A keloid is a buildup of scar tissue that develops to protect a wound. In the case of keloids in the ear, or auricular keloids, a person most often has pierced his or her ear and scar tissue grows as the body's attempt to repair the wound. While keloids can take on several different appearances, for the most part, the keloid resembles a large, round, red or flesh-colored ball on the earlobe.
First Line of Defense
Treatment methods for keloids most often depend on the size of the keloid itself. It is best to treat an auricular keloid when it is at its earliest, and therefore smallest, stages before the scar tissue continues to develop.
One of the first methods a physician might suggest is the injection of steroid into the keloid itself. This method has a high success rate and can be given in a series of injections for best results, according to a study published in the Ear, Nose, and Throat Journal. The steroid (a common one used is triamcinolone) aims to reduce inflammation, break up the scar tissue and prevent future scar tissue from forming.
While the steroid injection is helpful in preventing further keloid growth, the injection may not change the appearance of the existing keloid. For those who find the keloid's appearance undesirable, surgical removal is possible. There are a number of approaches that can be used, including a standard scalpel excision or even a laser incision.
When used as the sole treatment for keloids, surgical removal is not considered very effective. According to the Ear, Nose, and Throat Journal study, more than 80 percent of keloids treated solely with surgical removal will come back. However, when other methods, including steroid injections and pressure on the keloid (detailed in the next step) are used, there is greater success.
Pressure to Break Up the Keloid
Compression therapy for the earlobe is an effective method in treating the keloid and reducing its size. Pressure placed on the skin's capillaries helps to soften the keloid and flatten the collagen bundles that can build up on the ear. Forms of pressure can be as simple as wearing a clip-on earring to wearing a medical compression device, known as a Zimmer splint, which has two discs that clip on the ear, placing even pressure on the front and back of the ear. This device also closely resembles an earring, and should be worn for a few hours a day for best results. Those with auricular keloids saw a 50 percent or greater reduction in keloid size after using compression therapy for a year, according to a study published in JPRAS, a journal of plastic surgeons.
Pressure therapies can often be used along with injections or removal to see long-term results in the reduction of auricular keloids.