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A keloid is a type of scar which results in an overgrowth of tissue at the site of a healed skin injury. Keloids are firm, rubbery lesions or shiny, fibrous nodules and can vary from pink to flesh-colored or red to dark brown in color. A keloid scar is benign, non-contagious and usually accompanied by severe itchiness, sharp pains and changes in texture. In severe cases, it can affect movement of skin. Keloids should not be confused with hypertrophic scars, which are raised scars that do not grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound and may reduce over time.

If the keloid becomes infected, it may ulcerate. The only treatment is to remove the scar completely. However, the probability that the resulting surgery scar will also become a keloid is high, usually greater than 50%.

Keloids form within scar tissue. Collagen, used in wound repair, tends to overgrow in this area, sometimes producing a lump many times larger than that of the original scar. Although they usually occur at the site of an injury, keloids can also arise spontaneously. They can occur at the site of a piercing and even from something as simple as a pimple or scratch. They can occur as a result of severe acne or chickenpox scarring, infection at a wound site, repeated trauma to an area, excessive skin tension during wound closure or a foreign body in a wound. Keloids can sometimes be sensitive to chlorine (consult your dermatologist if faced with this problem).

They affect both sexes equally although the incidence in young female patients has been reported to be higher than in young males, probably reflecting the greater frequency of earlobe piercing among women. There is a fifteen times higher frequency of occurrence in highly pigmented people. It is speculated that people who possess any degree of African descent, regardless of skin color, may be especially susceptible to keloid occurrences.

To the surprise of many, light cuttings do not ordinarily scar. Light cuttings through only the top three epidermal layers tend to heal completely within one to six months. However, some skin types, age, and area of the body present unpredictable factors, and scarring is a definite possibility in any cutting. In general, the older someone is, the more likely the skin is to retain marks as scars. In general, thinner-skinned areas (like above bones as opposed to on the fleshy part of the ass) are more likely to scar. And in general, blacks or those with swarthier Mediterranean skin tones are more prone to keloid than fair-skinned whites and orientals. Keloids are a raised permanent skin reaction that is manifested in striated scarring lines in the skin or striated welts. The striations sometimes develop instantly or might take a week or so to manifest. Be aware, though: any skin type can keloid or otherwise scar; it is not completely predictable when it happens.

The Olmec of Mexico in pre-Columbian times used keloid scarification as a means of decoration. In the modern era, women of the Nubia-Kush in Sudan are intentionally scarified with facial keloids as a means of decoration. The Nuer and Nuba use lip plugs, keloid tattoos along the forehead, keloid tattoos along the chin and above the lip, and cornrows. As a part of a ritual the people of Papua New Guinea cut their skin and insert clay or ash into the wounds so as to develop permanent bumps (known as keloids or weals). This painful ritual honors members of their tribe who are celebrated for their courage and endurance.


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