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Some people have keloid scars as the result of piercings, though they can also be caused by everyday cuts, bites and other skin issues including scratching at acne. People often mistake hypertrophic scars for keloid scars but this form of scarring is very distinctive. When a scar turns into a keloid, it grows far larger than is usual for scarring, often turning pink, red or brown in colour. Keloids will feel hard and rubbery and may continue to grow into healthy tissue, separating them completely from regular scarring. Those of Afro-Caribbean descent are far more at risk of developing keloid scars whilst the risk of men to women seems about equal. Whilst keloids are quite unusual compared to the other dangers of piercings (i.e. infections and allergic reactions), these scars are incredibly difficult to remove and can continue to grow exponentially. Keloid removal is often a mixture of steroid injections and can involve excision (where the keloids are surgically removed) but these scars can return, with many treatments still resulting in a 50% re-emergence.   

Keloid scars don’t just develop around a piercing but can also occur inside the body, such as inside the lobe with ear piercings. A keloid scar is not contagious in any way but it can cause a great deal of irritation and even pain. Large keloid scars can inhibit movement in extreme cases and some have reported that they can smell unpleasant when relating to body medication. If you are concerned about keloids or feel that you may be developing keloid scars then consult your GP immediately. It’s worth mentioning that many people advise home remedies for keloids, such as tea tree oil and camomile but this is most likely because they mistake far more common problems with piercings for keloid scars. We would always advise that if your body modification is healing in a way that you feel concerned about, you should always seek advice from a medical professional. 

With practises like scarification, some people desire keloid scars because they are raised from the skin. However this will create an uneven texture and the keloids may continue to grow over time, so it is not a suggested for body modification. Always remember to get advise as quickly as possible if you develop symptoms of what you think might be keloid scarring, even if this turns out not to be the case then this is still a more responsible way to deal with the possible dangers of piercings. 

Keloid Scars
  • Are hard and rubbery and can appear anywhere on the body, can feel irritated and cause pain
  • Differ from other scars as they will raise up from the skin and begin to invade healthy tissue
  • Keloids are far more likely to occur in those with high skin pigmentation, particularly those of Afro-Caribbean descent. 
  • Can continue to grow, causing tightness of skin and irritation
  • Can be treated with steroids, surgical removal and other procedures but can still return over time