10.  Heal From the Inside Out

It is also important to eat a nutrient-rich diet and drink healthy fluids to help build new tissue and remove toxins.  

Related: Top Foods for Younger Looking Skin

11.  Stop Smoking

If you smoke, stop.  Smoking decreases blood circulation in the skin, which contribute to inadequate wound healing and possibly tissue loss.