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Tattoos & Keloids: Cover-Ups, Causes & More
You may have heard that tattoos can cause keloid scars, but what is a keloid scar and how likely are you to get one from getting a tattoo?
Can Tattoos Cause Keloid?
You’re excited to get your very first tattoo. You’ve spent months picking out the perfect design, and you can’t wait to finally get inked.
But then someone tells you that tattoos can cause keloids.
But what are keloids, and how likely are you to get them? Are you more prone to developing keloids if you have a tattoo?
Here’s what you should know.
What Is a Keloid?
A keloid is an overgrowth of scar tissue that can occur after a skin injury, such as a cut, piercing, burn, or insect bite. It can also develop after surgery or due to a skin condition, such as acne.
Keloids can occur anywhere on the body, but they’re most common on the chest, shoulders, and upper back.
Keloids are not cancerous and don’t pose a risk to your health. However, they can be unsightly and bothersome.
They are raised and usually dome-shaped, usually firm to touch, and can be itchy, tender, or painful.
Keloids can also affect your appearance and cause embarrassment. In some cases, they can hinder movement if they occur on joints and are big enough.
What Causes Keloids?
The exact cause of keloids is unknown, but they’re thought to result from an overproduction of a protein called collagen. Collagen is a key component of scar tissue.
Here are other possible risk factors:
- Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome
- Goeminne syndrome
- Hormonal surges (puberty and pregnancy)
- Asian, African, or Hispanic descent
How To Know If Your Tattoo Will Keloid?
If you have a family history of keloids, you are more likely to develop one after getting a tattoo. Other risk factors for developing a keloid include having darker skin, being younger (30 years old below), and being pregnant (due to hormonal changes).
Open wounds, including burns, chickenpox scars, and piercing, can also lead to the formation of keloids.
And since tattoos are essentially open wounds, there is a chance that you may develop a keloid at the tattoo site.
Can Keloid-Prone People Get a Tattoo?
If you have a family history of keloids or developed them in the past, you may wonder if it’s safe for you to get a tattoo. The short answer is yes—but there are some things you should keep in mind.
First, it’s crucial to choose a licensed and reputable tattoo artist. A good artist will take measures to avoid causing keloids, such as using sterile needles and avoiding areas of the body that are known to be prone to keloids.
You should also let your artist know if you have a history of keloids. They can take precautions such as using a lighter hand or avoiding areas of the body that are more likely to develop them.
What Happens If You Tattoo Over a Keloid?
In some cases, it’s possible to cover a keloid scar with a tattoo. It’s a good option if the keloid is small and in an area that can be easily covered by clothing.
It’s important to note that there’s a risk the tattoo could cause the keloid to grow larger, so this isn’t a decision to be made lightly. You should discuss it with your dermatologist to see if it’s a good option.
Also, you need to make sure that your tattoo artist is an expert in covering keloid scars to avoid further damage to the area.
What To Do If A Keloid Forms Over/On A New Tattoo?
If you develop a keloid after getting a tattoo, it’s important to see your dermatologist as soon as possible.
They can prescribe treatments that may help shrink the keloid or prevent it from growing larger.
You may also use silicone products to reduce the overproduction of collagen or pressure garments to apply force and prevent your skin from thickening.
Is There a Way To Prevent Keloids?
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent keloids. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Choose a reputable and licensed tattoo artist.
- Avoid areas of the body that are known to be prone to keloids.
- Tell your artist if you have a history of keloids.
- Cover your new tattoo with clothing or a bandage.
- Avoid UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
Are There Possible Ways To Remove Keloids?
There are a few different options for removing keloids:
These are corticosteroid injections that can help shrink the keloid.
This treatment process involves using a laser to destroy the extra collagen in the keloid.
Some keloids are more extensive, requiring surgery to remove them.
This is often performed after surgery to help prevent the keloid from coming back.
This involves freezing the keloid tissues with liquid nitrogen to reduce their size.
Can topical Creams Remove Keloids?
There’s no proven study that topical creams can help remove or reduce the size of keloids.
However, some people may find that they help soothe the itchiness and irritation often associated with keloids.
If you’re interested in trying a topical cream, look for one that contains silicone. This ingredient is often used in products designed to treat scars. You can find over-the-counter topical creams with silicone at most drugstores.
Suppose you’re considering using a topical cream. In that case, it’s essential to speak with your dermatologist first, as some contain ingredients that could further irritate the skin.
If you have to remove a keloid, there’s a chance that it could affect your tattoo. Your tattoo ink will blur or fade, and the colours may not be as vibrant as they were before.
Will Keloids Grow Back?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that a keloid won’t come back after being removed. Most keloids grow back after 4 to 6 years, even after treatment.
If you know that you’re prone to keloids or have a history of them, it’s important to take precautions when getting a tattoo. Be sure to choose a reputable and licensed artist, avoid areas of the body that are known to be prone to keloids, and tell your artist about your history.
If you do develop a keloid after getting a tattoo, it’s important to see your dermatologist as soon as possible. A few different treatment options are available such as:
- steroid injections
- laser therapy
- and topical creams to help shrink the keloid or prevent it from growing larger.
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent keloids, and there’s always a chance they’ll come back even after treatment.