Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Topic Resources

What are keloids?

Keloids are overgrown scar tissue. They look like shiny, raised skin.

  • Keloids form in the months after an injury

  • They’re more common among darker-skinned people

What causes keloids?

Any kind of skin injury can cause keloids, such as:

  • Cuts

  • Surgery

  • Acne

Sometimes, keloids form for no clear reason.

What do keloids look like?

Keloids are:

  • Raised above your skin, as much as a quarter inch (about half a centimeter) higher

  • Shiny, hard, and smooth

  • Slightly pink or darkened skin

Keloids may itch or be sensitive, but they don't hurt.

How do doctors treat keloids?

Treatments to get rid of keloids don’t work very well. Doctors may try to flatten keloids by injecting them with medicines called corticosteroids.

Doctors can also use surgery or a laser to remove keloids. However, because keloids start in scars, keloids often just grow back. Sometimes they grow back even bigger. Some new medicines that slow down your immune system may help stop keloids from coming back. Wearing special patches or pressure garments (special, tight clothes) that press on the keloids also can help stop them from coming back.

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