Keloids: What It Really Means If You Have A Hard, Fleshy Bump On Your Ear Piercing

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

When I was young, I always thought piercings were so cool.

Like this grandma who got her nose pierced, I found piercings fascinating.

I was jealous when my cousin got her cartilage pierced, but when I saw her a few months after she got her piercing, there was no more earring in her ear — instead, there was a fleshy bump.

In the exact place where her piercing had been, she now had a pea-sized lump of skin.

It turns out that this seemingly-unexplained bump was actually a keloid. A keloid is a lump of excess skin that occurs when there is a buildup of scar tissue. Usually they form at the site of small wounds or piercings.

Unfortunately, keloids are pretty common — and people who have keloids might have more than one of them.

To learn more about these fleshy bumps, how they form, and how you can prevent and treat them, read below.

Thumbnail Photo: Wikimedia / Htirgan

What Are Keloids?

what are keloids
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According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “A keloid is a growth of extra scar tissue. It occurs where the skin has healed after an injury.”

People under age 30 are most susceptible to keloids. Keloids are also known to run in families.

Although keloids are a type of scar, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains that keloids are different then other scars because they grow much larger than the wound itself.

How Do You Get Keloids?

keloids causes
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Keloids most often occur after skin injuries, such as acne, burns, chickenpox, vaccination sites, minor scratches, ear or body piercings, or cuts from trauma or surgery.

According to the AAD, in rare cases, keloids can form when there is no skin injury at all — these are called “spontaneous keloids.”

Typically, keloids are skin-colored, red, or pink and are located over the injury site. They can be ridged or lumpy, and they may be tender, itchy, or irritated.

How To Get Rid Of Keloids
Remedy #1: Apple Cider Vinegar

keloids acv
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Often, keloids don’t need to be treated at all, but if they bother you, there are home remedies and medical procedures that are available to treat keloids.

One home remedy that some people swear by is using apple cider vinegar to reduce the size of the keloid. To do this, apply apple cider vinegar to the keloid in the evening, then go to sleep — the keloid may begin to shrink.

Remedy #2: Over-The-Counter Products

keloids medication
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To reduce the size of keloids, some people choose to turn to over-the-counter products.

Many scar creams and lotions are created with both scars and keloids in mind, so they may be effective in reducing the visibility of keloids.

Remedy #3: Prescription From A Doctor

keloids prescription
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If you think you have a keloid, the best thing to do is to go to your doctor — they can test the area to see if it is actually a keloid, and then they can recommend a treatment plan.

In certain cases, family doctors or dermatologists may prescribe medication for keloids.

Remedy #4: Surgery

keloids surgery
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Sometimes, doctors will recommend an in-office procedure to get rid of your keloids.

One option is corticosteroid injections, another option is cryotherapy (freezing), and yet another option is laser treatment.

Your doctor may also recommend surgical removal of the keloid — unfortunately, the scar from this surgery can cause keloids to grow even larger if you’re especially prone to them.

How To Prevent Keloids
Prevention Method #1: Take Care Of Cuts And Piercings

prevent keloids
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The best way to get rid of keloids is to never get them in the first place. In order to do that, you need to focus on prevention.

Some people are more prone to keloids than others, but even if you have keloid-prone skin, there are things you can do to prevent these scars.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent keloids is to take proper care of piercings and cuts.

If you get a piercing or cut, wash the area immediately with soap and water, and gently cleanse the wound until it heals. Don’t use any products that are too drying, like rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

After that, the AAD recommends you bandage the area with sterile petrolatum gauze to keep the area moist. Keep the area protected from the sun by using clothing and bandages to cover the area, or by using sunscreen (only after the wound heals).

Prevention Method #2: Talk To A Doctor Right Away About Worrying Symptoms

keloid doctor
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If you notice the skin around a wound site, piercing, or tattoo thickening, you should talk to a doctor right away.

The earlier you talk to your doctor about your forming keloid, the earlier they can fit you with a pressure garment or pressure piercing — these can reduce the size of the forming keloids.

Prevention Method #3: Nip Pimples And Sores In The Bud

keloids pimples sores
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When pimples and sores appear, they can eventually turn into scarring, which can turn into keloids.

If you notice a pimple or sore, don’t pick at it, but be gentle with your skin and keep the areas clean. Visit your doctor if you’re worried that a sore or pimple might lead to a keloid.

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