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Why does my scar itch?

Dr Mark Porter / 04 September 2017

Dr Mark Porter advises a reader with an itchy, red scar what can be done about it.

A reader's shoulder surgery has resulted in an itchy scar.
A reader's shoulder surgery has resulted in an itchy scar.

Q: I broke my shoulder two years ago and had surgery to fix it. The resulting three-inch scar soon became red, thickened and itchy, and I’m told it is ‘keloid’. Is there anything I can do about it? I am fair skinned and never had a problem before.

A:True keloid scars tend to occur in people with dark skin (around 10% of Africans undergoing surgery) and are unusual in Caucasians. This, plus the fact that yours is red and itchy, makes a hypertrophic scar more likely. Like keloid, hypertrophic scarring is caused by over-exuberant wound healing but tends to be easier to treat. Indeed it sometimes even regresses spontaneously.

The simplest way to deal with a persistent hypertrophic scar is to cut it out and re-suture the wound, using special occlusive (silicone) dressings to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. This is unlikely to work with keloids, which have a habit of coming back even bigger.

Other options include injecting the wound with steroids and cryo (freezing) or laser therapy, but results are mixed. A dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon will be able to advise what the best option is in your case, but you will probably have to consult them privately.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.