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.
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