Merck Manual

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Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Sep 2023
Topic Resources

Keloids are smooth overgrowths of fibroblastic tissue that arise in an area of injury (eg, lacerations, surgical scars, truncal acne) or, occasionally, spontaneously.

Keloids are more frequent in darker-skinned patients. They tend to appear on the upper trunk, especially the upper back and mid chest, and on deltoid areas. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloidal scar tissue extends beyond the margins of the wound or injury. They may appear spontaneously.

Various Manifestations of Keloids

Keloids are shiny, firm, smooth, usually ovoid but sometimes contracted or webbed, and slightly pink or hyperpigmented.

Diagnosis of Keloids

  • Clinical evaluation

Diagnosis of keloids is clinical.

Treatment of Keloids

  • Possibly corticosteroid injection, excision, gel sheeting, and/or immunomodulators

Treatment of keloids is often ineffective.

Monthly corticosteroid injections (eg, triamcinolone acetonide 5 to 40 mg/mL) into the lesion sometimes flatten the keloid.

Surgical or laser excision may debulk lesions, but they usually recur larger than before. Excision is more successful if preceded and followed by a series of intralesional corticosteroid injections. Gel sheeting (applying a soft, semiocclusive dressing made of cross-linked polymethylsiloxane polymer, or silicone) or pressure garments are other adjuncts to prevent recurrence.

More recently, immunomodulators (eg, topical imiquimod) have been used to prevent keloid development or recurrence.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Aristocort, Aristocort A, Aristocort Forte, Aristocort HP, Aristo-Pak, Aristospan, Azmacort, Children's Nasacort Allergy 24HR Nasal Spray, Cinalog, Cinolar, Flutex, Hexatrione, Kenalog, Kenalog in Orabase, Kenalog-10, Kenalog-40, Kenalog-80, Nasacort, Nasacort AQ, Oralone, SP Rx 228 , Tac-3 , Triacet , Triamonide , Trianex , Triderm , Triesence, XIPERE, Zilretta
Aldara, Zyclara
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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