A new drug in clinical trials is showing promise in treating keloid scar formation. The drug is currently available in some countries as a treatment for high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and chest pain, because it widens blood vessels. The drug is incredibly cheap, which works in its favour, though its efficacy as a keloid scar modifier at Melbourne dermatologist clinics is yet to be established.
(Please note that we do not offer this drug at our Melbourne dermatologist ENRICH Clinic because it is still undergoing clinical trials.)
The drug is being researched further in Australia to see if it could be used to help prevent the large, lumpy, raised red scars known as keloid scars. Keloid scars can continue to grow, despite the initial damage to skin being well healed. The initial wound may have been very minor, like a small scratch or injection, with the keloid scar result being far beyond a normal scar.
Keloid scar development can be incredibly upsetting to the person affected, since the keloid scar could appear anywhere, including the chest and face. For example, a common area for keloid scar development is at the site of pierced ears. Keloid scars can become itchy or painful, and effective treatments for dermatologists have been elusive with a chequered success rate.
How the drug works
The drug triggers the production of a protein called decorin, which plays an important role in collagen production. Collagen gives skin its elasticity, and is part of scar formation at the site of a wound. A lack of organised collagen may contribute to the development of a keloid scar.
Australian study on burns victims
The University of Western Australia is studying keloid scar development with the drug in 30 burns victims. The trial involves the surgical removal of the keloid scars, with regular injections of the drug into the scars to see how well it can halt keloid scar tissue development.
The drug used is a common drug that is well studied for other conditions, which has no serious side-effects and is considered safe.
Dermatological treatments for keloid scars currently include:
- First, avoid breaking the skin – prevention is important.
- Silicone dressings – possibly increase collagenase activity and providing pressure on the scars. Can be quite useful.
- Compression garments – some keloids respond really well to pressure, and these garments may need to be worn all the time for a while, including during sleep.
- A Melbourne dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroid treatments, along with other strategies, using injections into the scars.
- Surgical removal – new keloids can be avoided in some people after surgery, which is often quite effective.
- Radiation therapy – your Melbourne dermatologist is unlikely to prescribe radiation therapy for your keloids, since the treatment is not very effective.
- Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) – freezing off the keloid scars has had a reasonable success rate and may be prescribed by your Melbourne dermatologist, because recurrence rates of keloid scars are low. This can be done in clinic.
- Laser treatments are unlikely to be prescribed by your Melbourne dermatologist, but have been trialled. The laser used matters. Recurrence rates were high with lasers.
- Interferon – interferon treatments have been somewhat successful.
- Cancer treatment injections – these are quite painful but the results can be good.
- Other options as new research emerges.
Speak to your Melbourne dermatologist for information on how they treat keloid scarring.
We can help you with your keloid scars.