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Keloid Scars Among Women: Causes and Treatments

Keloid Scars Among Women: Causes and Treatments

While this condition is seen in males and females, keloids are more prevalent in females.

Keloid? What’s that?

A keloid scar is a raised scar that, unlike hypertrophic scars, will grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound. They can vary in size from a small pea size bump to as large as a football. They can feel firm and rubbery, and vary in color from flesh tones, to red, and darker than the flesh of the patient.

The scar can appear rope like, like twisted taffy, or like spilled liquid that has firmed up, or even just a small ball or bump. A keloid can be as varied as the person who has it.

While keloids are relatively harmless they are known for pain and itching. Large scars, or scars in certain locations my affect mobility, but they are not a precancerous growth.

Where? Who?

It is first important to know your risk for growing these fascinating skin blemishes. There are measures of prevention, or early treatment that can help with prior information.

Where do keloids usually appear? Here are a few areas most often treated for keloids:

  • Ears
  • Torso
  • Neck
  • C-section/abdomen

Of course those locations may dictate the size of the growth. They can also occur on the face, from chickenpox scarring, pimples or scratches, piercings, and even shaving.

So who gets them most often? Most patients with keloid scarring tend to be in their 20’s, and of African, Asian, or Hispanic descents. Research shows that people with those racial backgrounds have 15-20% more likely to develop keloids. Family history is also common factors in patients being treated for keloids.

While this condition is seen in males and females, it is more prevalent in females, due to higher rates of ear piercings, hysterectomies, and shaving frequency.

Those who get tattoos, burns, piercings, braid their hair too tightly, or who over shave may be at a higher risk of developing a keloid. If one knows their risks, then they can avoid, or take precautions ahead of time.

Now What?

So you were careful about getting that piercing, but you have this reddish purple pea size, painful bump. What can you do to get rid of it? There are several ways to relieve or remove the keloid, but some methods will have up to a 75%-100% return rate.

Corticosteroid shots, freezing the scar, laser therapy, surgery, ligature therapy, radiation and compression may be the foremost ways of treating keloids.

Cryotherapy, or freezing the scar off, will work wonderfully on small scars, but there is a risk that they will return as the skin is healed. Combining cryotherapy with corticosteroid shots may work best, in the long wrong, and have a higher rate of long term success.

These shots may help flatten the scar, shrink it, and help with any discomforts it provides to the patient. Shots do have to be repeated often, at least every few weeks, with a 50-80% shrink rate, but may regrow within five years. Studies are showing that pressure dressing, or garments seem to be the best treatment thus far.

Putting pressure on the area any time reduces the blood flow to the scar, which can slow its growth and prevent future keloid growths. The success rate for compression therapies can be between 90-100% effective, but they can be difficult; often times, a patient must wear the compression item for the majority of the day, for months at a time. There are even special pressure earrings to help with keloids of the ears.

Keloid scars can be small, and hardly noticeable, and some are quite large and can be grotesque and bothersome. There are some methods to prevent and cure, but most of them are not one hundred percent effective. Trying to minimize the trauma to your skin is often the best course to decrease the chances of these scars altogether.

Keloid scars are formed when collagen over grows an area. Those with higher melatonin and collagen in their skin will always be more prone to this type of scaring. The future of dermatology will, no doubt, hold new hope for keloid treatments.

Raising Awareness for Ovarian Cancer Month!

This month we have the opportunity to turn up the volume on ovarian cancer — otherwise known as “The Whisper” or “The Silent Killer.” As you may sense from those nicknames, ovarian cancer is a dodgy lil’ beeyotch! Her symptoms are vague and most often missed — or misdiagnosed — as anything from endometriosis to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS is the most common misdiagnosis) or dismissed as plain ol’ gas or constipation. After all, no one wants to jump from thinking they are just bloated or have a bad stomachache to thinking it might be cancer! And there is currently no screening test, general or specific, for ovarian cancer. You read that correctly: none — yet.

I¬†was diagnosed at 28 years old with a rare form of ovarian cancer (I was initially misdiagnosed with IBS before heading in the gynecological direction). After exploratory surgery and a week later the full abdominal “unzip”, it was determined that it was Stage 3C ovarian cancer. Late-stage ovarian cancer at 28. Being the overachiever I am, I had not just any cancer or even a more common, treatable/survivable one; I had a cancer whose successful treatment statistics are about the same as guessing right in a shell game (at least it feels that way). Plus, with a rare form of it, I had to cut those stats in half! After surgery, a panel of doctors basically voted on whether or not chemo would even be effective for me. Because of my young age and the fact that I hadn’t had children yet, by majority rule, we went more aggressive and I began a six-month prescription of chemotherapy — which was interrupted by recurrence and another surgery, false remission for a year, and a final surgery in January 2003. This year marks my five year cancer-free milestone!

While there have been many developments and advances in the ovarian cancer chemo cocktail (a cocktail not nearly as fun as a mojito or margarita!), including anti-nausea and anti-allergenics, the most vital and imperative research we must implement is early detection for ovarian cancer. We can’t cure this disease being blind while she isn’t speaking up to be heard on time.

Early detection is the most powerful treatment for any cancer and it is imperative that we generate awareness and funding for this kind of research for ovarian cancer. As is stands today, more than half of ovarian cancer cases are discovered late-stage. And though the number of diagnoses is less than other more heavily-researched and publicized forms of gynecological cancers, due to late-stage diagnosis, it has the number-one highest fatality rate among gynecological cancers. In addition, with successful treatment, the five-year survival rate is around 35 percent in any stage of the disease (and that gets lower with each recurrence).

Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer, said, “Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” Strangely and unexpectedly, the word “elite” is accurate for me. I feel very special for having had — and survived — ovarian cancer, and my life has been transformed in the most beautiful and exquisite ways that I could never have imagined. The journey inspired me to create Bald Is Beautiful, through which I have dedicated my life to bringing information, inspiration, comfort, hope, encouragement, and empowerment to others on the cancer journey.

Still, while I survived and was able to find positivity and deep healing in the process, I would be happier if we could prevent others from having to face this disease without the benefit of early detection and more refined & successful treatments.

Thank you for letting me share and for reading! And remember: always smile from the inside out!

Some Extra Bytes:

Tune in to STAND UP 2 CANCER (live telecast on Friday, Sept 5 on NBC, ABC, CBS)

Check out CANARY FOUNDATION (dedicated to funding research for early detection, special focus on ovarian cancer)

Visit GILDA’S CLUB for my favorite cancer support organization in the world!! Support for patients (men, women, children with any form of cancer) and their friends/families/caregivers.