What is a navel keloid?

A navel keloid can appear as a thick, raised scar after a navel piercing or injury. These unsightly bumps usually look shiny, range in color from pink to purple, and tend to migrate from the piercing site to nearby healthy skin. A keloid of the navel can increase in size over time, with common itching and discomfort symptoms. Various treatment options can reduce the size and color of a navel keloid, but they usually fail to completely remove the scar tissue.

Doctors aren't sure why keloids form in some people but not in others. Patients who have developed these types of scars in the past face higher risks of developing another keloid. The condition can run in families, and more women tend to get a navel keloid, but the scarring may be related to more navel piercings by women. People with dark skin may also develop these scars more often. There is no way to predict in advance whether a keloid might develop in the navel after navel surgery or piercing.

Scars form on the skin after injury or surgical procedures. Normal scars tend to lighten and become less noticeable as the wound heals. Keloids differ in that they often extend into adjacent skin and commonly grow larger. The risk of keloids after navel piercing increases when wearing heavy jewelry, in obese patients, and in women in late pregnancy, when the skin is stretched.

Curved barbell navel jewelry could decrease the chance of a keloid developing while the site heals, which could take up to a year. These types of scars can also appear on the earlobes, face, or any pierced area of ​​the body. A keloid can also form from severe acne, burns, or other injuries to the surface of the skin.

Various treatment options can reduce the appearance of a navel keloid, usually by flattening the surface and reducing discoloration. Cortisone injections can help, but in some cases the scars darken. Laser treatment can address the increased redness, but some dark areas usually remain. Multiple laser sessions may be needed to treat the condition.

Some doctors consider surgery to remove a keloid from the navel to be risky because additional scars may develop after one is removed, and new scars larger than the original keloid may appear. Some patients opt for a combination of surgery, steroid injections, and radiation to treat these defects. Others choose interferon injections or chemotherapy as treatment options. Interferon, which represents a substance produced by the body's immune system, might decrease the size of a scar.

Freezing a navel keloid with liquid nitrogen might also work. A scar treated with this method usually becomes flatter but darker in color. Silicone gel sheets that compress the navel can take months to reduce the appearance of scarring, with variable results.

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