The Skin I’m In:My Experiences With Keloid Scars

I hope this post helps anyone going through similar circumstances. I have a skin condition that has caused so much chaos in my life. I have keloids. According to one medical site, keloids are defined as “an area of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar or injury.” The definitions of keloids rarely- if ever, give the full story of the condition. Did you know that some people with keloids produce more histamine than non scarred people? There’s so much more to keloids, unfortunately. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert. I’ve had keloids for over twenty-two years and counting.

I have keloids on my neck, jawline, back, shoulders, chest, and on the back of my thighs. As far as how many I have… I grew tired of counting after reaching a hundred. My first keloid formed on my chest in 94 when I was thirteen. It popped up on my chest without me ever being injured in that area. I thought it was a mosquito bite or something. About ninety-nine percent of my keloids are ones that just came out of nowhere; only one percent of my keloid formation was due to surgeries. During my teen years I received cortisone injections, but they never proved to be helpful. I just couldn’t deal with the injections anymore after a year.

Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two more keloids formed. I started developing keloids on the jawline of my face; which was always my biggest fear. I’ve always worked retail gigs, so being in the public eye with visible keloids chipped away at my self-esteem. Around this time I noticed that my keloids began to get infected. Sometimes I had to miss work because of the infections, which were- and are, a real bitch to deal with.

I also started noticing that my keloids would get infected during any hormonal changes in my body(ovulation, menstrual cycle for example). I believe my keloid growth has to do with my hormones. This theory was frowned upon by a few Dermatologists at first, but now they’re singing my tune. Dermatologists and Endocrinologists both agree with my theory, but they still have been unable to help me. I should say here how important it is for keloid sufferers to be educated about the condition. My prayer is that one day I’ll meet a Doctor who will be able to treat me successfully. And so my search continues…

In September of 2011 half of the keloid on my jawline was extracted; followed by the extraction of the other half in June of 2012. In October of 2011 I had surgery for a skin graft of my right thigh, to replace the skin that was lost on the right side of my jawline. The skin graft site eventually turned into a keloid, but that wasn’t a surprise. The extraction procedure was risky, but I was told with radiation treatments that the keloids would unlikely reform. I was so incredibly happy! I felt liberated and made all kinds of plans; I planned to take pictures with my hair in a cute up-do hairstyle. This may sound trivial to some, but my ladies with keloids will get where I’m coming from. Unfortunately, within two to three years the keloids on my jawline grew back. I never did get the radiation treatments because Medicaid didn’t approve it.

Yep, I’m on Medicaid. Because of my keloids I’ve been on social security disability for almost five years now. I’m going to do a post about that entire process soon, trust me it wasn’t easy. I’m thankful for every single penny I get, but I don’t receive enough funds to live alone. Living with your mom at my age is a unique type of prison sentence. I’ll share about how real that struggle is in a future blog post. Lol.

That’s my history with keloids so far. Now, I’ll go into how they affect my daily life.

Chronic Pain/Discomfort: With keloids there’s constant itching no matter the season. I itch when it’s hot and when it’s cold. There’s also nerve damage in the skin with keloids. The sensation feels like each keloid is being stabbed with a needle, constantly. I take Benadryl and use coconut oil for the itching. And my doctor prescribed a medication for the nerve pain, so far it’s really helping. Praise God for that miracle. 🙂 My keloids are so massive on my chest that walking upright has now become a challenge. I have to force myself to walk straight when I’m in public. I deal with chronic infections and the pain is excruciating. An infected keloid is a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Dealing with several infected keloids leaves me bed bound most times. I’m a writer trying to become a published author, and there’s a keloid on my right shoulder that gives me the blues when it’s infected. Not only can I not write, but dressing, doing my hair, or any activity using my right arm is beyond difficult.

Sleeping: Sleep doesn’t always come easy for me anymore. Some nights I’m able to get comfortable enough to sleep, other days not so much. And folks wonder why I can be moody.

Clothes/Shopping: I haven’t been able to wear a low cut top since I was thirteen. I’m forced to wear something underneath all my tops; which is uncomfortable with all the extra material. Shopping used to be fun, but now I really don’t enjoy it. God blessed me with this awesome rack, and I’m unable to show cleavage! I mean damn! 😀 Seriously though, I feel like a granny with having to be fully covered.

Isolation: Having keloids makes you feel so alone. No one can understand living with keloids unless they have them. Thank God for the KeloidScars support group on Facebook. I don’t feel as isolated as I used to. The members are so kind and supportive. I encourage anyone dealing with keloids to join this group.

Stares/Negative Attention: I wear my hair down to cover the keloids on my face. The only folks who see the keloids on my body are medical personnel. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being looked at; the experience is always awkward as hell.

I know I didn’t cover everything with this post, which is why I will be doing plenty more posts about keloids. I do want to mention that the only thing that keeps me going is my faith. If I didn’t have God then I wouldn’t be here to write/type this out. I can’t lie though, sometimes I’m overwhelmed by my keloids. I was recently diagnosed with having mild depression, and I know my keloids have something to do with that. But, deep within me is this warrior and she’s a fighter. She, I mean I have so much hope, and optimism about my condition. I along with many others, will be included in that first group of keloid sufferers who will receive total victory, and healing over this condition.

Cheers, homies!

I would like to dedicate this post to my loved ones who deal with me. And to my peeps in the Keloid Scars group.