It’s easy to get hypertrophic scars and keloids confused, but they’re two different things. It’s important to know the differences between these two types of scars so that if you develop a growth around a new piercing, you can identify it and treat it effectively.
What is a keloid?
A keloid is a nodular, smooth-surfaced growth that can form around piercings, scars, and various other minor skin traumas; they’re typically darker than the skin around them. Some people get them, but most don’t. The reaction tends to be genetic and can develop for up to a month or more after a piercing or other skin trauma occurs.
The good thing is that keloids aren’t malignant and they typically don’t hurt. They’re just unsightly, and they might be itchy and a bit tender. Keloids can form nearly anywhere on the body, so they can cause additional problems depending on the location of a piercing. For example, a keloid that develops around a tongue piercing could make it hard to eat and talk.
Keloids typically require medical attention to remove or minimize. Here are some of the professional treatment options:
- Corticosteroid injections
- Laser treatments
- Surgical removal
What is a hypertrophic scar?
A hypertrophic scar can form around a healing wound or piercing just like a keloid, but they don’t often grow past a piercing like keloids do — they’re usually flat and pale. If there is a lot of tension on a hypertrophic scar, it can become even harder to the touch.
Hypertrophic scars are typically a temporary reaction to a piercing that will go away with proper care and time. Sometimes the solution in treating hypertrophic scars is as easy as following these simple tips:
- Change your jewelry to relieve pressure on the piercing
- Cleanse the piercing with an aftercare spray or homemade sea salt solution with or without tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic & moisturizer)
- Apply collagen-reducing steroid creams (or as an injection by a professional, if needed)
If the bump around your piercing hurts or oozes pus and/or blood, you more than likely have an infection and may need an antibiotic in addition to several sea salt solution applications a day.
In any case, you should consult your piercer or doctor to find out definitively which condition you have and make sure you get the proper treatment.