Keloids are among the most conspicuous types of scars thanks to their raised appearance. They're also one of the more challenging types of scars to minimize, since cortisone injections or laser treatments are usually required to make even a small difference in their size and color. A recent Instagram post on Girl Gaze, however, may inspire those who have keloids to embrace and even celebrate their scars instead of trying to hide or treat them.
The reposted image, taken by photographer Sophie Mayanne for her #BehindTheScars project, shows a 24-year-old woman with the Instagram handle @biancahoneybeex. In it, she looks over her shoulder, her braids flying around her head to reveal a patch of keloids on her back.
The photo alone is enough to make anyone see keloid scars in a new light, and the caption—a quote from the subject, Bianca—is a powerful motivator for anyone who's ever struggled to accept part of their physical appearance.
"My keloid scars developed after I had severe acne on my face, back and chest. I was prescribed tablets to clear the acne but unfortunately they turned some acne spots into keloids," the caption reads, explaining that Bianca has tried injections and surgery to flatten the ones on her face, even though there's a risk of these itchy, uncomfortable scars growing back. "They've stopped me from living my life, wearing certain clothing, and caused anxiety and depression. Sometimes people don't realise how scars/skin [conditions] can ruin an individual's mental health."
Keloids are essentially an overgrowth of scar tissue and can form after basically any trauma to the skin, including acne, piercings, or cuts.
They're more common among people of color and those under 30, and they most frequently affect the shoulders, chest, and upper back. As they grow, they may become itchy, tender, or irritated by clothing. The good news is that they are not a sign of skin cancer nor do they develop into cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, so they don't usually need to be removed for medical reasons.
Still, your dermatologist may want to examine a keloid to make sure it's not something more serious. And if you do want to remove keloids, the process is often difficult, possibly requiring a combination of several approaches, such as corticosteroid injections or cryosurgery.
But how you want to deal with your keloids is really up to you. Bianca has come to a refreshing conclusion about hers: "From the nasty comments I have received, I have now realised life's too short to care what people think," she says in the caption. "I am starting to try [to] love my skin and to believe I am unique. This is the beginning of my journey to become free from negativity and to regain a positive mind set."