Keloids are overgrowths of scar tissue that go beyond the boundaries of the original wound or injury. They can form anywhere on the body but are most common on the chest, shoulders, ears, and cheeks. Keloids tend to be firm, rubbery growths that are shiny and darker than surrounding skin.
While small keloids may shrink over time, larger ones often continue to grow and expand, causing symptoms like pain, itching, redness, and restricted mobility if they form over a joint. Getting rid of keloids can be challenging, but there are several natural treatment options that may help minimize their size and symptoms.
Understand What Causes Keloids to Form
Keloids form due to an overactive wound healing response. Collagen and other scar tissue continues to build up at the site of an injury, even after the wound has closed. Researchers believe keloids may be more common in people with darker skin tones and those between the ages of 10 and 30. Genetics also play a role, as keloids tend to run in families.
When the skin is injured, cells called fibroblasts in the dermis layer produce collagen to close and heal the wound. In people prone to keloids, the fibroblasts continue proliferating and producing excessive scar tissue long after the wound has closed. This leads to the expanded, raised growths characteristic of keloids.
Try Topical Treatments
Several natural remedies can be applied directly to keloids to help soften and shrink the scar tissue. These include:
- Onion extract: Onions contain compounds that may help reduce keloid redness and itching. Apply onion extract to the keloid 2-3 times per day.
- Honey: Honey reduces the inflammation and keloid size. Apply pure raw honey to the area several times a day.
- Aloe vera: The cooling gel from the aloe vera plant can help soothe irritation and inflammation. Apply aloe vera gel liberally throughout the day.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil may reduce keloid scarring when applied 2-3 times daily. It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
- Apple cider vinegar: The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help shrink keloids. Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and dab it onto keloids several times a day.
- Coconut oil: Hydrating coconut oil may flatten and soften keloids over time. Gently massage coconut oil into the affected area multiple times per day.
Use Herbal Remedies
Certain herbs have properties that combat inflammation and overgrowth of scar tissue. These can be taken orally or applied topically. Examples include:
- Gotu kola: This herb contains compounds that inhibit keloid fibroblasts. Take 500 mg capsules daily or apply gotu kola extract to keloids.
- Calendula: Calendula flower extract reduces inflammation and repairs skin. Apply calendula oil or lotions containing this herb.
- Chamomile: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits. Take chamomile supplements or apply chamomile essential oil.
- Green tea: The antioxidants in green tea may shrink keloids. Drink 1-2 cups of green tea daily or use green tea extracts topically.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Take turmeric capsules daily or make the spice into a paste to apply.
Consider Home Treatments
There are also some home remedies and lifestyle changes that can assist with reducing the appearance and symptoms of keloids:
- Apply a compressed cold pack or ice cubes wrapped in cloth to new keloids for 10-20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation.
- Cover keloids with silicone sheets or gel – these provide compression to flatten scars.
- Use sun protection on keloids whenever outside, as sun exposure can make them grow larger.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing that avoids irritation and friction on keloids.
- Avoid picking at or scratching keloids, which can further damage skin and spur more scar growth.
- Quit smoking if you smoke cigarettes, as smoking impedes wound healing.
- Manage any other skin conditions like psoriasis or acne, which increase keloid risk.
When to See a Doctor
In severe cases of large, painful, or restrictive keloids, it may be necessary to visit a dermatologist. They can determine if more aggressive scar treatment methods are needed, like:
- Steroid injections – Corticosteroid injections can shrink keloids by suppressing the immune response and inflammation. Most people need multiple injection sessions.
- Cryotherapy – Freezing keloids with liquid nitrogen causes them to slough off after treatment. Have to do for few weeks.
- Laser therapy – Lasers heat up and destroy excess scar tissue, helping smooth and flatten keloids.
- Radiation – Radiation is used to stop excessive fibroblast activity and halt keloid growth. High doses may be needed to penetrate thick scars.
- Silicone gel sheets – Custom-fitted silicone sheets can be worn long-term to compress keloids and make them less noticeable.
- Surgical removal – In severe, resistant cases, surgical removal maybe required.. However, keloids often return after excision. Other therapies are to prevent recurrence.
While you can’t always prevent keloids from forming, you can reduce your risk by:
- Avoiding unnecessary trauma or irritation to skin that may cause wounds or injuries prone to poor healing.
- Using sun protection and not picking at scabs or skin imperfections to avoid creating wounds.
- Taking care to minimize injury during activities like contact sports.
- Treating wounds with antibiotics and proper wound care to promote healing.
- Applying silicone tape or sheets over healing incisions or injuries to compress and protect them.
- Getting piercings and tattoos only from reputable shops using sterile technique to minimize trauma.
In summary, keloids can be frustrating and difficult to treat. But natural remedies like herbal treatments, vitamin supplements, and home therapies can often help minimize the appearance and discomfort of these overgrown scars. For severe or very large keloids, professional scar treatment by a dermatologist may be necessary. With patience and persistence, it is often possible to achieve significant improvement and find relief from annoying keloids.