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- What are keloids?
- Why are keloids so difficult to treat?
- Commercial treatments that may work
- Home remedies that may work
- More about iodine and how it can help
- How the home remedies help keloids… by treating the infection underneath
- When a keloid might not be a keloid
- Keloids that spread / recurring infections
- Surgery-related scarring and internal keloids
- Can tattoos lead to keloids?
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can lead to irritation
- Special precautions when using garlic
- Keloid formation is linked to iodine deficiency in diet
- Iodine — applying it topically on keloids and ingesting it
- Why are most home remedies not sold commercially by pharmaceutical companies?
- Itching and pain associated with keloids
- How to remove remaining scar tissue after successful keloid treatment
Other keloid remedies and assorted advice/observations
- Cutting off blood circulation to the keloid by tying it off with a string or rubber band
- Contractubex gel
- Healthier diet (more fruits and vegetables)
- Foods that affect keloids
- Kenalog injections and silicone gel sheets
- Castor oil
- Tea tree oil
- Silver nitrate
- Tips for preventing keloids in the first place
- Tip for those considering surgery to remove their keloids
Keloid formation is a topic that desperately requires more medical research and attention. Keloids are scars that have continued to grow past the size of the original wound. Some keloids occur on parts of the body that restrict movement. Some cause pain and itching.
They can afflict people of all races, but tend to occur most frequently across races with darker skin tones like Asians, Hispanics, Italians, and Blacks. The Japanese tend to not have keloid scarring, probably as keloids are linked to iodine deficiency and the traditional Japanese diet is rich in iodine (seaweed). Keloids may also be hereditary.
Why are keloids so difficult to treat?
Often, keloids grow larger with further injury. Treatments like surgical excisions and lasers can cause keloids to grow even larger.
Keloid treatment is also tricky because results tend to vary across treatments. Treatments like corticosteroid injections have worked well for some people, but made some cases worse, and others to work initially, then rebound.
Some traditional chinese medicine (TCM) have also worked well for some, but not all.
Newly-formed keloids also respond better to treatments than old ones.
Because of these, I can’t recommend anything as being the “definitive treatment”. Instead, I have compiled a list of treatments that have been known to produce results for some. Thus, a combination of treatments may be the best answer.
If you have had success in treating your keloid, please help others with this quick poll on which method worked best for you.
- Silicone dressing
- Steroid injections
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Hei Ba Gao paste (TCM/traditional Chinese medicine)
- Tea tree oil
A lot has already been written online about the above commercial treatments, so I won’t go into further detail here.
- Make a paste by mixing one part baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and one part 3% hydrogen peroxide. Apply directly on keloid, and reapply as necessary.
- Apply apple cider vinegar (ACV) on the keloid and let dry. Re-apply every half hour and do this for at least several hours. If ACV is too irritating, you can safely dilute it with water. (Rebecca kindly shared her method of applying ACV here and described her progress here. Her keloid is 2 years old and on her chest. )
- Make a thick paste by crushing aspirin and mixing it with water. Apply directly on keloid, and reapply as necessary. (Sarah shared her method here, “First crush about 3 aspirin tablets into a powder. Then add only a few drops of water, until the mixture becomes a paste.Apply it on the keloid with a Q-tip and let the mixture dry (about 15-20 minutes) and then wash it off rubbing gently with water. This can be repeated once everyday until the keloid goes away. I only did this twice along with the tea tree oil and it worked. Also, for anyone who just got a piercing, I would highly recommend H2Ocean antiseptic.”
- Garlic oil or crushed garlic (use with utmost caution and wash off should you feel too much burning!)
- Potassium Iodide/Iodine is another simple remedy that may work well on keloids. Apply it over the keloid several times a day until you see some flattening. Look for SSKI (Saturated Solution Potassium Iodide) at health food stores and pharmacies. If you cannot obtain SSKI or have difficulty doing so, a weaker substitute can be found in Lugol’s Solution. Lugol’s Solution is a simple mixture of potassium iodide, iodine, and water and can be bought at most aquarium/pet fish stores.
Painting iodine over keloids & iodine supplementation to prevent keloids
There are also claims that topical iodine application (usually used as an antiseptic on cuts and wounds) can minimize scar formation. Iodine has the ability to trigger natural cell death (or apoptosis). Thus, repeat applications of iodine on a lesion causes it to be replaced by new skin.
For more about this, I recommend reading Dr. David Derry’s article. In it, he says, “From my own clinical experience, repeated application of iodine to the skin appears to cause regeneration of the skin from the bottom up (stem cell) — eventually sloughing the old version of the skin off like a snake molting. If there was a pre-cancerous lesion on the old skin, it is replaced with new skin minus the lesion. There does not seem to be any skin lesions which are not helped or cured by this procedure.”
Here is a case study of a housewife (opens a pdf) who was treated with Iodex (an iodine salve). She had an 8cm-long scar which restricted the movement of her toe. After 6 months of using Iodex, she regained a normal range of motion.
As keloid formation is linked to iodine deficiency, ingesting an iodine supplement (e.g. Iodoral) may also help reduce keloid scars from the inside out or prevent them from occuring in the first place. However, if you want to supplement with iodine, I give you this friendly warning: prepare yourself sufficiently first by reading about iodine supplementation and bromism. This is because iodine supplements such as Iodoral will cause some very undesirable detox symptoms including acne and body aches.
Iodine supplementation displaces poisons from your cells such as bromide and heavy metals, leading to a heavy load on your kidneys and liver. Therefore, tread lightly and read up for your own health before starting. Here is an excellent place to start: Iodine and Orthoiodosupplementation
How home remedies help keloids: by treating the infection underneath
The home remedies above are based on the belief that keloids form because there was an infection (viral, bacterial or fungal) left behind when the wound was first created.
Because the infection remained, the body creates excess scar tissue in response to the irritant. This effectively “encases” the problem infection by blocking it off from the rest of the body.
With the thickened scar tissue in place, blood circulation in the keloid becomes much more hindered. This makes it even harder for the body to slowly dissolve the scar on its own – so the keloid remains indefinitely.
And since the root of the infection remains buried underneath, the keloid remains volatile and will continue to produce more tissue should it encounter further damage or injury along the way.
Thus, treating the infection is the crux of the matter when it comes to the home remedy methods.
To jumpstart the breaking down of your keloids, consider fasting. Fasting has numerous health benefits, and can help reduce keloids because without food, your body will scavenge for dead and diseased cells, burning them up for energy. These includes excess collagen and abnormal cells in keloids and hypertrophic scars. Larisa kindly shared about how fasting helped reduce one of her newer keloid scars here (thanks Larisa!).
List of Selected Comments and Questions/Answers
Over time, this page has gotten a long list of comments. Some of these comments had valuable information in them, but I feared that they might be overlooked by most visitors. So I decided to create this list of more significant comments by topic.
- I update this list periodically as more comments come in.
- This section includes extracts of the selected comments for easy reading.
- Thank You to all the commenters for sharing!
- Piercing-related bump
Many people have reported that they developed bumps shortly after getting piercings. Most of the time, these are not keloids but are simply infected bumps. If the bump resembles a blister, is soft to the touch and appear to contain some liquid, then it’s probably not a keloid. These piercing-related bumps can still be treated with the remedies though, and several have reported good results using ACV and sea salt soaks.
Chris said, “I just got a double eye brow piercing 2 months ago, within the last 2 days i noticed something that might be a keloid. He also said it “seems to be fairly soft to the touch, it has a bit of give when pressed lightly, it seems possible that it does contain fluids.”
Karen said, “It has been about a month that I’ve have a keloid on my tragus from a piercing I believe I did not clean well. Another keloid started to grow on the other side of the original keloid, so it was in my ear. Two days ago, the inside keloid “popped” blood…”.
Within a week Karen reported back to say that her bump had shrunk after her sea salt soaks, “My bump shrunk to half its size with the soaking! However, the bump on the inside of my ear is slowly growing back.”
Paulina commented with, “I just got my tongue re-pierced about 5 days ago and i have a small bump next to my piercing. i went back to the place where i got it done and they said it could be a keloid”
Mel said, “I’ve had my ear pierced for over 8 years now. I have a keloid on my right ear which is quite large. I am going to see a plastic surgeon next month to have it removed. That keloid developed soon after I first got the piercing. I have not worn an earing in either ear in close to 7 years. However I’ve noticed yesterday that the other ear, which has been fine all these years, has a small bump that is a bit painful. I am terrified that a keliod might be forming there as well.” She later reported that ACV successfully removed the growing bump on her other ear.
sam said, “i had piercing 4 yrs. ago, then my ear got infected because the piercing created a wound when i was about to put my earrings in, then after that i didn’t wore my earrings anymore but after a few weeks a bump in the back of my ear started to grow then after a few months it became larger and larger and and up to this time its about 6x the size of what wasst back then, is the bump in the back of my ear a keloid or something else”
Kirsty said, “I had my nose pierced approx 5 weeks ago and it has healed pretty well up until the last week or so where now it has raised skin up around half of the edge of the stud and bleeds a little now and then when I clean it. Its seems soft to the touch and similarly resembles that of a blood blister.” She later gave an update to say that it was an infected bump and not a keloid and that she successfully treated it with Betadine (Betadine is an over-the-counter iodine-based antiseptic). She said, “Every night since then I have applied it and it scabbed bit by bit and the lump has completely healed up apart from some slight redness which I put down to it being a fairly new piercing still. I now believe it was a small infection and Betadine is developed to heal that type of thing.”
- Hypertrophic/raised scars
Faye said “I have a scar that formed on my nostril after a scratch and the scar itself wont heal. It’s not a scab that forms, but it seems like overgrowth of flesh colored skin that can be picked off like a scab. On the occasions that it is picked off, there’s a small area that looks like an unhealed cut. The skin under the “scab” forms a small bump and it’s the same color as the rest of the skin.”
2. Keloids that spread / recurring infections
Marie first shared about her keloids that would get better then “return with a vengence”. Her steroid injections were not helpful and antibiotics didn’t work. Marie later kindly commented again to report that her recurring infections has stopped after using ACV twice a day. The keloid remains but there has been a “slight flattening” to it. It is also less red and itchy.
Marie reported back her results after using the ACV method for about 6-7 months. The keloids on her chest are now lighter in colour and the recurring infections have ceased. Althought her keloids are not getting smaller, they are also not getting bigger. She also advised other users of the ACV method not to rub in the ACV but just pat it on and around the keloid.
She later came back with her long-term results and experience from using ACV, in that ACV has stopped working as her keloid has grown immune to it.
Marie wrote, “ACV helps during the initial weeks but the keloid has since turned immune to ACV. Every now and then the keloid on my chest ooze pus and it can get extremely painful. Seen G.P. and was given antibiotic on many occasions. I have also developed an immunity to antibiotics. Eventually I was referred to consult a skin specialist at the renowned National Skin Centre.
The Specialist told me there are two sinus tracks that where the pus is oozing from. Two cultures were taken with no bacteria found. The last option is to laser the keloid and try and clean out the tracks and hopefully keloid would grow and cover the tracks.
So with no other option, I went through a very painful laser procedure just yesterday. The laser itself was alright, its the first 3 injections and pressing the keloid to rid the sec of pus that really hurts. I will probably have to go for follow-up kenacort injections in the coming months which I dread. The Prof. who did the laser said he is not sure if this will help. So I can only look towards God for a miracle.”
Laura wrote, “I have had keloids on my chest for several decades. Originally they were both sebaceous cysts that were removed by a dermatologist, that had become keloids. Following that I had them reincised by a plastic surgeon, which only served to create two larger keloids. They tried giving me an androgen block creme, and later, cortisone injections (in the chest which I do NOT recommend); it was EXTREMELY painful!
Eventually, one of them flattened out a bit, but the hole of the injection site is still visible. I can’t say that It really helped, and now I will not do anything that is not a natural treatment. Over the years, I can say that I have had the redness of these scars seem to have MIGRATED across my chest/breast area. One previously whole scar, had now split into two smaller, red scars, with “normal” skin in between. It is very strange. As the scar tissue is quite dense, I try to massage the scars, though it is uncomfortable, but am hoping to help break up the dense tissue.
I should say that originally these mostly came about from “picking”. Though some of the migrated ones just came up out of what appears to be nowhere.”
Merlin developed internal keloids from surgery to remove uterine fibroids. She writes, “I did surgery to remove fibroids and a year after my surgery, I started to develop this swelling which became very painful especially during my menstrual cycle. Over the past years, it has become very hard and it’s only on one side of the cut that I have it.”
Amy’s keloids came from a mastoidectomy, or surgery behind the ear. She said “I have a round “growth” or “swelling” behind my earlobe – in the part that connects the head to the ear. It is soft, not hard like a sebaceous cyst (which I suffer from on other parts of my body). This feels like a water blister at first touch, but if you press more is a bit harder than softer. I am diabetic.
1) My derm said it was a cyst.
2) My ENT said it was a “skin infection”. He said there was nothing to drain. Put me on antibiotics 2x a day 300 mg. “
Ruth developed keloids accompanied with pain following several knee surgeries. She said “I have had several operations on my knee (years ago) and as a result I had developed a lot of scar tissue (keloids?) in there. I also have Chondromalacia. I have had pain in my knee since the operations.”
Joanna had keloids following a skin graft. Her keloids formed both on the donor site (her calf) and the recipient site (her thigh). She said “I had a skin graft done about six months ago on my calf and the donor skin was from the side of my thigh. Now I have Keloids on both of the wounds and the donor skin on the side of my thigh is 3×4 inches big and it is all Keloids. Before I had problems with the donor side I used Mederma and a had a bad reaction to it. So, afterwords my doner side was very itchy, red and had a bumpy texture.”
Mark’s keloids formed internally following spinal fusion surgery and are threatening to choke his nerve root sheaths. He said “Four months ago, I had Spinal Fusion Surgery. Now I am told that there is Keloid Scarring building up inside my back. Eventually it will choke off the nerve root sheaths. An MRI shows that the scar tissue is already to dense to differentiate between the scar or nerve tissue. Subsequently… no surgery possible.”
If anyone has any information that can help Mark, pls share it with us through the comments.
Wayne developed keloids following an otoplasty, or surgery to pin back the ears. He writes, “I had me ears pinned back when I was 11 (28 now) and have had about 8 ops to remove the keloids surgically, they reform every time and continue growing…”
Merlin asked, “could Keloids develop with Tattoos, as I am contemplating of getting one done.”
My answer: Yes, tattoos can cause keloids if you’re prone to getting them. If you do decide to get a tattoo, be sure to take extra precautions to avoid infection during the critical healing period. Keloid formation is also tied to iodine deficiency, so it’s a good idea to take iodine supplements prior to getting the tattoo and for some time after.
Alek mentioned his own experience post-tattoo, “i have got something like keloid after having my tattoo done, the flowers with red ink got swollen, n kinda hard, ,black ink doesn’t, its been like this for 3 months, please tell me what should i do?”
If anyone has experience with tattoo scarring and healing, please share any insights you have.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar can lead to irritation
(solution: dilute the ACV with water)
Apple Cider Vinegar applied on the skin can sting and lead to redness as it is quite acidic. To minimize any discomfort and the risk of further injury, it might be necessary to dilute your ACV with some water and/or reducing the number of daily applications. Sometimes a break may also be necessary to give the skin time to rest and heal.
Ian writes, “I tried using ACV and following your advise to another person applied it overnight to the affected area soaked into cotton wool. Unfortunately this resulted in a slight “burning” of the surrounding skin, leaving it very inflamed and dry.”
filly wrote “i have tried both apple cider vinegar and baking soda/hydrogen peroxide and it has some effect on my keloid. I found that after using acv it started to dry out my keloid, but also got my keloid very irritated to the point that it has grew a bit bigger. the acv is very harsh on the skin and it gives u a stinging sensation.”
filly’s 2nd comment: “after 3 days of ACV application on my keloid i can see something happening i have noticed that the color of my keloid has changed from darker red to lighter red and also it has gone softer. now im hoping that it will flatten my keloid after a month. i got to admit that it actually burns and sting when you use ACV. my theory is that when you use ACV its actually burning or cooking the keloid. its like applying a vinegar to a raw meat it will eventually will cook the meat.”
Amir used ACV pretty aggressively. He wrote, “I have been reapplying the ACV on the keyloid around 5-6 times per day, After the 1st day, every time I reapply the ACV, the keyloid stings for a while and gets kind of an intense sting at times, although I am bearing it. Occasionally, the keyloid bleeds as soon as I apply ACV on it. Also, the keyloid sometimes has some clear liquid forming on it. I just wipe it off and reapply the ACV again. I’ve noticed that some scabs have formed on the keyloid. I think it has flattened some, and narrowed as well, although it is hard to tell. It does appear to be breaking down however, as some parts of the keyloid are scabbed and some skin has “burned” off as the keyloid isn’t smooth anymore. Some places on the keyloid, it seems like more skin has “burned” off. Another thing is that the keyloid is more sensitive to pain. It slightly hurts when I touch the keyloid. And putting normal t-shirts on irritates the keyloid as the shirt is rubbing on it. It itches more often, and is more volatile, by giving those sudden twinging pains that those who have keyloids KNOW what I’m talking about. I just hope and pray that this ACV is working, because I do perceive the keyloid to be shrinking.”
Sharon Brown wrote, “I saw the comments about the apple cider vinegar and decided to try it. At first the keloid on my ear began to look so irritated, I almost stopped. I was putting a soaked cotton ball on it and used a band aid to hold it in place. The vinegar actually is dissolving the keloid, within one week my keloid is half the size it used to be.”
Chris wrote “I decided to try the ACV method (also drinking 2 tablespoons a day). I use a q-tip and just run it along my keloids on my jaw. It stings for a little while, but it’s not unbearable. I do this about 10 times a day. The keloids seem to have dried out, but they’ve also become very red”
Felix wrote, “I place a cotton ball with ACV behind my ear on the keloid and tape it in place. What I have noticed (I have been doing this for only a day) is that this seems to only make the keloid worse (maybe my imagination but I cannot be sure I’m already self-conscious enough about this).” Felix also talks about how his keloid tends to act up in winter. One year later, Felix kindly came back to share his update here where he also gave more details about the effect of the weather/changing temperature has on his keloid.
Amanda gave a detailed account of using ACV over 5 weeks. So far, her 7-year old keloid has shrunk and flattened. She also gives some tips and advice.
I have to say thankyou to Sam, and the contributing members. I am a keloid sufferer myself, my case isn’t as severe though. I just thought I would contribute my story because I promised myself that IF one of the remedies suggested here works on minimizing or leaves no trace of my keloid, I would comment. And, so here I am.
Anyways my keloid is approximately 1.5cm wide, the thickness I would say 0.5cm and is located on my chest. My keloid is 7 years old, had it since I was 15 and now I am 22. In the duration of ‘on and off’ again treatment of ACV (apple cider vinegar – ‘Cornwells premium ACV’ 100% natural) for 2 months, it has shrunk to 1cm in width and has flattened a little out. Here’s my procedure:
1) Rip a cotton ball in half, stretch it out so that it covers your keloid completely. Make sure that the cotton you’ve stretched out isn’t too thick, because in that case the cotton ball WILL be eating up the ACV rather than your keloid!
2) Dip the cotton in ACV, make sure its not drenched. You don’t want it dripping on your skin, but you do want it wet enough. What I do is because my ACV is in a glass bottle and has an opening of 2cm wide, I just place the cotton on the opening and tip the bottle slightly to get the cotton wet enough. (Try to make sure that your cotton has some dry sections so that you can place sticky tape onto your skin properly to hold it in place on the keloid).
3) Place cotton onto keloid, use sticky tape to hold it in place.
4) Once the cotton is dried up (usually close to 1 hr or so), replace the cotton and do the whole procedure again throughout the day, and when it comes to night just leave it on till morning.
*Note: This procedure won’t work for everyone, but of course there is hope that it will. Persistance is the key, so keep trying and do NOT give up. I think this is a better solution than going for surgery or injections because it’s inexpensive and it is of course natural. By the way, these procedures are just an outline, you can do the application however you want to do it, the objective is to have ACV on the keloid.
My first few experiences in about a week of continuous treatment. What I did notice was that my keloid tingled and was looking more pinky-red and had little circular pus like growths underneath the skin. Also my healthy skin was affected by the ACV as well, because I drenched my cotton in ACV and taped it drenched. So that was a lesson to be learnt! And, signs of laziness lol.
Second week, I left the keloid alone because it started to swell, and plus I didn’t want to further damage my healthy skin. What I did do was clean it with water and then WIPED it with ACV and left it alone to aerate.
Third week, I did the whole procedure again, yet it wasn’t as consistent as the first week. Yes I saw improvement, the pus-like undergrowth surfaced had popped itself and left a little hole in the keloid. During the third week, for some reason I started to experiment and poked the keloid with a pin which I doused in ACV prior to doing that. It hurt, but I didn’t care, my mentality was to just get rid of it. The next morning after that, it was swollen and it hurted. But nothing that I couldn’t handle. What I did was just put ice on it to stop the swelling. It went down and after that I left it to recover for 2 days only.
Fourth week, keloid was turning black and was scabbing. I was very excited indeed. On-off application once again. (I get lazy, plus I had exams to study for). During that week, scab fell off and it turned yellowy-white looking, and looked smaller as well.
Fifth week till now, I don’t put it on as frequent as the earlier days, probably 3 times weekly or less. Progress of keloid continues to improve with each week. I will update you guys if you want, but everything seems to be going to plan. Outcome: keloid = dead. lol
In conclusion, I would say do give it a try. And, you know DON’T put ACV on when you’re going out, because you do smell funny. My sister said the ACV made me smell like BAD FEET ODOUR LOL. Which I thought to myself, “yeah right”. I thought I smelt like salt and vinegar chips instead… apparently not as my mum thought the same thing as my sister! But yeah weekend and night time application is good enough to keep continually killing the keloid. Be patient, and take note of what you see and feel, because you are the one who can determine whether it is working for you or not. So you know, common sense says if your keloid is swelling up or inflamed, give it a break from ACV. And, when you do go out, well since mine is on my chest I first wipe it down with ACV, then put a bandaid on it. When I come home, I shower then re-apply as normal again.
Anyways I hope this helps all you lot out, my voice is just to confirm the suggested application on this site has contributed to the ‘downsizing’ of my keloid. =)
Amanda later followed up with another update and a recommendation for a balm called Agnijith:
Hey guys! I’m back again. I stopped using ACV, as I ran out of it. As I stopped it grew back again. Filling up the holes the ACV made, its still the same size as it was without the ACV, thank goodness. Although I would have preferred if it just disappeared altogether. Anyways, I’ve found something that is a reasonable price it is from India. I happened to stumble across this website.
It’s a balm called AGNIJITH. It treats burns, keloids etc. Heres the website http://www.padanjaly.com/medicine.htm. I do believe in this product, as I have this little protruding scar from an insect bite and I just applied Agnijith balm for the heck of it for one day. And…surprisingly next morning, its noticeably flatter. So guys this is a natural remedy, and I recommend you do check out the website, it sounds very promising. It cost me 76.38 Australian dollars, it is priced at $75 US for 90 Gms, which I believe is quite reasonable. Check out the testimonials, read the articles etc.
I know all of you guys were hopeful regarding ACV, it did help, but its quite impractical for me to walk around stinking like foot odour all day long lol. But, guys I know how you are all feeling, and it is disappointing to find out it didnt really work, but then again, who knows ACV may work for you as it has for others.
All the best to everyone, and I’ll inform you guys on my Agnijith balm progress on my keloid. BTW I am not advertising their products, I am just helping you guys seek other alternatives. I will get back to you guys within a months time, or even sooner than that!
Deb wrote “…I bought some Apple Cider Vinegar and applied it on my scar at night, reapplying with a cotton bud once dry. I would also dab a bit of cotton wool with ACV and tape it to my scar over night. Some nights I would hold off taping the cotton wool with Apple Cider Vinegar to my arm as it would sometime irritate and sting but I knew the irritation was from the scar being broken down so kept at it. Eventually the ACV broke down the my whole scar, amazingly it never destroyed the healthy skin. This took about 3-4 weeks for the Apple Cider Vinegar to break down the keloid, I now have flat pinky skin surrounded by healthy skin so I have stopped using the Apple Cider Vinegar and I am now using natural oils to promote healthy skin to grow…It took about 4/5 days to notice that the ACV was working. At times it did feel like it was getting worse as the scar would swell and start to pus in different places on the scar but this would eventually scab and fade after bathing…For now I would say that ACV was a God send and I just can’t believe I never knew about this earlier in my life. “
Terri asked, “What do you mean by using caution on pressed garlic or garlic oil? Is some burning ok?”
My advice about using garlic as a home remedy was: “Raw garlic on the skin can be extremely harsh and needs to be monitored carefully. Some mild stinging localized on the keloid is okay and can be expected, but overuse easily injures the surrounding skin and the keloid itself (can lead to bleeding if left on too long, its that powerful).
If you do use garlic, protect the healthy skin around the keloid with a layer of Vaseline or other skin oil. It’s also best to take it very slow in the beginning so you’re able to understand its strength and effects first.”
Terri was fearful of developing keloids following cataract surgery and wanted to know what she could do to minimize the chances of getting one as she is prone to getting them.
My advice to her was, “If you find that you’re prone to getting keloids, your body might be lacking in the mineral iodine. You can check with a very simple patch test – paint a circle of brown iodine over an area of your skin, like your inner arm or stomach. If the color disappears in less than 24 hours (i.e. your skin sucks it up), you’re iodine deficient.
Thus, its a good idea to get your iodine levels to a healthy point again prior to any surgery (or any type of skin injury for that matter) to prevent new keloids from forming. One way to do this is by painting your skin with iodine each day until you find that the color stays on the skin for 24 hours and longer.”
Scott kindly shared his initial experience in using iodine topically and through a supplement. After 1-2 months, his results are very encouraging. He wrote the following:
“Iodine Seems to be Working! Hey everyone, I’ve read every bit of information on this site up and down. I’ve had a keloid scar on my chest for over 2 years, which came from acne (I believe). It started out as a very small bump, but has grown to a nickel sized red lump. It has really driven me crazy, I’m pretty self conscious about it. I promised myself if I ever found something that seemed to be working, I’d post about it here!
I’ve had it injected several times, but It never seemed to do much. I’ve also tried scarguard silicone gel, with little results.
I read about using Iodine, as potassium iodide, and thought I’d give it a try. I purchased a product called Liqui-Dulse. It’s a liquid iodine supplement you’re supposed ingest it by putting it in a glass of water, but I apply it straight to the Keloid topically. It’s key ingredients are Glycerin, Water, Dulse Palmaria Palmala and Potassium Iodide.
I put a few droplets on the keloid, then massage it in for several minutes. Then I put a few more drops on, cover it with a band-aid then go about my day like normal. Two or three times a day, or whenever I think about it, I pull the band-aid back, apply 3-4 more drops, then re-apply the band-aid.
After the past month or so of doing this, for the first time ever I see a difference in my Keloid!
The edges are softening, and diameter is shrinking. The redness is calming down. And one particular section of the Keloid (which gives me the most hope) has almost totally flattened AND new healthy skin appears to have grown over it! This healthy skin patch started out small, but has grown and covered about a 5th of the keloid. It grew to this size in about 2 weeks. The healthy skin seems to be continuing to grow.
Just thought I’d share this!
Also, for about 2 months I’ve been taking a multivitamin that contains 100% daily value of iodine and Vitamin E capsules. It’s hard to say which treatment is helping more… but I can say that the “healthy skin patch” never started growing until I applied the Liqui-Dulse.”
Nowayz‘s question was “does ACV truly helps? why i surf so many webs but none of professionals said dat can use ACV?”.
My response was, “You won’t find home remedies being promoted by pharmaceutical companies even if they work because these natural ingredients cannot be patented. No patent=No massive profits to be made.”
(Nowayz also later reported success in the drying of his keloid.)
Emma wrote, “my keloids are in the chest, and they often itch. My keloids are caused by acne and pressed strongly by the nurse to let the thing in the acne out, but she did not succeed.”
Jules wrote, “My case is very similar to Dina’s – my keloid is on my chest, about 1 and a half centimetres wide and the same in length. It’s a dark pink colour, can get very itchy (especially after I drink) and hurts for no reason. I’ve had it since before 2003. I’m in my early 20s and it’s been a nightmare trying to find clothes that will hide it as nearly everything is v-necked and low-cut!”
Jules also kindly reported back later after using ACV, “I’ve been using ACV about 3 or 4 times a day, and it stings a little sometimes but not as badly as I mentioned before. My scar feels different now, it’s a little softer and I’ve noticed it’s flatter in the mornings (though this might also have been the case before i started using ACV). The big change is that the occasional sharp pains and itching have mainly disappeared, which is fantastic.”
Jules first wrote to ask if keloids can ever fully disappear, “…I am really keen to try the ACV after hearing what people have said. I understand that not everything will work for everyone, but I was wondering how much I can expect the scar to die down? Can it ever fully disappear? “
I responded, “If the remedies work you can expect some flattening and an improvement in the color. The itch should also be gone. However, there might remain scar tissue from the original wound, so that it would resemble a regular hypertrophic (raised) scar.
Jules later came back with an update to say that ACV has helped with her keloid’s pain and itching. She wrote, “I’ve been using ACV about 3 or 4 times a day, and it stings a little sometimes but not as badly as I mentioned before. My scar feels different now, it’s a little softer and I’ve noticed it’s flatter in the mornings (though this might also have been the case before i started using ACV). The big change is that the occasional sharp pains and itching have mainly disappeared, which is fantastic. Let’s hope I will see some change in the appearance as well.”
More on reducing scars (updated April 2011):
I had previously recommended using copper peptide creams to reduce (and possibly remove) leftover scar tissue. However, after using castor oil for several months on some very old and tough scars, I have to say that castor oil appears to work just as well at reducing scars (and maybe even better).
Castor oil is also much cheaper than copper peptide products and is all-natural (no chemicals). I’ve actually managed to remove a deep burn scar using castor oil (before-and-after photos).
jo asked me about copper peptides and how they can reduce scar tissue, when it is stated that they increase collagen formation. This led me to do some research.
I replied: “Hi jo, that’s actually a very good question. I don’t know the mechanics of it well enough to give you a proper explanation, but I think copper peptides may work to replace the excess collagen (type 1 & 3 collagen) in keloids with the healthy type over time.
I also found this in Roenigk & Roenigk’s dermatologic surgery (By Randall K. Roenigk, Henry H. Roenigk), which you might find interesting:
“Excessive collagen deposition is a hallmark of keloids. Keloid scars are composed of both Type I and Type III collagen… The collagen cross-linking in keloidal scars has been shown to be abnormal. This has been postulated to be due to a decrease in lysyl oxidase activity. This enzyme is copper dependent, and keloids have been shown to be copper deficient.
Additionally keloidal collagen is more acid soluble than normal dermal collagen. The collagen found in keloids is less mature and less stable than that found in normal skin.”
I’m not sure if the “copper deficiency” part means anything or is just a coincidence… but regardless, it seems that not all collagen are alike.
The above is just an extract. If you want to read it in fuller detail, there’s a preview of this page in Google Books, page 612. “
Other keloid remedies recommended by commenters
Cutting off the blood circulation to the keloid by tying it off with a string
Read earloid’s comment that first mentioned this method.
Taquaya commented that she tried tying off her keloid with string for 3 days and the results were so painful that she had to go to the emergency department.
She wrote, “I have not so good news. I always knew the string method was painful, but after 3 days of little sleep and excruciating pain, I had to remove the string to see what changes my skin was undergoing. The keloid is very tender and swollen now. In my eyes it looks worse than before.
To top that of, the skin surrounding the keloid was rubbed RAW. It is so painful that my eyes often fill with tears. I’ve been forced to make an emergency appointment with my doctor. Over the counter pain-killers are doing nothing for the pain. I’ve started stressing and losing my appetite because of the agony and discomfort. Even though I was applying Tea Tree oil and Vitamin E oil to the skin, it still got swollen, inflamed, and possibly infected.
My keloid was bothering me before all this, but it is killing me now. All I wanted was to get this thing off. I hope my doctor gives me something to combat infection and something STRONG to ease the pain.
I was a fool to believe that because some people had success using the string method that I too would be able to endure the pain and trauma to the skin. For those who are considering the string method, don’t do it. It is a long painful process. I just took a bad situation and made it 10x worse.”
Claudius had a more positive experience with this method. He said: “Tying a string around the base of the keloid really does work, it is severely painful but effective. I tie it around the keloid on both of my ears in 2 weeks they fell off, & my earlobes r not hard so nothing is growing back. Once I got the keloid on my left ear remove for $600 and it grow back twice the size, becuz my earlobes was hard after they remove it, so it was still there and then I got it on both ears & they wanted $3000 to remove them, so I tie a string around the keloid and bear with the pain for 2 week. It is worth the pain not $3000 the string cutts into the keloid & it bleeds a little so don’t be scared just try it, it worked 4 me.”
‘hold in there’ warned that while this method was painful, it eventually caused his keloid to dry and fall off.
He said: “I have had a keloid for 6 years. I had surgery to remove it 3 years ago and continued with the cortizone shots-both were painful. It grew back and continued to grow.
I decided to use the string method. Now the string method was not pretty and it did take a month to complete the process. It took longer because to avoid infection, I retied and applied cortizone every night. Yes, sometimes when the string is tied it can be painful, but eventually the keloid started drying and fell off. It has only been a few weeks and I am currently monitoring the progress. I can say that during my last doctor visit he pretty much left me with no other recourse.
P.S. I have tried the ACV method with no results. Will keep you up to date.”
In 2010, Destyni successfully removed a keloid on her right ear after six weeks. One year later, she returned to report her success with removing the remaining keloid on her left ear (scroll down to read all her comments in chronological order).
On 12 May 2010, she commented: “my right keloid is GONE! It took 6 weeks. 3 days ago it turned extremely black and hard and was hanging by a thin layer of “ear meat” i cut it with scissors. I didnt even feel a pinch. 1 keloid down.. 1 to go!!”
On 18 June 2010, she kindly shared some before-and-after pictures of her keloid after using the string method.
“i cant believe its actually gone. there is a rash on my neck from all the dried up blood that accumulated every night while sleep. anyway.”
Throughout her journey, she gave some helpful progressive updates as well.
11 April 2010
i have a keloid on each of my ears. Very big and ugly.
I am currently on day 6 of the string method. Let me first say IT HURTS LIKE HELL. its very hard to sleep and i get headaches frequently. i have changed the string once. i noticed 2 days ago the keloid is starting to detach itself from my ear. so i cleaned the open area with mild soap and warm water and tied another string which was the worst pain ive yet to experience. I have had these keloids for about 6 years. I am tired of having to wear long hair to cover them. im hoping that by summer, they will be long gone and i can wear my hair in a pony tail. I will keep updating and possibly providing before and AFTER photos.
oh and let me add, my keloids are starting to leak and i have minimal bleeding and the leakage has an awful smell. But if this works, it will all be worth it
15 April 2010
Day 10 of stringing my keloids. the one on my right ear is literally hanging by just a few strands, its also turning black. It could fall off at any minute. i want to re-string it but it is so painful and tender. the left one is still loosening but slower than the right. Either way neither of them are really attached to my ear much. The process i say is about 85% complete. i give “tying a string around the keloid” an A. and once they fall off it gets an A+. I am SO happy i found this site.
In 2011, Destyni came back to share her success with removing the remaining keloid on her left ear. This time, instead of taking six weeks, the process took only 5 days, which she attributes to her use of a rubber band instead of string.
8 April 2011
Hi guys! Last year i had great success on one of my keloids with the string method. Thank you to the owner of this site for putting my progress on the main page. Hope it helped someone.
I was stringing both of my keloids on each ear at the same time last year, but that pain was just too unbearable on BOTH sides of my head. So i worked with the right keloid and got that off. Havent gotten around to the left one until now. This time i am using the rubberband method and i will say it is ALOT faster than the string. The first day hurt ALOT more with the band vs the string but the rubberband is killing the keloid so much faster. I am currently on day 4 and this lil creature is already almost dead. I will share pictures from beginning to end.
Here are days 1-4
Get’s a little graphic on day 4.
9 April 2011
Here we are.. barely day 5 and I AM KELOID FREE!!!
Its 4:21am. I was just about to clean my keloid and change the rubberband, but as i took the band off i noticed the keloid was just hanging there so i cut the little piece of skin which didnt hurt AT ALL because it was dead. I have photos. Which are VERY graphic i took them immediately after i cut the keloid. I cant believe this thing was on my EAR! yucky. Any questions, id be glad to help.
Thank you Destyni for sharing so much of your experience. I’m sure it will help many others.
Destyni also has a YouTube channel called “destynihoney”, which chronicles her journey to being keloid-free.
khosbhoo used this gel for her burns. She wrote, “initially I applied contratubex gel (from Germany). it has decreased a lot. I mean 90% has gone (this medicine is a miracle) but I had to massage it regularly.”
Sarah noticed that her keloids improved following a change in her diet. She wrote, “Over the last few months i have been drinking 3-4 cups of green tea with lemon, pomegranates (read the health benefits in Wikipedia) and increased the amount of fruit and vegetables I usually consume. from all these things I have noticed a big difference in the size of them and some even appear lighter. I do understand everyone is different but you never actually know this could work for you.
Sarah later came back with an update about her progress and also about her diet, “Hey guys its me again…so I’ve been away for a few months, but thought i should just comment on the progress of my situation with keloid scars..as i mentioned previously, green tea with lemon has seemed to work for me. I have recently included the following fruits and vegetables in my diet; tomatoes (plum and cherry in particular), avocado, bell peppers and sweet potatoes…and not only do i feel a lot better but my keloids have definitely minimized in size.”
Thanks for sharing, Sarah! If anyone else has had improvements to their keloids following a change in diet, please do share.
carolyn wrote, “I noticed that whenever I eat sugary foods, it grows or itches more. I just noticed this the other day and I wanted to see if foods or drinks can affect them or make them worse.”
rizwan wrote how red meat makes his keloids itch more, “I have keloid scars for about 15 years now… only thing i can recommend that try to eat more veg and fruits and don’t eat red meat coz when i eat red meat my keloid scars itches more .”
Jules wrote that her keloid itches more after drinking (alcoholic beverages), “My keloid is on my chest, about 1 and a half centimetres wide and the same in length. It’s a dark pink colour, can get very itchy (especially after I drink) and hurts for no reason.”
Anonymous wrote that white pepper causes his keloids to become very itchy. He also noted that his keloids grows/shrinks with his weight.
Irene’s father had a keloid that was infected with pus that wasn’t helped by steroid injections or antibiotics. She wrote how using Silicea helped:
“My father has a long keloid across his chest. For several years, it got infected with lots of pus. Steroid injections and antibiotics didn’t help. I put him on the biochemical tissue salts called Silicea for a few months. This prompted the keloid to discharge pus from several holes for a few weeks which was quite scary. After all this drained out, the problem has not occurred again, and the keloid has flattened out. Hope this will help somebody.”
Anonymous reported that his keloids “flattened and are less visible” with Kenalog injections and Cica Care gel sheets.
Nancy wrote that castor oil (Wikipedia link) made a difference to her keloid, which formed from a chicken pox scar.
She said, “I have since then tried castor oil after reading up on the web. It seems to have made a difference.”
Castor oil has many amazing healing properties which is perhaps helped by its ability to deeply penetrate skin and tissue. My research into castor oil has revealed many benefits of using castor oil, including its ability to break down scar tissue over time, which may make it helpful for keloids and internal surgical scarring.
You can read more about castor oil in these articles:
- a good introduction on castor oil
- using castor oil for scars
- and from my own experience, I’ve healed a deep burn scar using castor oil (see before-and-after-photos)
Anna tried ACV but had better luck using tea tree oil on her keloids, which are a few years old.
She says, “…slowly but surely stuff is happening, it’s peeling off, the keloid cells are dying, and eventually it should fall off…”
Iceni wrote that silver nitrate prescribed by a doctor is helping an infection and keloid on his little toe dry up. Iceni wrote, “Apparently this was a common anti- biotic way back to Egyptian times until after the first World War.But it came into disuse with the advent of modern antibiotics. I believe its efficacy is being studied again for use in humans. It is non toxic and apparently bacteria do not become resistant to it. Hope this helps someone.”
Tip #1 – Cover small wounds for a few days
Anonymous advised, “The most important is once when you have any very small wounds, you have to put plastic bandages on it immediately for few days”
Tip #2 – Press down on newly-forming keloids
Rachel said, “I have a few keloids on my shoulder and have started getting a few on my chest, but right when i saw them forming, I applied pressure and pushed down on them and they are gone! It hurt like hell, but nothing on my chest! However, i still have the ones on my shoulders. =/ I really wish they would find a cure or solution that is definite! It is really is embarrassing! So next time you see one starting to come in, press down continually, and it will eventually fade. I had read online a while back that it worked for someone so i tried it and it did! Hope this helps!”
Tip #3 – Keloid formation is linked to iodine deficiency. Read about iodine and how it can help.
Anna kindly shared some advice from her dermatologist for those considering surgery to remove their keloids: if the surgeries are on problem areas that are susceptible to keloid formation, then the surgical incisions should be closed with a laser rather than traditional stitches as these could lead to stretching and further irritation, making post-op keloid formation on the surgical scar more likely.
Poll (closed in June 2013)
Terry suggested that a poll could be helpful in finding out the most effective method to treat keloids. I thought this was a great idea.