7 Dos and Don'ts for Getting Rid of Keloids

How to Minimize Keloid Scars Safely

Keloids are raised scars you might develop after a skin injury, like a piercing or surgery. When keloids form, they can grow or become misshapen due to abnormal overgrowth of scar tissue as a wound heals. In rare cases, people develop a spontaneous keloid in an area where they were never injured.

Certain people are prone to keloids, which can occur anywhere on the body and may be more bothersome in certain places. Areas that are highly noticeable or where your skin rubs together are some of the more difficult places to live with a keloid.

This article will explore how keloids form and the dos and don'ts of getting rid of keloids.

close up image of keloids on the back and shoulder

piccerella / Getty Images

Factors That Influence Keloid Healing

Keloids form because the body produces excess collagen during the healing process. Although anyone can potentially develop a keloid, some people are more likely to have keloid-prone skin, such as:

  • People of Black, Asian, or Latinx ethnicity
  • People with more melanin and darker skin tones
  • People with a family history of keloids
  • People aged 10 to 30 years of age

Keloids also can develop during pregnancy.

Keloids and Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones can contribute to keloid formation, as well as the changing appearance of other scar tissue. The size and color of scars may fade after delivery, but most of the time, it is because pregnant people have more treatment options after pregnancy than during.

Keloid treatment during pregnancy is not well-researched, and if you develop keloids during pregnancy, you'll likely be advised to delay treatment until after delivery.

Keloids can develop from any injury or spontaneously in rare cases. However, certain types of injuries are associated with keloid development:

  • Deeper wounds
  • Body piercings
  • Burns
  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Bug bites
  • Surgical incisions or wounds
  • Tattoos
  • Inflammatory skin diseases
  • Crush aspirin tablets to make a paste and apply it to a scar.

  • Apply honey to the affected area.

  • Try topical garlic or onion extract.

  • Talk to a healthcare provider about medical treatment options.

  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide or other products that could dry out a wound.

  • Do not epose your scar to the sun without any sun protection.

  • Do not act impulsively (consider your risk of keloids before getting a piercing, tattoo, or engaging in other activities that increase your risk).

Home Remedies for Keloids

Prevention is generally regarded as the best strategy for dealing with keloid-prone skin. The following home remedies may assist in wound healing and preventing a scar from developing into a keloid:

  • Aspirin: Crushed aspirin tablets made into a paste and applied to the scar for one or two hours may help reduce scars that appear larger or darker due to inflammation.
  • Honey: Honey is used in various skin treatments and wound dressings for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce scar size and appearance. Certain types of honey, however, are noted to be more potent and possibly more effective than others, including Kelulut honey (a honey with strong antioxidant properties).
  • Garlic: Garlic historically has been used as a home remedy for wound healing and infection prevention. Several studies have shown that garlic extract applied topically helps prevent and treat scars. Allicin is the active ingredient that is believed to help lighten and reduce scar size and improve healing.
  • Onion: Onion extract, sometimes sold as a topical ointment called Cepalin, has anti-inflammatory properties to prevent scar tissue formation. According to some experts, onion is the next best thing for scar prevention next to silicone-based products.

Medical Treatments for Keloids

There are several medications and therapies to help reduce the appearance of keloids. However, these options also warn that some keloids can worsen after treatment.

Since keloids form from scar tissue, they can form again in the area that is left to heal after keloid removal. The most effective keloid treatment strategies include:

  • Cryotherapy (using extreme cold at freezing or near-freezing temperatures)
  • Injected medications (like triamcinolone acetonide)
  • Laser therapy
  • Adjuvant intralesional kenalog
  • Pressure or superficial radiation
  • Topical or injectable 5-fluorouracil (a type of chemotherapy)

In one study, keloids treated with laser therapy returned in 95% of people. Recurrence was less common in treatments like injected medication, but treatment efficacy varies from person to person.

Another technique used to treat facial keloids employs a flap of skin left over the keloid's surface after its removal. The thought is that preserving the keloid skin flap over the section of scar tissue that is removed can help prevent the formation of a new keloid.

Talk to a healthcare provider about your risks and expected results before starting therapies or keloid treatments.

Keloids and Piercings: What You Should Know

Keloid formation is a common complication of ear piercing, though the risk is the same with piercings anywhere if you are prone to keloids. Though common, keloids are challenging to treat and often require various types of treatment to see noticeable improvement.

There is no single, most effective way to treat them. Before getting a piercing, consider your skin type and family history, and talk to a healthcare provider to learn about your risk of developing a keloid scar.

How to Prevent Keloids

Once you develop a keloid, it can be challenging to eliminate. People with keloid-prone skin or a history of keloid scars should take special precautions to protect themselves from injuries that could turn into a keloid. This might mean avoiding body piercings, tattoos, and elective or cosmetic surgeries.

If you have surgery or develop an injury, proper wound care may help you prevent a keloid. Steps to prevent a wound from turning into a keloid may include things like:

You should also protect healing skin from the sun to help prevent discoloration and keloid formation. Keloids can take time to appear, and sun damage can make these scars more visible. Using sunscreen and other sun protection can help minimize keloid appearance.

Ways to Improve Self-Esteem

If you have keloid-prone skin, the chances that one of these scars will appear on a visible part of your body are high. In a study of 61 people with exposed keloid scars, researchers found that 40% of people reported that their scars negatively impacted their self-image.

Itching, movement restrictions, and other discomforts are some physical symptoms that can come with a keloid. There are also psychosocial effects like depression, anxiety, and other daily stresses that can be associated with these scars.

A healthcare provider or therapist can help you manage your perception of scarring, especially in highly noticeable areas. Knowing your risk of developing a keloid and how to reduce excessive scarring can help you cope.

Other coping strategies include:

  • Join a support group or find a community of people who share your experience.
  • Consider cognitive behavioral therapy (a form of talk therapy) to examine and change dysfunctional beliefs and self-assumptions and help with decision-making, overcoming social anxiety, and improving your self-worth.
  • Try counseling or meditation to help improve your response to anxiety or stress about your appearance.


Keloids are scars that grow larger than most and usually appear raised or darker than your natural skin. These scars can cause discomfort and stress but have the most impact when they develop in noticeable areas. If you are prone to keloid scarring, carefully consider piercings or optional procedures that could lead to scar formation.

If you can't avoid a surgery or injury that might leave a facial scar, a healthcare provider can provide treatment options to help minimize the appearance of keloids and other resources to help you cope.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN
Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse based near Cleveland, Ohio.