The formation of keloids is not very well understood, there is no special diet or medication for preventing them. When the body is injured anywhere – the skin, the liver or the heart – it responds by forming scar tissue. In most cases the scar tissue heals in a very predictable fashion and the injured area continues to function quite satisfactorily. On rare occasions, the formation of the scar is not well controlled by the body and too much scar forms. In some cases the scar just seems to “pile up” within the area of injury, and this is called a “hypertrophic scar.”

In other situations the scar tissue continues to grow and extends beyond the margin of the original scar, forming a keloid. Certain areas of the body are predisposed to these scars – the earlobes, chest and shoulders for example. They are most commonly seen in young black people but can also occur in Caucasians.

The most effective treatment is early diagnosis and treatment with injected steroid solution. This will frequently slow the scar production, but not always. Another early treatment is the application of silicone gel sheeting for at least 12 hours per day for a minimum of 3 months, it is effective in about one-third of patients.

Cortisone injections

These are safe and not very painful. Injections are usually given once per month until the maximum benefit is obtained. Injections are safe (very little steroid gets into the bloodstream) and usually help flatten keloids; however, steroid injections can also make the flattened keloid redder by stimulating the formation of more superficial blood vessels. (These can be treated using a laser).

Silicone sheets and gels

This involves wearing a sheet of silicone or gel on the affected area for several hours a day, it tends to flatten the scar.