Keloid on Ear – Symptoms, Causes, and Management

The buildup of excessive scar tissue at the site of skin puncture or wound is known as a keloid. The scar tissue infiltrates the surrounding tissue and is larger than the wound itself. These are very common after an ear piercing and may vary in size, color, and location.

Symptoms of an ear keloid

The symptoms include:

  • Visible deformity of the ear structure
  • Pain in ear
  • Itching and redness
  • Tender to touch
  • Darkening of color with time
  • Slow growth may take up to 3 months
  • Hypervascularity

Causes of an ear keloid

Keloids form as a response to injury to the skin such as ear piercing, surgical scar, or trauma. The body makes scar tissue to heal the wound, but in some cases, too much scar tissue is made that begins to extend out of the edges of the wound. The deposition of type 1 and type 3 hypocellular collagen fibers with excessive myofibroblasts results in the formation of a keloid scar. An increase in ph of the skin also promotes keloid formation.

Keloid and hypertrophic scar

A keloid is invasive to the surrounding structures, is hyper vascularized, has a vertical growth pattern. It feels hard to touch and is immobile.

A hypertrophic scar grows within the limits of the wound, has a lower rate of recurrence. Can be treated easily and often develop after a burn injury.

keloid and hypertrophic scar

Risk factors

Risk factors for ear keloid include:

  • Injury to the skin
  • Ear piercing
  • Tattoos
  • Chickenpox
  • Acne
  • Insect bite
  • surgical scar
  • Excessive production of fibroblasts
  • Changes in hormonal balance
  • People with darker skin tones
  • People under the age of 30 years

Complications of an ear keloid

Keloids themselves are a complication of an ear-piercing or any other injury. However, sometimes they can further cause complications such as:

  • Cosmetically displeasing
  • Blockage of the ear canal
  • Temporary deafness


Keloids can be prevented by taking a few steps. some of the preventive measures are:

  • Wear a pressure earring for some time after getting a piercing
  • Use a silicone patch or gel after a piercing
  • If you’ve had an ear keloid in past, avoid getting another piercing
  • If you tend to get keloids, inform your surgeon before getting any surgical procedure done
  • Take good care of a new piercing, keep the wound clean
  • Consult a dermatologist for your problem

Management of an ear keloid

Keloids are hard to treat. Even if they are successfully removed, their chances of recurrence are high. However, some of the treatment options are:

Medical treatment

  • Corticosteroids are injected into the keloid to shrink it in size and make it softer.
  • Retinoids are used for the same purpose, they are also known to lighten the color.
  • Cryotherapy involves, freezing the keloid, is done using liquid nitrogen, and has a low recurrence rate. It is usually paired with a steroid injection.
  • Laser treatments can also be employed to shrink the keloid and lighten its color.

Surgical treatment

  • Ligatures are tied onto the larger keloids. The ligature cuts into the tissue, causing it to fall off eventually. But this option has very low compliance as ligature has to be tightened and reapplied every 2,3 weeks.
  • Surgical excision of the keloid is done using a scalpel. One drawback of this method is the formation of a new scar that is very likely to develop another keloid. Thus, it is paired with other options like a steroid injection or radiotherapy.

Home remedies

There are no proven home remedies to get rid of a keloid. However, some of the options that may reduce the risk are:

  • Onion extract can decrease the symptoms caused by keloid
  • Use of pressure earrings can prevent the keloid to grow larger in size

When to consult a doctor?

If your scar keeps on growing in size or the pain becomes unbearable, consult a doctor immediately.


Does ear keloid go away?

Yes, they are difficult to treat but not impossible. Several methods including radiotherapy, cryotherapy, surgical excision, and ligation can be done to treat a keloid.

Can you pop an ear keloid?

Keloid is formed of fibrous tissue and is hard to touch. Thus, it cannot be popped. Surgical excision is done to get rid of a keloid.

What causes ear keloids?

Keloids can be caused due to a number of factors including increased production of fibroblasts and myoblasts, hormonal fluctuations, high ph, and genetic tendencies.

Last medically reviewed on October 31, 2021.